The featured video of Leonid and Friends playing Earth Wind and Fire’s September is delightful. The band really captures the upbeat funk of the original, and the vocals, the band, the added horns, and the violinists combine into a glorious confection. It’s the kind of song that makes you smile, turn up the volume, and dance a little.
At the end, there is spontaneous laughter. The laugh really captures the spirit of the song and, especially, the video. For as good as the cover of September is, the video adds to the appeal. It’s not so much that the video is well shot and edited, which it is. Mostly the musicians give off a real sense of joy. They are in the groove, having fun.
Vladimir Popov on cowbell deserves a special mention – it’s not the most dynamic of instruments, yet he adds to the charm of the video. Leonid Vorobyev, the denim-clad bass player in front of the Hartke amp, transcribes and arranges the music for the band. He also produces and mixes the music and edits the videos. Leonid and Friends dates back to 2014, when Leonid, from Moscow, teamed up with Serge Tiagniryadno, a Ukranian singer and guitarist, to record Brand New Love Affair, by Chicago.
The YouTube success of their Chicago cover led to Leonid and Serge collaborating on further covers of Chicago songs. With time, a band coalesced round them, and they released three albums of Chicago covers and started touring, including in the US. The joke is that Leonid and Friends are the best Chicago tribute band everywhere in the world except in Russia (where there is no demand for note perfect Chicago covers). Here is the band’s excellent cover of Chicago’s If You Leave Me Now.
The lead singer on If You Leave Me Now is Serge Tiagniryadno. With the onset of the war in Ukraine, Tiagniryadno returned to his home country. According to Wikipedia, Tiagniryadno returned to fight, though he continues to post music online.
The rest of Leonid and Friends, certainly the core members (who come from a number of Eastern European countries besides Russia), appear to be based in the US where they are touring their Chicago tribute show. As the video of the Earth Wind and Fire cover shows, the band occasionally performs tracks by other bands. Leonid and Friends cover of Steely Dan’s My Old School is certainly worth a listen.
Back in Ukraine, Serge Tiagniryadno hosts Wednesday night livestreams from Kyiv. He encourages his viewers to donate for emergency hospital supplies for the care of new-borns and for intensive care wards. This is the link to the recording of a recent livestream (the show starts 2m30s in):