Varttina by boxplayer


Finnish folk vocal troupe Varttina get excited on stage at King's Place.

Nice to wake up in our own bed after a few nights in France - ready for entertaining visitors coming down to join us for a Finntastic few days of music as part of the London International Festival of Exploratory Music (or less mouthfully, LIFEM) at King's Place which this year was focusing on music from Finland - including a massive smattering of Finnish folk/trad.

Now I'm half-Finnish, and obviously am big into folk/trad, so this was a bit of a highlight in the calendar, a chance to see Finnish bands I haven't seen in ages or not at all.

Tulin arrived late morning and after a bit of lunch, I nipped off to Sainsbury's to do a big shop to stock up for the other guests arriving later. Tulin, Dave and I then headed out to King's Place where we met my mum, plus loads of other people we knew who'd turned out to catch Varttina.

I was just heading down the escalator to get drinks in with Dave when I saw a face I recognised on the opposite up escalator. Realised it was someone I hadn't seen for probably near enough 20 years. In 1992, I wanted to go to the biggest folk festival in Finland at Kaustinen but didn't have anyone to go with. This was obviously in the days before the internet or email, let alone Facebook - so I put an ad in the Finnish Church newsletter, asking if anyone fancied going. A young woman called Tina replied who turned out to be half-Finnish, half-Trinidadian (the other half of me is Turkish, so we made a good pair). She was an ethnomusicology postgrad researcher and was keen to go and reconnect with her roots in a musical context. Anyway, it was her on the escalator at King's Place - so I bolted back up the other side and we had a good old catch-up and swapped numbers.

Met Anna and Sophie who'd had a slap-up dinner in Carluccio's and then we all trooped into the hall for a fab evening of music from this energetic trio. They started out singing ancient songs from the Karelian part of Finland (now part of Russia) in the old dialect from there, but now write all their own stuff. They sing powerfully and in harmony, jig about, wear silly costumes and have a great backing band. Haven't seen them since I went to Kaustinen again 10 years ago. Much fun.

After, mum got a lift back with some people she'd met and Tulin, Sophie, Anna, Dave and I headed home. Tucked into nibbles and opened the prosecco so was a bit of a late one - as per usual when we get together. Nice to be able to finally put people up now we have a house.

Varttina do their version of an old Finnish laundering song

March of the goblins

30 October 2013
King's Place, King's Cross N1
All sounds lots of fun - I particularly like the reunion over the escalator!
November 6th, 2013  
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