Chervona, Portland's resident Eastern European party band, just celebrated their 11th birthday last year. Crossing the decade point is a feat for any group, but it's especially impressive for one that can play songs that aren't sung in English.
Band leader Andre Temkin says there are a few reasons for their success and longevity.
"One of the biggest keys to the band's success is my wife, Alma," Temkin says. Although Alma is not currently playing with Chervona, Temkin describes her as "the official muse of the band." And on a personal level, "she shares the same frequency wave with me."
Another, perhaps more crucial ingredient to a successful band is great musicians, which Chervona has.
"I'm very happy with my current band situation," Temkin says. "Not only are they great musicians, but great people. It helps to have people that can productively work together, and it is a definite key to success."
Chervona's songs range from punk to folk to popular Russian songs. Where the band truly thrives is in the live setting. Chervona is playing their biggest show of the year this week, their annual Old New Year Party. It's an all-out bash based around the Russian tradition of celebrating the New Year as marked by the Orthodox Julian Calendar rather than the Gregorian one.
This year, Temkin and his band are adding a new element to their show, with a tropical theme. Chervona hopes to transport the audience from a dreary Portland winter to a place filled with warmth and lots of partying.
"We're bringing a sunny energy to the event," Temkin says. "We're gonna make it a tropical time. There's going to be an imaginary ship that takes the audience from Portland to a tropical island."
The tropical theme isn't just an escape from the weather, but a reminder of the past that Russians once knew too well. Chervona will be playing songs that come from the Soviet past, that signify "when we were not able to travel anywhere. We could only wish that we one day we would have the ability to go see other countries."
But Temkin emphasizes that Chervona is not just for the Russian-speaking communities. After all, it probably wouldn't have made it this long if that were the case.
"Playing for a mixed audience is always great," he says. "A good energy charges other people, and if you have an audience that shares that, it really helps the show sparkle. We play for everybody—having a mix is incredible."
SEE IT: Chervona's Old New Year Party is at Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Ave., with POPgoji and Andrea Algieri, on Saturday, Jan. 13. 9 pm. $28-$30 day of show, $70-$360 for reserved tables. 21+. Get tickets here.