The very fact that there still remains interest in Latvian music in North America is rather remarkable. The “glory days” of groups like Čikāgas piecīši and Trīs no Pārdaugavas, bands that could fill Latvian centers to bursting, has long since passed. However, Latvian music has remained a fixture at Latvian events—not just at song festivals but other events as well. Two musicians who have been keeping the flame alive are Edmunds Mednis and Ēriks Kīns.
Mednis, as readers might already know, was a longtime member of the popular Latvian šlāger group Bumerangs, playing drums and singing, as well as composing a number of the band’s most popular songs. Mednis, though born in Latvia, has been living in the United States since 1999. Ēriks Kīns, from the Chicago area, performed in such groups such as the Minnow Buckets and Adam Zahl. Mednis joined Adam Zahl in 2004 and in 2006 the duo branched out to work on their own material.
At Bumerangs’ 20th anniversary concert in Rīga on March 4, 2006, the duo appeared via video to perform their new song “Putni” (Birds). From there, the song became a major hit in Latvia, and the duo began work on a full length album, Lidojums, which was released this summer. On the record, Mednis no longer plays the drums, but sings and plays guitar and keyboards, while Kīns sings and plays guitars. They are joined by other musicians, including Artūrs Rūsis on guest vocals, Juris Skrajāns on guitars, Eduards Glotovs on bass and Vilnis Krieviņš on drums. The group has become popular enough that it was able to give a concert tour in Latvia this summer.
Listening to the record, one can understand why Mednis and Kīns have become so popular. Building on Mednis’ work with Bumerangs, as well as Kīns’ work with Adam Zahl, the group has recorded an album full of catchy and memorable songs. On their profile on the networking Web site draugiem.lv they describe themselves as “alt country.” Mednis’ vocals and the harmonies with Kīns give their music more than just a passing resemblance to Bumerangs—but this is a positive thing, as Bumerangs is far and away among the best of the legion of šlāger or country groups in Latvia.
Mednis is also a very talented songwriter, composing some of Bumerangs’ most popular songs, such as “Deju zāle,” “Klaidonis” and “Mazais ceļinieks.” He shows no sign of slowing down, as mega-hit “Putni” is also by his pen, as are songs like “Lidojums” and “Tevis man nav par daudz.”
Kīns also has a talent for songwriting. His tracks on Lidojums include “Kā tas var būt?” and two songs that had originally appeared on Adam Zahl’s Pirmā plate album: “Acu spēles” and “Iesim peldēties!”. There is also “Vaimanas,” a Latvian version (text by Kīns) of the song “Valentine” by alt country group Old 97’s.
To my knowledge, no other “new” Latvian group based in the United States has had a full album released in Latvia. The fact that Latvia’s largest music label, MICREC, has released their album is just another indication of the duo’s talent and hard work. With many catchy songs and soaring harmonies, Mednis and Kīns have a rare chemistry that shines through all the songs on Lidojums. This is one flight well worth taking.
Mednis un Kīns
Where to buy
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