Yesterday was a mighty fun day. Since I moved to Finland in September I've known about this all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut lunch buffet but have never once indulged. This surprising act of restraint was at last broken at precisely 11:35 a.m. as I met Salla for a lovely deep dish food frenzy in downtown Helsinki. From there I joined guit-slinger extraordinaire Tuomas Metsberg and we drove to Nummela to meet up with Masa Saloranta and Ari Berghäll. These three gentlemen comprise 3/5 of the Vesa Snygg ja sekä Satelliitti-yhtye and they spent the first few hours of the afternoon putting the final touches on their new record. Everything I heard sounded fantastic and their sophomore release is among my most highly anticipated record acquisitions as soon as it becomes available.
Meanwhile, I spent the afternoon at the uber-Finnish Salorannantalo practicing the new tunes I foolishly requested that the band learn for our show later that evening. I say 'foolishly' because choosing roughly seven or eight songs that I myself have never performed before could have been a really bad idea, but fortunately it all worked out. All three guys are extremely talented musicians and I think we pulled it off quite well in the end.
After arriving in Salo, we set up the PA and quickly soundchecked before Masa and I set off to check out the massive flea market that spread over two bridges and everything in between on both sides of the river. Unfortunately, no real bargains surfaced for me, in short because it started raining shortly after we got there and people began to pack up their things, but it was awesome listening to one of the sellers playing his Olavi Virta 78s on the old crank Victrola machine. As Masa and I returned to the stage area I met with one of the event organizers and she informed me that I was the first ever foreigner to perform at the Iltatori event. Very exciting!
A fashion show preceded our show and, even though the rain had already begun to fall on the crowd, the fashionistas gathered quite a large crowd to the stage. Even after the fashion show ended, to my surprise, folks stuck around to hear us play... It was great and I think that from now on I am going to put 'please organize a fashion show before our performance' in all future band riders...
The gig itself was really fun. We stayed dry under the tarp (for the most part) and had us a grand old time picking country, rockabilly, some western swing stuff, some '50s pop, and all sorts of tunes in between. The crowd, on the other hand, got soaked.
But despite the rain, folks stayed and listened, some danced, and some even sat with their soaking wet dogs and ate ice cream while we played songs about crying (unintentionally, the first three songs all focused on crying-- 'All I Can Do Is Cry,' 'All the Way Home,' and 'Your Cheating Heart'). Who knows, perhaps one day video will even surface of our Tom Jones-inspired 'Treat Her Right' cover, complete with dance breakdown... Here's hoping at least!
Just as we were packing up we were greeted by the only person (other than Masa) that I knew in Salo, my friend A.P. Niemi. I had interviewed A.P. a month earlier about his time spent as the bass player in Teddy and the Tigers, and I was mighty honored that he came out to see us and have dinner with the band before we left town. To my surprise, he even gifted to me his last Teddy and the Tigers T-shirt! Awesome!! Thank you A.P.! And thank you to everyone who came out to hear us perform. It was an honor to be the first international performer on that stage and I can't thank y'all enough for the hospitality. I gotta say, it was awesome to see folks from all walks of life having such a good time despite the weather and I send an extra special thank you to everyone who stuck around after the show to talk with me, both in English and Finnish. And to the gentleman who had even printed up his own high-res glossy 8x10 of me to sign, thanks and... how did you do that?! Finally, a big thank you to the band, the Fabulous Fontanaires (as they were called for this gig), to all the staff organizing and working the event, to Masa for inviting me to play this gig, and to his lovely wife Heli for the photos! I'll hope to see Salo again soon!
photo: me rockin' my new Teddy and the Tigers shirt