Monday, December 19, 2011

A Foot-Tapping Venture Into Cultural Heritage

Kay Lynne and I had a most interesting and enjoyable venture into (my) Finnish cultural heritage yesterday, when we traveled to Bainbridge Island (where we used to live) to see, meet and listen to the Finnish folk band Kaivama.   Finn cousin Joel Narva, his wife Sandra and daughter Lindsey, joined us at the concert.

The “band” consists of two accomplished Finnish musicians, Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman (above), both born and raised in Midwest Northwoods areas closely resembling the environment of Finland – namely Virginia, MN and Ishpeming, MI. Both areas enjoy long winters, lakeside saunas, dense pine forests, rugged terrain, and solitude – replicating the Nordic country’s climate and landscape.

The music they play can be loosely described as Finnish/Scandinavian folk music, but their training and performance transforms it into so much more.

Here’s what their web site says about their music: Sara Pajunen's unique fiddle playing is the common thread of the album, a meld of technique and nuance. Jonathan Rundman adeptly adds various instruments to each track, from rollicking acoustic guitar to a WWII-era foot-pump harmonium (organ) to his Grandfather's tenor banjo—and some famously American textures thanks to a vintage Hammond organ and Wurlizter electric piano.

Pajunen’s classical training and flirtations with avant-garde string arrangements blend with her dedication to the Finnish pelimanni fiddle tradition. Rundman mixes the harmonic structures of Nordic hymnody with a rough Americana sensibility and hints of '70s-era progressive rock.

The web site also indicates that “Kaivama's first album is a landmark debut, and a worthy bridge between a new Finnish-American generation and the time-honored music of their heritage.”  For Joel and me, it was an opportunity to hear for the first time the folk melodies our departed parents often told us had influenced the times of their youth.

No doubt we'll be back to see and hear Kaivama again when they return to Seattle’s Phinney Ridge area for a concert next May.

Click here to see and hear a sample of their music. Click here for their web site.


Ed Wall said...


Your prose have been missed!

Ralph Higgins said...

I remember when we went to Seattle to hear Arturo Sandoval. I'm sure the level of sound at your recent concert was a little more subtle and nuanced.