Sunday morning music


The other day I was idly browsing through MeWe, and came across a music video posted by my friend and fellow author and blogger, Cedar Sanderson.  It was by the Russian folk rock group Otava Yo, of whom I’d never heard before.  I found it amusing and musically intriguing.  It’s called “The Tale of Ivan”.  According to the video’s YouTube page, the lyrics translate as follows:

Oh Ivan, my dear Ivan, where you’ve been all night? Where you’ve been all night? You haven’t been to your darling’s place…

Haven’t been to my darling’s place, didn’t see my pals, my sweet girl, don’t be angry with me

Don’t be angry with me, that I didn’t come to you, that I didn’t make it over, I found myself on the street, playing fiddle all night down on the street!

Of course, that’s in the classic tradition of medieval and later country and folk songs throughout eastern Europe.  It sounded interesting enough that I looked for more information, and more of the group’s songs.  Wikipedia says of them:

Alexey Belkin, Alexey Skosyrev, Dmitriy Shikhardin, and Peter Sergeev worked together as buskers on the streets of St. Petersburg for about 3 years. The positive feedback from the listeners inspired them to officially form a band in 2003. Of the initial members, only Dmitriy had formal musical education; the rest were self-taught. Initially the band was called Reelroadъ and they played The Pogues-styled Celtic punk, but later changed their name to Otava Yo and turned to Russian traditional music.

In 2005 they released their first studio album “Pod Aptekoj”, named after their favourite street performance spot by a homeopathic pharmacy on Nevsky Prospect. Four years later, in 2009, Otava Yo released their second studio album “Zhyli-byli”, continuing into a musical direction they called “Russian beat”.

The next Otava Yo’s album “Rozhdestvo” of traditional Christmas songs released in 2011, marked a deviation from their characteristic musical direction, that they ultimately returned to on their 2013 album “Chto za pesni”.

The band’s breakthrough came with the video for the song “Sumetskaya”, featuring Russian fist fighters. In 2015 “Sumetskaya” reached the No. 1 position on World Music Network’s February Video Chart and had been viewed for more than 36 million times on YouTube, a number that reached 14 million in 2018, setting the record as the most watched music video by a Russian folk band.

There’s more at the link.

Here’s the video of “Sumetskaya”.  Lyrics in English are at its YouTube page.  It’s clearly an Eastern village song, along the same lines (but with Eastern music) of the drinking songs found in medieval England and Europe.

Here are a few more of Otava Yo’s folk songs.  First, “The Maidens have Sown the Flax”.

Next, “A Cat has Four Legs”.

Finally, a medley with definite Western overtones that I’m sure you’ll recognize.  It’s called “Medieval Disco”, and was filmed during a live performance in St. Petersburg in 2018.

It’s certainly an interesting folk rock group, one of the first from Eastern Europe that I’ve come across.  Thanks, Cedar, for introducing me to them.



  1. Very nice. Thanks for the link, I always enjoy finding out about groups from all over. Have a look at Leonid and Friends, a Russian group that covers Chicago tunes.
    Talented groups from all over!

  2. I've been a big fan of Otavo Yo for a while, look up their rendition of a traditional Finnish Folk song called Finnish Polka.

  3. Had to chuckle at their choice of what we refer to here as "wife beater" sleeveless white T-shirts for one of their performances.

  4. I'm delighted that you did some research on them! I'd stumbled over the first song and it was a lot of fun to watch them perform.

  5. Also recommend DahkaBrahka. And from Poland there is Warsaw Village Band, which is less rustic than the band name implies.
    But mention of Eastern Euro music must include Balkan brass bands and Gypsy (Roma) music. A start can be made with Electric Gypsyland
    and Gypsy Hill.
    And then there is the whole subject of Klezmer music.

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