Issue: 2015-03-26 PHOTO: Eamon MacMahon
Lemon Bucket Orchestra brings its from-the-street sounds North
Eastern European roots run strong in the Lemon Bucket Orkestra. The band name is inspired by a song from Odessa —the third largest Ukrainian city — that refers to lemons as money, like “dollah dollah bills,” clarifies Mark Marczyk, who’s “what they call the ringleader. I’m a violinist, lead singer and a founding member.”
That’s to say, the band started out as four people busking. They’d put out a bucket to collect “lemons”. In fact, the band celebrated its fifth anniversary on March 17. Four of them went out in Toronto on St. Patrick’s Day 2010 to busk as the bars were getting out. They started on the street, and at that point it wasn’t a band, let alone an orchestra.
Now, when it gets to the upper range of its membership, Lemon Bucket Orkestra is comprised of 16 people. To Marczyk, an orkestra (Eastern European spelling) is a massive group of musicians with different sections and arrangements. It has to do with numbers. At first, it was a big roaming circus. “We called it an orkestra, hoping it would get to that point, and it did.”
For Yukon purposes, it will be a 10-piece band. There’ll be a brass and horn section, violins, accordions. They’ll play fiddle music that’s traditional to Eastern Europe, and Romanian, Ukrainian, and Hungarian tunes. It’ll all be acoustic, and it will depend on the crowd and the mood of the band. Marczyk: “if there are Serbians in the crowd, we’ll play Serbian tunes. If there are Ukrainians, we’ll play Ukrainian tunes.”
To keep true to the Eastern European spirit of the band, members play off-thecuff and go with what they feel. It’s very emotional. Marczyk says it’s hard to embody the spirit of Eastern Europe. But people there wear emotions close to the surface, whether they’re intense, happy, or sad. “I relate to it. I enjoy exploring it as an artist.”
Lemon Bucket Orkestra explores what it means to live in a place where everyone shares emotions all the time, freely. In Eastern Europe, if someone thinks a song sucks, they’ll come up to the band and say, “that sucks”. And Lemon Bucket always knows if a song is going over well, because the crowd will be dancing and throwing money on the stage.
There’s the spirit of sharing in Lemon Bucket. Even if someone has very little, they’ll share it all, dividing it evenly among all members of the band. That’s what Lemon Bucket Orkestra spreads around. And in Canada, it gets different reactions. Marczyk says it’s because Canada is so diverse. Some people will sit, glued to a chair, until they realize it’s okay to get up and dance. Some will dance and party right off the bat. And the band feeds off reactions. Marczyk says that unlike other performers, what the audience thinks is crucial to how the band plays.
Reaction is what they’re all about. Having their roots in the street goes deeper than originating as a busking band. Songs performed by Lemon Bucket Orkestra came from “the streets, the roads, villages. They’re wedding songs.”
Marczyk says when people hear them, he wants their heads to lift up. He wants them to forget about the daily grind and get lost in the music. He hopes in the Yukon, Lemon Bucket Orkestra plays to a “packed house filled with raucous sweaty bodies”.
Marczyk is beyond excited to be coming North. Lemon Bucket Orkestra was touring western Canada, and promoters from the Yukon called and invited it up for two shows, one in Whitehorse and one in Dawson.
Marczyk says, “We’re really grateful to get to go places we wouldn’t get to go otherwise.” He says in return, the band does its best to bring the audience to Eastern Europe.
Lemon Bucket Orkestra is playing the Yukon Arts Centre on April 2 at 8:00 pm, and in Dawson at the Odd Fellows Hall at 9:30 p.m.