Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


Home · Articles · News · Music · The Wiyos
. . . .

The Wiyos

Kristi Kates - November 15th, 2010
Americana
By Kristi Kates
The Whyos were an intimidating street gang who raged through NewYork’s
volatile Five Points region from the 1860s until the early 1890s,
controlling much of the Manhattan territory and shouting their gang
cry of “Why-oh!” throughout the rough city streets.
The musical act that’s been dubbed The Wiyos - while they definitely
did borrow their name from the infamous gang - may be just as
boisterous at times, but they’re a lot less dangerous.
Which is, of course, fortunate for their fans.
“We all met in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and felt that a band,
to some degree, is like a gang,” The Wiyos’ Michael Farkas explains.
“Throw in an occasional black eye and missing tooth for good measure,”
he laughs.
  Farkas goes on to say that, more seriously speaking, they wanted a
band name that had some historical significance.
“And we certainly have a style that is loosely based on the gangs,” he
says, “each of those gangs had a very particular look.”
On stage and in their promo shots, The Wiyos’ garb harkens back to the
late 19th century, as do their stage personas. In addition to Farkas
on harp, percussion, and often washboard, the band consists of Teddy
Weber on guitar, steel guitar, kick drum, and cornet, and “Sauerkraut”
Seth Travins on doghouse bass and percussion. Farkas says that it’s
the combination of carefully-selected musicians that help make The
Wiyos a success.

BIG EARS, BIG SOUND
Influenced by a little bit of everything (“This band has very big
ears,” Farkas says), the band is inspired by “all the bands that are
trying to do something unique and original out there,” Farkas
continues.
“The arts in this country have always been a tough road, and my
inspiration comes from those who trundle along in the face of poverty
and adversity. Those being true to themselves is inspiring,” he says.
That approach is definitely working for the band. They were recently
featured in the BBC television documentary Folk America, and The Wiyos
were also hand-picked in 2009 by Bob Dylan to tour as the opener of
Dylan’s road show, with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp.
Being multi-talented helps, too.
“In addition to the instruments we play, we all sing,” Farkas says,
“and we work well together because we have a clear vision and love
performing together. We are a good team that is not afraid to be
opinionated.”
Those opinions also extend to their feelings on the state of the
music biz today. While many may categorize The Wiyos as “Americana”
music, they feel that their genre is more of a float between a range
of sounds, which is something they continue to expand upon as they add
in such experimental elements as human beat-boxing and New Orleans
rhythms.

HIP AMERICANA
“We are never quite clear as to what qualifies as ‘Americana’ these
days,” Farkas says. “There is so much music that could fall into that
category. But if you define ‘hip’ as something that was aligned with
urban culture and music from the ’30s and ’40s, then we certainly
qualify. These days, we have moved beyond the old-timey music where we
first gained our reputation.”
A big part of their reputation, as well, are their energetic live
performances, in which they blend a little retro physical comedy with
their sharp musical skills, calling to mind the visuals of Charlie
Chaplin or Buster Keaton.
“We enjoy musical and performance traditions that come directly from
the stages of Vaudeville or even Commedia Dell’Arte (a form of Italian
improv theater begun in the mid-16th century, translated as ‘comedy of
art’), for that matter,” Farkas says, “back then, there was no
separation between comedy and music.”
“You put on a show, and in the best case scenario, you had the benefit
of good lighting, sound, and ambiance to set the stage for some kind
of transformation,” he continues. “Live shows should always endeavor
toward transformation. That is the reason why people went out to see
music or theater in the first place.”

The Wiyos will be performing at the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City
on November 20. For more info on the band, visit www.thewiyos.com.

 
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