Finland’s Summer Music Festivals | Jazz & Blues
As mentioned in our last blog post, Finland hosts more than a few summer music festivals every year. Previously, we identified 15 of the best popular music festivals in Finland, covering rock and pop, metal and dance. Although there are considerably less festivals dedicated to Jazz and Blues, there are still almost 30 happenings throughout Finland, and we have selected a dozen of the biggest and best for you.
The first up is the Lumo Jazz festival held in Kuopio from June 13th to 16th, in the lakeside setting of Ravintola Wanha Satama in the city’s delightful passenger harbour. Lumo Jazz is now in its fifth year, and this year the highlights include singer Aili Ikonen performing her scatty tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, saxophonist Jukka Perko, and the spaced out jazzy sounds of Elifantree. There will also be the ska/reggae beats of Posteljoona & Ystävät, as well as world music courtesy of the Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble featuring Axl Smith. The festival pass costs 50€, and day tickets range from 8€ to 20€.
The Lakeside Blues Festival, aka Puistoblues, is Finland’s largest blues festival and runs from June 26th to 30th in the town of Järvenpää, which is best known for Ainola, the house that belonged to Jean Sibelius. It is just 40km north of Helsinki and well served by both trains and buses, which makes the festival popular with the capital’s inhabitants. The first Puistoblues was held back in 1978, and since then it has grown to become one of Europe’s leading blues events. During the festival, there are several events on the ever popular blues street and concerts at clubs and restaurants. The main event begins in Vanhankylänniemi at 12 noon on Saturday the 29th, and features George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and Curtis Salgado, all hailing from the US, ably supported by Finland’s own Q.Stone. Elsewhere in the festival performers include American soul sister Nicole Willis with her band The Soul Investigators, Mojo Workings from Hungary, and Robbie Hill & Blue 62s (US/UK/Fin). Tickets for the main event cost 65€.
The Kalott Jazz & Blues Festival runs from June 27th to 30th and can easily lay claim to being the largest jazz celebration in the far north, being held in the towns of Tornio and Haparanda, the former being in Finland and the latter just over the border in Sweden. For four days and nights these usually sedate towns buzz, with artists from around the globe performing in concert halls, in a jazz marquee, in town squares and in clubs. This year’s performers include Modern Sounds (USA), Dave Lindholm, Red Hot Delta Fusion, Micke Björklöf & Blue Strip, HERD featuring Aili Ikonen, plus the eccentric M.A. Numminen.
Taking place between June 28th and July 4th, the Imatra Big Band Festival will feature an impressive collection of international and Finnish talent performing in a variety of venues around Imatra, famed for the Imantroski rapids and the Valtion hotel. The main venue if the IBBF Marquee, but other events include picnic concerts, Lake Saimaa jazz and blues cruises, and open air concerts. The jazz highlights include the Nat Newborn Big Time band, Marcia Lisboa Band, the Afro-Cuban All Stars, and Jugend Jazz Orchester NRW from Germany. Finnish jazz is represented by Spirit of New Orleans featuring Tricia Boutte and Leroy Jones, Dalindèo, HERD featuring Aili Ikonen, and the Junior All Stars Big Band, a collection of Finland’s most talented, young big band musicians. Blues enthusiasts should check out Corey Harris and The Rasta Blues Experience, as well as performances by legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter.
The Savonsolmu Beach and Blues Party takes place on July 5th and 6th in Pieksämäki, mostly at the Savonsolmu Hotel, located on a peninsula of beautiful Lake Pieksäjärvi, but also in the Music Bar Corona. This years performers are The Shakin’ Skeletons, Kapa Montonen & The Bluesment Brothers, Helge Tallqvist Band feat. Ina Forsman, Bettie & The Handsome Trio, Q. Stone, Jake’s Blues Band, Johnny Pallari & His Rhythm Devils, and The Hoolers.
The town of Hämeenlinna hosts the LinnaJazz festival from July 11th to 14th, which holds concerts and events in no less than 9 different locations. The main event is held in Linnanpuisto next to the historic Häme Castle, with other locations that include the birthplace of Sibelius, Hämeenlinna Church, Aulanko Golf Club, the Market Square, and lake cruises on the m/s Silver Moon. The international acts performing this year are Kat Baloun, Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators, Leroy Jones, Michael Manring, and the Juli Wood – Ted Curson Quintet (all hailing from the US), Marcia Lisboa from Brazil, and West Weston from the UK. Many events are free, others cost a mere 5€ or 7€, with the most expensive being the cruises which will set you back 35€.
Rauma Blues is one of the oldest and largest blues festivals in Finland. Taking place this year on July 12th and 13th, the main stage is the Kukko Arena in Rauma, with other concerts taking place in Café Sali, Buena Vista and Bar Hovi. The main concert will feature Jack Hadley & St Louis Blues All Stars, the Heritage Blues Orchestra, Watermelon Slim & The Workers, all from the US, as well as Vidar Busk of Norway, and Finland’s own Dumari ja Spuget. Performers in the clubs include Jasmine Kara (SWE), Flamtastics, Northern Governors, and Micke & Lefty featuring Chef.
The daddy of them all, Pori Jazz Festival has been running since 1966, and is one of the biggest jazz festivals in Europe, attracting around 150,000 visitors to over 100 shows every year to the town of Pori. It has garnered a little criticism in recent years, mainly from jazz aficionados who feel the festival has become too commercial, but it still manages to attract some of the greats in the world of jazz, and this year is no exception. Between July 13th to 21st it will host McCoy Tyner, Dave Douglas, Iiro Rantala and the Ricky-Tick Big Band, Jazzanova, as well as Mikko Innanen, Paul Lovens and Wanja Slavin in the avant-garde Ultra Music series. There are some great blues acts also confirmed, including Robert Cray, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Eric Burdon, Steve Winwood, Bonnie Raitt, and Marjo Leinonen Huff’n’Puff. Other notable acts performing this year, but with no connection to either jazz or blues, include Earth Wind & Fire, Kendrick Lamar, Amadou & Mariam, U-Roy, Cody ChesnuTT, John Legend, and Bobby Womack. In all, there are some 120 performances, with ticket prices varying from gig to gig. I couldn’t find festival pass information on the official site, but I expect there is one. (anyone who knows could post the info in the comments section).
The Keitele Jazz festival takes place from July 24th to 27th in Äänekoski, a small town north of Jyväskylä. It is another of the jazz festivals that has seen more rock and pop added to the line up as the years pass, but this year has managed to attract two genuine legends of drumming in Ginger Baker and Billy Cobham. Other jazz acts performing are HERD and Iiro Rantala. There’s also an excellent blues night featuring Royal Southern Brotherhood, Dr Feelgood, and Ben Granfelt.
Jazz Espa 2013 runs from July 22nd to August 2nd, with free concerts almost afternoon (there are no concerts on the 28th) on Helsinki’s Espalade Park bandstand. Apart from the opening concert, there will be two performances per day, at 4.30 and 6pm, featuring up-and-coming Finnish musicians.
The EloJazz festival in Oulu takes place between the 1st and 3rd of August, with performances in Ravintola Rauhala, Ravintola Tervasoihtu, Jumpru Pub and in Ainola Park. This year’s performers include Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators, Jukka Eskola Orquesta Bossa, Dalindèo, Joey Calderazzo Trio, Teddy’s West Coasters, Oulu Youth Jazz Orchestra, Gemmer-Estola Quartet, and The Twisters. The festival pass costs 90€, with single day tickets costing 23€ or 37€, and 2 day passes costing 55€ or 70€.
The final event in our round-up of the best of the summer is the Viapori Jazz festival held from August 21st to 24th on the fortress island of Suomenlinna, in Helsinki’s archipelago. Most of the concerts will be staged in Tenalji von Fersen, an atmospheric 18th century hall, and also in Café Chapman and in Suomenlinna Church. Once again, the festival’s focus is firmly on home grown talents who are already established, with performances by Teddy’s West Coasters, Emma Salokoski & Tuomo (singing Burt Bacharach songs), Jukka Perko, vibraphonist Severi Pyysalo & The Mokners, and Jazzbasilli. Getting there is easy, there are ferries leaving the harbour regularly throughout the day and night. Tickets for almost all of the concerts are priced at 25€.