their regular haunt The Sentient Bean (off of Forsyth Park). Two nights later, they’ll be the featured act for The Sons of The American Legion, Squadron #135’s Sunday Night Concert Series. Held around the corner from The Bean, that early evening show is geared to adults, and also features a Memphisstyle BBQ dinner. All proceeds will be donated to a variety of local charities. Michael Farkas spoke with me from somewhere on the band’s seemingly neverending tour.
Connect Savannah: What is it about the style of music you all play that drew you to it (and keeps you interested), as opposed to a more modern genre?
Connect Savannah: Do you think it's harder to earn notoriety and success by playing music that’s out of the mainstream – or can it actually be easier? Michael Farkas: Harder! But we’re planning on a big publicity blitz after we exhume the bones of Fats Waller, Uncle Dave Macon and Harry Langdon. I plan to attach their skulls to my washboard. Through secret and exhaustive research, we believe them to be a perfect tri-tone.
Connect Savannah: Describe what life is like on the road for The Wiyos? Michael Farkas: We are very intimate with our mini-van – it’s our third – and have clocked in a lot of miles! The WIYOS have seen the inside of most of the Waffle Houses and rest areas up and down the Eastern Seaboard. We have slept in cars, bars and parking lots... On mountainsides and by the sea... On floors with dogs and cats and talking birds... In Medieval castles and at coffee kiosks in Montreal malls. Not to mention motels and hotels of all shapes and sizes. Our favorite venues are festivals and listening rooms.
Connect Savannah: Do you find there’s a particular age group more likely to appreciate what you do?
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Connect Savannah: What albums are in constant rotation in your van? Michael Farkas: Anything from the early part of the 20th Century that we can get our hands on gets a lot of rotation in our van, but of course we have our contemporary favorites too – Elvis Costello, Radiohead, Wilco... Lots of CDs from bands that we meet along the way, Tuvan throat singers... You name it – The WIYOS run the gamut!
Friday & Saturday
Connect Savannah: What's the biggest misconception people have about you? Michael Farkas: That we are vegetarians.
Connect Savannah: I know you have a strong local following here. Why has your work has struck such a chord here?
Oct. 21 - 22
Michael Farkas: Yeah we do have a strong local fanbase and I'd have to say the good folks at The Sentient Bean have been incredibly supportive within their community.
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Connect Savannah: What are the short and long term goals for the band? Michael Farkas: To continue doing what we’re doing, and along the way build our audience. That way we’ll be able to ‘stay in the game’ as well as grow artistically.
Connect Savannah: Do you think European or Asian audiences would be as receptive to your stage show? Michael Farkas: We just returned from touring Western Europe in July! It was a great trip. Folks there were quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what we were up to. We’ll go back next Summer.
Connect Savannah: How do The WIYOS wind down after a show? Michael Farkas: I hide behind a rock and eat soup. Joe tends to his stamp collection, and Parrish recites passages from Finnegans Wake. ◗
The WIYOS play an ALL-AGES show at 6 pm, Friday at The Sentient Bean, and a 21+ show at 6:30 pm, Sunday at American Legion Post #135 (1108 Bull St.). That event benefits local charities.
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Michael Farkas: No, we don’t worry about parody because we have a deep affinity for the style of music. It’s in that spirit that we approach the material, so it doesn't feel old in our hands at all.
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Connect Savannah: Do you have to be careful not to lapse into parody while trying to revive and celebrate these anachronistic types of music?
Michael Farkas: This music has an intensity and passion that all of the bandmembers really relate to. We each came to it in our own way. Parrish was steeped pretty deeply in the Piedmont blues. Joe was the only six-year-old of his generation who not only owned a Victrola, but turned the crank and was fascinated by the music and spinning labels. I was into big band-era swing, and grew up listening to a lot of the American songbook that my father played on the piano.
Michael Farkas: After three years it’s pretty apparent that this music really appeals to people of all ages. We see a lot of the older generations in the front row. That’s obviously because they already have memories and associations with the music and it’s very clear that, well, the music speaks to them. For kids, we amplify some of the physical bits. I loved Bugs Bunny when I was a kid because it was so funny and at the same time subversive. I remember my folks laughing at parts that I didn't quite get and thinking...’That wascally wabbit!’ That taught me that if one satisfies people's desire for the ridiculous, they will accept your idea of the sublime...