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Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada

Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada
Band World Latin


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"Papa Duke Delights Crowd Review"

November 07, 2005

Band fills in at last minute for concert association performance

If anyone was disappointed that Welland/Port Colborne concert association's scheduled performers cancelled their show, it certainly didn't last longer than the first bar of music. Filling in at the last moment for the group was the fabulous six-piece band, Papa Duke, who absolutely enthralled concert patrons at Centennial school's J.M. Ennis Auditorium, last Saturday evening.

Leave it to acoustic director Stella Crouch to find such a rare diamond in the rough, and polish and present it for concert series patrons. Just 24 hours prior to the scheduled concert, the Volyn Song and Dance Company had to cancel their performance due to traveling restrictions beyond their control. But to find a musical replacement as remarkably talented as Papa Duke on such short notice was a rare find indeed. I can't imagine being more entertained.

Papa Duke highlights the virtuosic violin playing of Vasyl Popadiuk. Accompanying Popadiuk are a handful of other remarkably talented players: David West on a 12-string classical guitar, pianist and keyboardist, Stan Fomin, Keyboardist and flautist, Taras Blyzniuk, bassist Victor Khomenko, and drummer, Jaroslaw Nazarowicz.

Each musician in Papa Duke is a virtuoso player of his own instrument, quite frankly, they'd have to be to keep up with the crazy pacing and tempos set by Popadiuk. In fact, when I think of the band's performance the word "extreme" playing springs to mind. Every Papa Duke player pushes his art to the maximum peak of performance. The result is a fiery and passionate musical experience of world genre music.

Popadiuk explained to the crowd that he and the other members of Papa Duke were originally from the Ukraine, and that they now made Canada their home.

His unabashed praise for Canada was heartwarming. He humorously apologized for his Slavic accent, which was absolutely charming. And what Popadiuk couldn't articulate in English; he certainly could say most fluently with his violin.

Without a doubt, Popadiuk is a genius on the violin. He set a pace that constantly pushed the boundaries of human performance. There were moments when Popadiuk's tempos were so lightning fast that it looked like the bow was not even moving across the violin. Only the flitting sound of staccato notes, (at the rhythmic speed of a hummingbird's wings), was testimony that he was indeed playing so fast that you couldn't see any movement. Popadiuk sustained an intense emotion from his violin throughout his performance, whether he was playing spirited gypsy tunes or sensual tangos. He even proved his talent on the piano, playing an opening passage to Carpathian Hoedown, that was surprisingly brilliant as well.

There are not enough words to praise this man's musical gifts - "wow" only begins to cover it. Who better to keep up with such a musical prodigy, than a band of equally prodigious musicians. Papa Duke band members swung from flute to keyboards and baby grand to organ, in the blink of an eye, with a consummate professionalism that made their accomplishment look almost too easy.

Lead guitarist, David West, played an unusual looking guitar - a unique Ecuadorian 12 and 18 string guitar - that added a classical guitar element to the show. West's few solo moments sounded much like rich, flamenco styling guitar work. I suspect that West is a huge guitar talent who could hold his own as a solo-performer. Truly, all the band members would have to be brilliant musicians to keep up with Popadiuk's pacing.

Altogether, they're a musical force of super-players, and a pure delight to listen to. Add to the experience an impromptu and seductive tango danced onstage by two audience participants, it was an engaging evening of stirring, passionate music, delivered by superb musicians.

Even though it was just a last minute fill-in for a group that cancelled the night before the show, I can't imagine a more entertaining evening of world music.

- Tribune, Lynn Peppas, Welland, Ontario


1999-Ablaze 2001-Ablaze 2, 2004-Vasyl Popadiuk,
2006-Papa Duke
Radio airplay":Real Gypsy,Carpathian Hoedown,Hutsul Fantasy, Once Upon Time in America



The journey for Vasyl Popadiuk from Ukraine to Toronto has been one of musical adventure, starting at Kiev's Lysenko school for gifted children at the tender age of 7, and continuing at Ukraine's national Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music from age 18. Vasyl Popadiuk's father, himself a renowned composer and pan flute player, dreamt of his son following in his footsteps as a flutist but at the age of four Vasyl Jr chose to play the piano. By age six he had discovered and fallen in love with the violin - an outcome predicted by a stranger before his birth - that love has remained steadfast through the years.

Popadiuk has toured with many prestigious troupes, including Ukraine's Hopak National Ensemble, Kiev's Gypsy Music Theatre Company, and the Nazarov Music Theatre Company of Moscow with whom he performed for many international dignitaries including the late King Hussein of Jordan. He was asked to accompany Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife as part of the cultural entourage during a state visit to Spain where he performed for Queen Sofia. His many fans include Don Was, Tom Cochrane, Ian Gillan (whose solo album Vasyl was asked to play on) and Jesse Cook. In the past he often appeared as special guest to Mediterranean guitarist Pavlo in Canada, the U.S., and the UK. More recently he has made several appearances as special guest for world-music guitarist Jese Cook, and will be special guesting for celebrated Canadian tenor John McDermott in Toronto this summer.

During the past year Vasyl has assembled his new 6 piece band Papa Duke and recorded his first album with them. The band name is a play on Vasyl's last name and the fact that he is considered by many to be the 'duke' of gypsy violin. They have already headlined at Harbourfront, the Burlington Jazz & Blues fest, and with the Mississauga Symphony at the Living Arts Centre. Papa Duke's music is best described as 'Gypsy World Fusion' with classical, jazz, latin and pop undertones. The current line up of stellar players in Papa Duke includes: musical director Stan Fomin on piano and keyboards; dynamic Ecuadorian guitarist David West (playing a custom 12 & 18 string guitar); Sasha Boychouk on sprano sax, clarinet and keyboards; acoustic & electric bassist Victor Khomenko; and newest member Rosendo "Chendy" Leon (from Cuba) on drums and percussion.