Made in ЮА [UA]…. the long road to Liviy Bereh (Lviv)

It has been some time since I have actually sat down and written anything, but it does not mean that my life has not been filled with a great number of musical events.

On May 20th I was sitting in one of my regular haunts when in comes an old friend of mine, Mykhaylo [Mis’ko] Barbara, lead man of Mertviy Piven’, he sits down and joins me for a while and we start chewing the same old fat as usual. I met Mis’ko back in 1994 and over the years, we have become good friends willing to share ideas, and sometimes even reminisce about when we met at a small cafe in Ternopil during the third week of July back in 1994. But that day we met was a little different, I tried to avoid thinking back into the past[My father passed away thirty years ago to that day and I didn’t want to dwell on it!], I was thinking about today, what I would be doing tomorrow and how good it would be to see friends in L’viv on the upcoming weekend at the 20th Anniversary of Studentske bratstvo.

One of the first things Mis’ko says to me that day, “Vasyliu, I’ve just discovered a girl with an incredible voice, one of the best ranges and abilities I’ve heard in a very long time!” I smiled at Mis’ko, and asked, “So who is she?” He replied, “Her name is Dana!”

He said, “Well you are going to be in L’viv this weekend, aren’t you? Come out to Liviy Bereh, is a new club that has opened up underneath the L’viv Opera, we are playing our 20th anniversary concert there on May 24th, and she will be singing back vocals on a few numbers.” With that he pulled out a copy of the band’s latest CD called Made in UA, featuring the poems of Yuriy Andrukhovych put to their music. Pulled out a pen and signed it for me… “If you get a chance take a listen and tell me what you think?” said Mis’ko. In all honesty, I still haven’t had the time to give it a great listen.

Mis’ko, packed up his notebook and headed off! Then I noticed a pair of sunglasses on the table. I gave Mis’ko a call… He answered and said, “See at the gig on the 24th, and don’t forget my sunglasses! I won’t be in L’viv on the 23th as we have a gig in Rivne that night, and have a great party with our friends from SB!”

A couple of days later I arrived in L’viv by train on a Saturday morning. The weather was clear when I arrived, but as the day went on we started to get some cloud cover, and I wondered just what kind of day would shape up for the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Studentske bratstvo. Let’s just say that it turned out to be some party… Starting out in the courtyard of the L’viv City Hall at 17:00. It was good to see people, some that I had not seen for nine years, others I saw the last time in 1993.

The evening was filled with entertainment, primarily patriotic and satirical songs that students sang back in 1989, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union and when there was a rebirth of being proud being Ukrainian, particularly in the western parts of Ukraine. By about 22:00 a core group of merry makers headed off to a friend’s restaurant to continue the celebration. This was also filled with singing and dancing and plenty of good food and drink. By about 3:00 in the morning we all slowly began to disperse. It was a fine evening, but the core musical section of this blog is only about to begin.

By 15:00 on the 24h of May I ran into some friends that I didn’t have time to catch up with the night before and we found a quiet side street, away from where any one of us could run into someone we knew. Given the Mertviy Piven’ concert was to start at 21:00 I began to debate one key thing. Should I have a nap or push it and stay up… I decided upon the later, as going to sleep after the late night before would have clearly resulted in not a nap but a very long sleep.

As usual, when heading off to a new venue, I try to give myself a little bit more time than usual. I stood and front of the Opera and thought, “So where is the entrance?” Not that it really mattered, as I would eventually circumnavigate the Opera from the left hand side while facing it and find the entrance on the right hand side.

I pulled open the heavy wooden door and found a second door, paid my 100 UAH entrance fee, and headed down the stairs into the basement of the L’viv Opera. What I saw was a stage at the end of the hall, of about 35 meters long. The place was packed, clearly there were plenty of MP fans that had gathered to listen to both the new material off of Mertviy Piven’s new album.

The club is done in good taste, and has vaulted brick ceilings. Looking around at the décor I thought to myself. “I wonder if the architect, Zygmunt Gorgolewski ever thought that this building would also serve such a purpose?”

I looked around then noticed my friend Markian Ivashchyshyn and a young woman sitting next to him. Markian told me to pull up a chair and introduced me to Dana. We sat and awaited the beginning of the concert, and it was not long before they started.

For the most part, the concert was filled with new material from their new CD. At one point, Dana got up and excused herself and made her way up to the stage, in fact this is what I was waiting for. I always feel that when a musician gives a thumbs up to another musician it is worth its weight in gold, and from what Mis’ko had told me about I was in for a bit of a treat. He was not mistaken.

As Mertviy Piven’ wrapped up their material, Mis’ko traditionally introduced all the members of the band including Dana Vynnytska. They all, including Dana, received an incredible round of applause. It was not long before the audience started calling out for an encore. You could hear the repetition of the word “Bis! Bis! Bis!” from the crowd of probably close to 150 people under the vaulted ceiling.

Mertviy Piven’ returned to the stage and launched into some of their older material including such well known songs as “Beautiful Karpaty” and “Lito bude” and concluded with their first “hit” “Eto!”. Everyone in attendance seemed pleased.

After all those seeking autographs and copies of the new Mertviy Piven’ CD began to disperse I headed up to the stage with Mis’ko’s sunglasses. To the right of the stage was a curtain which separated part of that end of the hall from the audience and served as a backstage area. As Mis’ko continued to sign CD’s I had a chance to say my hello’s to some of the band members and then moved towards the area behind the curtain. I was greeted with a big hug by Svitlana Oleshko, Director of the Arabesque Theatre from Kharkiv, and Mis’ko’s partner… “Vasyliu good to see you, its been a while!” said Svitlana.

Mis’ko tore himself away from his fans for a second when he caught a glimpse of me came over and shook my hand as I handed him his shades. He asked me how the celebration the night before and I asked him about the Rivne gig. I looked at him and told him it was time for me to head home to sleep. “Thanks for coming out and bringing my sunglasses,” he said with sincerity.

I headed back towards the door, and Dana and I headed up the stairs together. As we headed along Prospect Svobody, Dana said, “I hope to see you on June 6th at our CD presentation!” I told her that I wouldn’t be in L’viv that long so she invited me to their concert on May 28th at the Jazz Club at Dzyga. Needless to say that will be a completely different blog post… and eventually, I will actually sit down and review Made in ЮА.