Tag Archives: Finland

Dance on the Roof

Afrotysonia – Dance on the Roof

Afrotysonia – Dance on the Roof (NCB, 2017)

Dance on the Roof is the new album by Finnish band Afrotysonia. It’s a trio that combines Finnish traditional music, West African rhythms and melodies, and pop. the highlight is the interaction between the kantele and the percussion intruments. The English-language vocals are the weakest part of the project.

The lineup includes Sonja Korkman on vocals; Aino Kurki on kantele; and Macoumba Ndiaye on percussion. Guest vocalists: Tero Pajunen and Katri Liira.


Artist Profiles: Niko Valkeapää

Niko Valkeapää – Photo by Knut Åserud

Niko Valkeapää was born on December 30, 1968 in Enontekiö, Finland. He’s a Finnish-Sami singer-songwriter and vocalist. He has been living in Kautokeino in the north of Norway since 1990. He is the Godson of the late multitalented Nils Aslak Valkeapää. Niko has recorded new melodies to several of Nils Aslak’s poems on his albums. He has also ventured into new directions and has become a major influence and inspiration for many younger Saami artists.

Even though Valkeapää’s music is rooted in Sami tradition, his style is closer to electronica-infused pop than traditional Sami chanting. “The songs on my album deal with themes such as urbanity, cultural diversity and introspective exploration. Inter-human relations, social reactions and themes that circle around these factors are also central topics in my lyrics,” says the songwriter.

Niko won the Saami Grand Prix in 1994 and 1995 and received “Spellemannsprisen”, the top Norwegian music award in open class, in 2003 for his debut album ”Niko Valkeapää”. Niko also won the Liet Ynternasjonaal song contest for European Minority Languages, in 2004 where he won the Public Choice price as well.

In the summer of 2008 Niko’s double album ”Birrat Birra” came out. It won Norwegian Folk Music Awards in two categories, Open Class and ”Most Innovative Folk Music”.


* Niko Valkeapää (Duippidit, 2003)
* Sierra (Duippidit, 2004)
* Birrat Birra (Duippidit, 2008)
* Ä Ä (Duippidit, 2012)
* Gusto (Duippidit, 2012)

website: www.nikovalkeapaa.no


Artist Profiles: Nils-Aslak Valkepää

Nils-Aslak Valkepää

Nils-Aslak Valkepää, called Aillohas by his fellow Samis, was born on March 23, 1943 in Enontekiö, Finland. He was one of the trail-blazers of traditional and modern Sami music since the 1960s.

Aillohas was one of the first artists to present traditional Sami joik on stage. He performed and toured throughout the world, and encouraged other joikers to perform in public. In addition to his activities as a performer and musician, he composed new music, was an author and worked with the fine arts.

His multimedia productions were exhibited widely. He collaborated with Finnish jazz and folk music fusion musicians to make several innovative recordings, and some of his compositions have become classics of Sami music. His Bird Symphony (Goase Dusse) received the Prix Italia Radio Music Award in 1993, and was the only musical entry to receive an award that year.

He opened the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer by performing the Olympic Welcome Joik (Dalveleaikkat). He composed film and theatre music, and his music has been used extensively in television programs.

Nils-Aslak Valkeapää appeared in Mike Oldfield’s album The Songs of Distant Earth (1994).

Nils-Aslak Valkepää passsed away on November 26, 2001 in Espoo, Finland.


* Baivi, Ahcazan (DATCD 4, 1988)
* Eanan, eallima eadni (DATCD 5, 1989)
* Sami, luondu, gollerisku (DATCD 11, 1992)
* Sampi Lottazan (DATCD 13, 1992)
* Goase Dusse (DATCD 15, 1994)
* Dálveleaikkat (1994)
* Vuoi, Biret-Máret vuoi! (2009)
* Alit Idja Lahkona (2010)


Old Time Balkan from Lapland

Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha – Näennäinen

Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha – Näennäinen (Playground Music, 2016)

Jaakko Laitinen and his band Väärä Raha hail from Lapland in northern Finland and they have a fascination with nostalgic Roma and Balkan music, brass band music, and other musical traditions such as Finnish tango and humppa, as well as Russian and Greek love songs.

Most of the material performed by Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha is original, ranging from old fashioned love songs to progressively fast brass music.

The lineup includes Jaakko Laitinen on vocals; Marko Roininen on accordion; Jarkko Niemelä on trumpet, bouzouki and altohorn; Tuomo Kuure on double bass; and Janne Hast on drums.

Guests featured: Bjonko Stoisic on clarinet; Morgan Nickolay on balalaika; Matti Pitkänen on violin; Tuomas Timonen on percussion; Valtteri Bruun on guitar, mandolin, ukulele and synthesizer.


Artist Profiles: Frigg

Frigg live in Norway in 2010 – Photo by Angel Romero

Frigg specializes in the rich folk heritage from Finland and Norway. The musicians combine elements of their respective folk traditions with touches of American Appalachian bluegrass and country & western music.

The seven-piece band contains three young Järvelä, two sons and a daughter of the most famous fiddle family in Finland, whose fathers and uncles founded JPP, and two Larsen brothers, members of a comparable Norwegian Hardanger fiddle clan. The traditional sounds are then boosted with innovative arrangements, and combined with mandola, cittern, double bass, guitar and dobro.

Frigg has been impressing festival audiences in Scandinavia and creating a phenomenal sensation among listeners and fellow musicians. Their debut CD, Frigg, was co-produced by Timo Alakotila.

With Oasis, the Finnish/Norwegian string band returned with a great new set of inventive tunes. Using traditional music as the starting point and their family ties to the great Finnish fiddle ensemble JPP, creating remarkable string music that incorporates elements of bluegrass and other American folk influences.

While a few compositions on their second CD, are given some expanded instrumentation, the highlight remains strong tunes, such as the hauntingly beautiful title track, and the crowd-pleasing “Fantomen,” that was very well received when the band appeared on the American public radio program “A Prairie Home Companion” on October 1, 2005.


* Frigg (2002)
* Keidas-Oasis-Oase (2005)
* Live (2007)
* Economy Class (2008)
* Grannen (Frigg Music, 2010)
* Timeline, compilation (2014)


Impeccable Contemporary Finnish Folk

Karuna – Tuulispää (Kuu Records, 2016)

Karuna features three talented contemporary folk music instrumentalists and composers from Finland. Tuulispää is Karuna’s second album and it brings together exquisite chamber music and lively and evocative Nordic folk music influences.

The music is inspired by events such as the drowning of the Syrian child Aylan in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as a beautiful sunrise and the observation of animals like deer and moths.

The lineup includes Teija Niku on accordion and melodeon; Juha Kujanpää (who also leads a progressive rock band) on piano and keyboards; and the multifaceted Esko Järvelä on nyckelharpa, violin, and guitar. Järvelä is involved in multiple folk, folk-rock and world music projects like Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band, Frigg, Baltic Crossing and Tsuumi Sound System.


Tuulispää’s musical pieces are beautifully crafted, delicate and rich in virtuosity. A delectable Finnish folk album.

Buy Tuulispää in the Americas

Buy Tuulispää in Europe


A Beautiful Bagpipe tradition Recovered

Päre – Hausjärvi Beat (Zebo Records ZBR01, 2016)

Päre is a Finnish band that has recovered the Finnish bagpipe tradition. On the band’s album Hausjärvi Beat the bagpipe, called säkkipilli in Finnish, is used to perform a mix of traditional and modern Finnish folk music.

Piper Petri Prauda uses bagpipes made by Yrjänä Ermala. The Finnish bagpipe has a beautiful warm sound, closer to uilleann pipe than a Scottish highland pipe.

The ensemble includes Petri Prauda on säkkipilli (Finnish bagpipes); Piia Kleemola on fiddle, octave fiddle, 15-string kantele; Jarmo Romppanen, on 10-string mandola; Oskari Lehtonen on percussion; and Tapani Varis on folk clarinet, jew’s harp and overtone flute.

Hausjärvi Beat delivers mesmerizing bagpipe music inspire by ancient Nordic folk traditions.

Buy the digital version of Hausjärvi Beat.

The CD is available from etno.net/cd/hausjarvi_beat


Absorbing Finnish a Cappella

Tuuletar – Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal (Bafe’s Factory, 2016)

An exquisite a cappella album by Finnish quartet Tuuletar. The all-female ensemble sings original compositions inspired by classical music, Finnish folk music, pop and electronics. Even though I mentioned electronics, the quartet doesn’t use electronics. Instead, one of Tuuletar’s members performs the beat box, the vocal emulation of a drum machine.

Even though the four members of Tuuletar are Finnish, they met at the Royal Academy of Music in Denmark. The four artists became friends and created one of the most fascinating a cappella ensembles in the current international scene. Their sound has elements of tradition, but they also sound fresh and contemporary, with gorgeous Finnish-style harmonies that world music fans love, and the beatbox that makes Tuuletar’s music very appealing to younger generations.

Members include Venla Ilona Blom on vocals and beatbox, Sini Koskelainen on vocals, Johanna Kyykoski on vocals, and Piia Säilynoja on vocals.

The ensemble’s album is titled “Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal” (On Fire and Earth, in Water and Sky) that refers to the four elements and their common resonance.
“Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal” was recorded in the United States in a studio specialized in a cappella recordings. The result is a splendid, state of the art vocal recording by four very talented young musicians.

Buy Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal in the Americas

Buy Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal in Europe


Åkerblomrörelsen by Captain Cougar

Captain Cougar - Åkerblomrörelsen
Captain Cougar – Åkerblomrörelsen

Captain Cougar – Åkerblomrörelsen (Pinetree Records, 2014)

Finnish band Captain Cougar, from Jyväskylä, uses contemporary folk music in the nicely-crafted album Åkerblomrörelsen to recount the story of the 20th century evangelical movement that became a sect in the Swedish speaking area of Ostrobothnia, in Finland. The group was led by the prophecies of Maria Åkerblom, who affirmed she received them directly from God. Maria delivered her sermons in trances and travelled throughout Finland spreading the word.

Even though Captain Cougar is a Finnish band, their style and arrangements are much closer to Americana, especially with the English-language vocals and the way the band uses the piano and electric guitar.

The lineup includes Captain Cougar is a folk rock band, Finland, made up of Laura Lehtola, on vocals; Juha Kujanpää, on piano, synthesizers and reed organ; Jussi Petäjä, on guitars and vocals; Juha-Matti Rautiainen on bass and vocals; and Janne Torvikoski, on drums and percussion.

The CD booklet reveals much more about the controversial life of Maria Åkerblom.