Well, the road to Finland was rough and rocky (30 hours!), but comparatively, the FinnAir direct flight back from Helsinki to Chicago was absolutely lovely. I had an incredible time in Finland and before I forget, I want to take a quick moment to thank those who made it all possible: To KK and Lauri Ollari, the organizers of the Rockabilly Rocks! festival in Järvenpää, Finland—that was awesome!!

Many thanks for inviting me be a part of such a cool festival. The Vanhankylän Kartano venue was amazing, the hospitality beyond generous, and Tuusula Lake—the same lake on which Jean Sibelius, Alexis Kivi, Juhani Aho, Pekka Halonen, and other famous Finnish artists built their homes (Alvar Aalto even designed some of the homes there, too)—was simply breathtaking. Once the weather cleared up, well, there couldn’t have been a better spot anywhere in Finland for such a festival--Truth! It was wonderful to see so many friends whom I haven't seen in some time and the bands on the bill were killer—I particularly enjoyed sets by the Truly Lover Trio, Russia’s Diamond Hand, the Swedish cats in Tupelo Highshots and Ed Cavin’s Blue Kings, and of course some killer Finnish groups that I really dig—the Rockin’ 8-Balls, Hal Peters Trio, Whistle Bait, the Million Dollar Tones, Pete Boy R'n'R Trio, 20th Flight Rockers, and Limiteds. I’d seen Paul Ansell’s Number Nine and the Blue Cats a few times before and they were again super fun, and of course I enjoyed hearing and meeting Matchbox—authors of my all-time favorite neo-rockabilly tune (see: "Rockabilly Paukkuu"). And of course, DJ Farmer John and DJ Daryl kept us rockin' until the wee hours. The whole event was a real testiment to the diversity of music that falls under the "rockabilly" umbrella. Most of all, I want to thank KK, Jake Lähdeniemi, Jussi Huhtakangas, and Jani Ahtiainen for holding everything together during our first set without any rehearsal (no thanks to American Airlines!) and still rocking the masses. Somehow it all worked out. And of course, I owe an extra special thanks to Jake and KK for playing a completely different set with me on Saturday and pulling that one off too. That second set was super fun, especially with the guest spot of Alexander Diamond rocking some Johnny Horton with us (now that’s some USA-Russia collaboration I can get behind!!), as was guesting with the Rockin’ 8-Balls (paras bandi mailmaassa!) for a little Link Davis-Starday mayhem. Lots of videos and pics are getting posted online and its great to see them popping up. Kiitos Hank Lemmetti, Kari Ponkilainen and kittos kaikkille!

Rockin' at the Rockabilly Rocks! Festival in Järvenpää, Finland. Photo by Hank Lemmetti

Rockin' at the Rockabilly Rocks! Festival in Järvenpää, Finland. Photo by Pasi Rytkonen.

After the festival I feel incredibly fortunate to have met with some of the foremost music scholars in Finland and I owe thanks to Mikko Mattlar and Kim Emil Ramstedt for organizing their fantastic PHDJ series with Vesa Kurkela, who gave a great talk about the history of music in Helsinki. I also really enjoyed talking with Saijaleena Rantanen and Pekka Gronow about their Finnish-American music research and exploring some of the ways in which we might partner up in the near future. Some exciting stuff is in the works! Getting a private tour of the National Library of Finland’s Music Archive, visiting the Sibelius Academy, and touring the Alvar Aalto--Art and the Modern Form exhibit at the Ateneum were also trip highlights, but most of all, I loved seeing and catching up with my Finnish pals. My many thanks to Taina and fam for spending their last day of holidays with me and Salla at Linnanmäki, to KK and Saana for their kind hosptitality and the delicious Finnish pirogis, to Pete Hakonen for the stellar company and always good record deals at the Goofin' Records shop in Helsinki (and for restocking my personal Goofin’ Starday Sessions CD supply), and also my many thanks and belated birthday wishes to Salla for generously hosting and making time for me and getting me up to speed on the Track and Field World Championships in London. You’re the greatest--Thank you all! It was a super short trip and I didn’t get to see nearly everyone whom I had hoped to see, but if I didn’t get to see you this time around, let’s find a way to make it happen in the near future! Finland or Wisconsin, or anywhere in between! Kiitos paljon!

 Rockin' the '50s American diner in the middle of Helsinki with dear friends.

With Pekka Gronow, talking about both Finnish and Finnish-American music. Photo by kind woman.

Photo by me. "The Giant Pike" by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, "An October Day in Aland" by Victor Westerholm, "Bohemian Fiddler" by Ida Silfverberg, and the infamous "Aino Myth" triptych by Gallen-Kallela, seen at the Ateneum.

Ridin' the rides at Linnanmäki and getting super dizzy. Photo by Taina Vehkasalmi.