Festival Blog

Lemon Bucket Orkestra jams at Folk Fest workshops

Posted by Melanie Woods on 26 July 2016

While mainstage headliners played to hundreds of tarpies under the sun at the 2016 Calgary Folk Music Festival, six side stages hosted dozens of concerts and collaborative workshops on topics ranging from the blues to “Mullets, Beards, Barrettes.”

One of the highlights of the packed schedule came Saturday morning as members of Yemen Blues with Ravid Kahahani, Jerusalem in my Heart, Ayrad and the Lemon Bucket Orkestra came together for the “Ancient to the Future” jam session.

The multicultural workshop brought a packed crowd to their feet to sing along with the dozens of musicians — originating from Eastern Europe to Morocco to Israel — on stage.

Lemon Bucket Orkestra founder, vocalist and violinist Mark Marczyk says the workshop environment is where his group thrives.

“Even though we’re a band that focuses on Eastern European traditions, the more definitive characteristic of our band is how we interact with one another, with musicians, with the audience, in spaces to bring them alive and celebrate whatever it is that that moment calls for,” Marczyk says.

The Lemon Bucket Orkestra is a 16-member self-described “balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-super band.” Marczyk says that while the group has worked with other bands in workshops before, every collaborative performance is a unique experience.

“There’s something really beautiful about the voices coming out of this huge mass of people that present themselves and then sort of come back into obscurity or come back into the collective,” he says.

In addition to instruments such as the sousaphone and darkbuka — a goblet-shaped drum — the Lemon Bucket Orkestra also features dancer and tambourine player Stefania Woloshyn. She says it’s exciting to work with other groups that don’t have dancers.

“There’s all this trading off with musicians and everything,” Woloshyn says. “I sort of find my own spot on the stage and I just try to dance the whole time and represent the music that I’m a part of.”

Woloshyn says workshops have the potential to create magical moments.

“When you do get that it’s amazing — when you have three bands on stage and you’re interacting and you are moving forward and back and up and through each other,” she says. “It creates this special experience that the audience suddenly is captivated by.”

For Marczyk, collaborations and workshops are about connection.

“It’s a question for all audiences, it’s a question for musicians, it’s a question for performers, it’s a question for festivals — what kind of world do you want to live in? Do you want to live in a world that’s separated and there are boundaries between performance and interaction and being told and listening, or do you want to be in a participatory world?” he says. “I don’t know if we have an answer to that, but we certainly ask the question with conviction every time we step on stage.”

While the group passed through Calgary twice in recent months — they played during the 2016 Juno Awards in March — Marczyk says they don’t have any immediate plans to return. However, he says the Calgary Folk Fest was incredibly welcoming.

“Every single place has its own unique space, and this space is an island — a beautiful, finely crafted park in the centre of a metropolis where you are in the city and you get that sort of immediacy of urban life, but you’re in this park where you can escape and sit by the river,” he says.

“We’re really blessed that so many people came to listen to us.”