Editors' pick



Editorial Review

Calling a group a "bar band" is really a loaded term, conjuring up images of roadhouse blues, Rolling Stones covers, maybe even "Freebird." It's far more likely to be used dismissively than as a term of endearment, which is what it should be. A great bar band keeps the energy level high, makes the crowd dance, interacts with the audience, plays songs you can drink and sing along to -- you know, everything a great band should be. It's with these criteria in mind that we can safely say that Scythian is the best bar band in D.C. The three classically trained frontmen may focus on Celtic folk music, and run off blistering fiddle solos that would put musicians twice their age to shame, and can cover the Pixies with the same verve as a traditional Irish rave-up like "Black and Tans," and they might throw in some Klezmer, bluegrass or a fiddle version of "Wild Thing" while they're at it. But it's more than musicianship that makes Scythian a great bar band: Leading the audience in drinking games, hosting impromptu dance contests, luring audience members to jig onstage, getting everyone to sing along to "500 Miles." These are the things that we care about.

-- Fritz Hahn (September 6, 2007)

Mike Joyce reviewed Scythian's 2007 album "Immigrant Road Show" for The Washington Post:

Scythian, the Virginia-bred Celtic rock group, knows a thing or two about the rigors involved in becoming classically trained musicians. But what sets the quartet's new CD apart has a lot more to do with passion than with pedigree. The buskers-turned-band specialize in fusing Celtic, Gypsy and rock traditions with all the energy, affection and wit they can muster, which, as it turns out, is more than enough to justify the group's billing as "Celtic Adrenaline Pushers."

On "Immigrant Road Show," the band occasionally pays tribute to kindred spirits, first with a suitably barbed and boisterous rendition of Goats Don't Shave's "Hills of Donegal," then with a harmonious, pulsating take on the Pogues' "Tuesday Morning." Scythian even pulls a chapter from Commander Cody's "Tales From the Ozone" CD, fashioning a fresh arrangement of "Gypsy Fiddle" that moves from rhapsody to romp. A couple of original tunes also make the cut, including singer-guitarist-accordionist Danylo Fedoryka's amusing, tongue-tripping travelogue "Highway 81."

Mostly, though, Fedoryka and sibling Alexander, on fiddle, vocals, guitar, mandolin and harmonica, spearhead a sound that searches beyond contemporary sources for inspiration, be it a Gershwinesque flourish or a Scottish war chant. Fiddlers Fedoryka and Josef Crosby thrive on fast tempos, and percussionist Michael Ounallah keeps the fires stoked -- that is, when he isn't sustaining a swing pulse that leads to other adventures en route to the band's foot-stomping, bottle-hoisting performance of Pete St. John's "Fields of Athenry."