Mariam had never heard her brother’s band play live. She lives in Goris but the Katil band are based in Yerevan. They’re relatively new but have already toured in Turkey and I think also in Georgia. Sevad is the lead singer and of course he sings and plays for the family when he is home, but this is not the same as seeing him fill a concert hall and stand in the spotlight. Mariam was therefore very excited that the band were to play Goris on Friday night. She invited us all to come.
The big theater in a Goris city center was full when the four band members took to the stage
” Bari Yereko Goris” shouted Sevad and the lead guitarist encouraged us to clap along to the opening chords. The music– all original as far as I know– was folk rock. For most of the evening Sevad played an acoustic guitar and sang. He is handsome and dashing, just as a lead singer should be.Sevad was backed by a drummer, a flautist/duduk player, and the tall guy on electric guitar. At various points across the evening a female accompanist joined the men on stage. First she played the Qanon, a sort of harp balanced flat on the knees and played by plucking.
The speed of her fingers and the sound thus produced were astonishing. Then she played a Qamancha, which looked like a gourd attached to the neck of a violin. The instrument was balanced between her knees on the seat of her chair, and played with a long bow in the manner of a cello, although it looked more like a potbellied banjo held upright. Again the sound was exquisite.
The flautist played the duduk, Armenia’s own reed instrument, and a small animal horn. Then he brought out a set of pipes,–parkapzuk–a true cross between Scottish bagpipes and Irish Uillean pipes. They appeared to be made of cowhide and were played standing up.
The drummer was mostly busy with Tom Toms and tambourines but towards the end of the evening he strapped on a drum nearly the size of the Lambeg drums played in my native Northern Ireland. The drum didn’t sit in his chest though but rested on the front of his thigh. He hit one side with a soft-topped mallet and used a reed or a whip to beat a rhythm on the drum’s other rim.
The band had been sponsored to play in Sevad’s home city but I never quite found out by whom. The concert was completely free and was a truly great night out in Goris.
You can hear a little of the band’s performance in the videos below– but catch them live if you possibly can. The glory of the music was bettered only by the look of pride on Mariam’s face when we all enthused about what a great night it had been.
Today Sevad was on the same marshrutni as me from Goris to Yerevan. He was very friendly and smiley but I was too over-awed to speak to him. I am not used to traveling with the band.