Ukrainian Folk Group Kommuna Lux to Perform July 27 for Saline's Acoustic Routes Concert Series


The seven members of Ukrainian folk music group Kommuna Lux.

Kommuna Lux features seven classically trained musicians from Odesa, Ukraine. Photo taken from Acoustic Routes’ Facebook event.

You’d be hard-pressed to think of a more fun, entertaining way to support Ukraine than to see Odesa-based, klezmer /“gangster folk” band Kommuna Lux play at Saline’s Stony Lake Brewing Co. as part of the monthly Acoustic Routes concerts series on July 27.

“Sometimes opportunities just fall into your lap,” said concert series founder Jim Cain, noting the band reached out to him about performing.

“In the 10-plus years I’ve been doing this series in Saline, word has gotten around about us across the country and internationally. We’ve had bands from Northern Ireland, Canada, England, Scotland—the music community’s so tight, especially bands who tour a lot, that we can punch above our weight class. Yes, the venue’s a brewery, but there’s a listening-room vibe, and one hundred percent of the ticket proceeds go to the artists.”

That last point is often a big selling point for Acoustic Routes, since, as Cain notes, by the time touring bands pay for hotels, gas, and food, there’s often little money left.

But in the case of Kommuna Lux—a group of seven classically trained musicians who blend vocals with clarinet, accordion, trumpet, trombone, acoustic guitar, and percussion—its current U.S. tour is primarily aimed at raising funds for its war-torn home country.

“The needs of the people [in Ukraine], the scale of it, is hard for us to really comprehend,” said Cain. “One of the things that’s fascinating to me is the diaspora. Here in Michigan, I’ve had Ukrainian people reach out, and the Jewish community as well, offering to help spread the word about the show.”

The band’s name derives from “kommunalka,” a shared housing concept popular in Odesa and other urban centers; and “lux,” the Latin word for “light,” is a nod to the joy of their community.

The Ukrainian traditional music that inspires the group has survived bans during the Soviet era and more recently, as the war with Russia rages on.

“The New York Times recently ran a story about how young people in Ukraine are embracing traditional folk music because their culture is under threat,” said Cain.

“Music is a way to keep your history and culture alive. You can play modern instruments at modern speeds and still be grounded in the past. … Traditional music forms let virtuosos take audiences where they’ve never been before.”

If you’re up for this kind of musical adventure, courtesy of Kommuna Lux, you can reserve your spot via the Stony Lake Brewing Co.’s website.

“Growing up in Saline, all I did was complain about how there was nothing to do,” said Cain. “But now we have this pretty special thing here. For any traveling musician, it’s all about the experiences you have and all the people you meet along the way.”

But what specifically convinced Cain to include Kommuna Lux in this summer’s Acoustic Routes lineup?

“Once I saw the energy they bring to their performances, I was sold,” said Cain. “I’ve never hosted a klezmer show. I’ve always been fascinated by that music, and it seemed like a genre that’s best experienced live.”

Jenn McKee is a former staff arts reporter for The Ann Arbor News, where she primarily covered theater and film events, and also wrote general features and occasional articles on books and music.

Kommuna Lux performs July 27 as part of the Acoustic Routes concert series at Stony Lake Brewing Co., 447 E. Michigan Ave. in Saline. For tickets, visit Stony Lake Brewing Co.’s website.


Thanks for reaching out. The venue doesn't have steps or stairs, but the doors are typical commercial style—meaning they're not powered.