‘Together For Ukraine’ and The Ukrainians

Supporting Ukraine through music and refugee projects. Some ruminations: Alan Dearling

“Intoxicating as ice-cold vodka knocked back in one!”  – MOJO Magazine

Way back in in 1991, The Ukrainians were the first band to fuse western rock (and even punk) music with Ukrainian folk. Fast-forward to 2021, when they celebrated 30 years of international gigs & festivals.


Here’s a great video of perhaps their most powerful song, ‘Diaspora’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEenfJk2sDo

“Are we really freemen?

We will show that we are the new Cossacks.”

Personally, I’ve seen them at a number of Endorset in Dorset festies.  I’d rate them as one of the great ‘live’ bands.

Together For Ukraine

‘Together For Ukraine’ is an album of songs written by The Ukrainians and recorded by a genre-spanning range of international artist. I bought my copy of the album to help them to raise money for the Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal. You can check it out or download it here:


As Len Liggins and Peter Solowka from The Ukrainians say: “If you like the album, please buy it and encourage your friends, relatives and social media contacts to do the same. We are honoured that so many artists have recorded their own versions of our songs to help raise money to benefit the victims of this war. Heartfelt thanks go out to the artists for donating your time and your royalties.”

 ‘Together For Ukraine’ is a 19-track CD album, including the Warsaw Village Band and Czeremszyna from Poland, The Wedding Present, TV Smith and The Ukrainians from the UK, three famous Ukrainian bands from Canada – Tyt i Tam, Zapovid and Vostok, and industrial power duo from Kyiv, Attraktor. It’s an eclectic mix and brim-full of energy and emotion!

The album commences with a Gypsy turbo-folk classic of ‘Durak/Madman’. There are many such musical gems. Here’s the really rather magnificent Warsaw Village Band (Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa) playing a clip from ‘Doroha’. Well worth checking out. https://www.facebook.com/theukrainians/videos/1039530013736254

There are even a cappella tracks – exploring and developing Eastern vocal traditions. Davno, an Edinburgh female collective, shine on ‘Dva Vinochky/Two Garlands’, and The Ukrainians’ own ‘Dity Plachut’/The children are crying’is a bold and heartfelt lament, which sounds ideal for a church or even in a sports stadium. My old friends, the cow-punks of Dorset, Pronghorn, with Lamma on gruff vocals sings, “We’re looking for something because life seems empty at home.”


A little bit of background (partly culled from Wikipedia!)

‘Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela’ – 1989

“The Ukrainians grew out of a project instigated by guitarist Peter Solowka of 80s’ band ‘The Wedding Present’, when they decided to make one of their sessions for the BBC’s John Peel Show a Ukrainian one!  Peter’s friend ‘The Legendary Len’ was drafted in because he sang, played a scratchy, authentic village-sounding violin and was a student of Slavonic languages.  The group recorded the first BBC session which was duly broadcast, and then John Peel played it several times over again!  It’s still being played to his day, most recently by Gideon Coe on BBC R6…”

The RCA label released ‘Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela’, and The Wedding Present with Len & Roman followed up its release with an 8-day UK tour to promote the album which sold almost 70,000 copies worldwide, and became the only Ukrainian language to feature in the UK album charts at Number 22.

Since those early days, the group have produced dozens of albums and videos featuring their own compositions and some very weird and often wonderful covers, including their version of the Velvet Underground’s ‘Venus in Furs’, Kraftwerk’s ‘Radioactivity’ and an array of punk classics including ‘Anarchy in the UK’. They’ve frequently played in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, are especially popular in Poland and at festies throughout Europe and the USA and Canada, including Glastonbury and WOMAD in Britain.

Over the years, there have been a number of changes in the band line-up including inviting guest musicians like Monika from Davno to join them.

There are lots of videos of them performing, including:

The Ukrainians – Hey, sokoly!(Гей, соколи!) – ROCK NA BAGNIE (Rock in the Swamp) – Goniądz – POLAND 2023


This is perhaps the most famous Ukrainian song. Written for the New Year (not Xmas), the Ukrainians have taken ‘Shchedryk/Carol of Bells’ back to its pre-Christian roots: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFG9IEr9IUo

Legendary Len Liggins: https://thelegendarylenliggins.com/

At the time of writing, there’s a new book on The Ukrainians’ horizon:

This is their invitation to contribute: “Ukrainians’ Fans – Get yourself in print! Spenwood Books are collecting stories for a book with the working title ‘A People’s History of The Ukrainians’. It’s made up mostly of stories by people who have been influenced by the band’s  favourite tracks / gigs / events etc. If you’ve got some of these, put a story together, around 400 words, some pics if you have them, and send it to: [email protected].”

The Ukrainians are back out on tour in the UK in 2024.

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2 Responses to ‘Together For Ukraine’ and The Ukrainians

    1. A few points. Ukraine is ruled by nazis, or at the least, right wing fanatics. This war could have been prevented by the US, but it suited them to have a proxy war with their aim for unipolar hegemony and regime change. Putin was provoked. Wouldn’t you be if NATO surrounded your country? Zelenskiy is a puppet president who is bigging it up on international platforms whilst his wife spends tens of thousand on designer fashions.
      The horrors of this war are directly attributable to the US and NATO. I’m no Putin fan, he’s a beast, but the US Empire is far worse. So let’s keep a balance on views, which I thought was the IT way?

      Comment by Tom on 8 October, 2023 at 1:32 pm
    2. Spot on Tom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4M63gd326M

      Comment by Dave Lawton on 8 October, 2023 at 6:14 pm

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