If rock-n-roll had been invented 500 years ago, Stary Olsa is what it
would sound like.
In 1999, Zmicier Sasnouski of Minsk, Belarus, brought together a diverse
group of musicians, some classically trained and some self-taught,
who shared a common love of history. They set out to revive some
traditional instruments of their homeland, which had faded from the
public eye during the Soviet era. Soon, historians all over Europe
were sending them historic songs from archives, so these ancient
favorites could be heard again just as they were 500 years ago.
Stary Olsa’s roster shifted over time until it settled on the
current line-up, which includes bagpipes, flutes, shaums, lute,
rebec, tromba marina, and percussion (including wooden shoes), with
front man Aleys Chumakov belting out vocals in Belarusian. Stary
Olsa has recorded thirteen albums of popular European dances, rowdy
Slavic drinking songs, epic tales of knights and victory, and tender
ballads from knights to their ladies-in-waiting. They’ve also
produced a fan-demand album of Classic Rock cover songs, after their
medieval version of Metallica’s “One” went viral. Until you’ve
heard “Iron Man” performed on the hurdy-gurdy, your life is
just not complete.
Today’s hits are but “a small stop on a long musical continuum.” Stary Olsa shows just how much our current music owes to its medieval roots. Come listen to living history and party like it’s 1199!