Yesterday we had two concerts. The second one was special. We played in Valkeakoski Memory Center, where lives old people with serious memory problems, caused by Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
We had an audience of about 30 people. The nurses told us not to play more than half an hour. Maybe we could have played more, at least the audience listened very carefully and intensively. It was great to see an old man react to the name of Matti Haudanmaa, a famous Finnish fiddler. It was great that another guy was moved to tears by the sound of nyckelharpa and talked us about it.
Afterwards we had coffee together with the audience. A smiling lady who sat next to us told us very nice memories about bike tours she made with her husband and another couple when they were young. They used tandem bikes that were made by welding two old frames together. The tandems worked fine and were fast. She said that she can’t ride anymore but it is great to have that kind of memories when you are old.
We hope our memories of this bike tour will stay with us as long and as colourful.
Now we are riding from Valkeakoski to Janakkala. It is a day to forget. Grey and rainy and cold with headwind.
Yesterday we played at Vihreä talo in Riihimäki. It is one of those great places where the owner has his/her heart in it, and you feel it when you enter. Riihimäki is a big town, and Vihreä talo is a small place. But it is the only indie place for any kind of indie happenings in the area. So it was crowded, which means that it was exciting but easy to give the concert. We had good fun there, and afterwards, with friends.
Today we woke up at 5 am and rode 90 kilometers to Työväen musiikkitapahtuma (Worker’s Music Festival) in Valkeakoski. It was a tough ride in the rain, and we arrived just 15 minutes before our firts gig. It was in a mall with no stage, no crew, no nothing. Well, the bikes and violin cases make a good feeling of stage, and we just started to play. Strangely, it was ok. People stopped and listened and asked questions and some bought CDs.
After lunch we had another concert. This time it was in the (not very) central square. No crew, no sound, no lights, just a few planks for a stage. Well, it was not raining so we just started to play, and it was great. A good crowd gathered around us, listened, asked questions, bought CDs.
A few weeks ago we wrote how important it is for a festival to integrate with the local community. To play in malls and squares is never easy, and it is far from ideal environment for rich details of professional folk fiddle music, but it is important all the same. It is what we asked for. And it is a challenge, sometimes even a rewarding challenge. You just have to adapt.
Every now and then a journalist asks us about the environmental side of the bike tour. We answer that we don’t want to preach. We just want to show that everyday choices to fight climate change are possible and fun. We ride our bikes, play and smile while doing it. Maybe it’s more effective.
For us that is easy to believe because we have visited glacier edges in Sarek and Spitsbergen, for example. Relatively new maps are not correct anymore. They show ice that is not there. That does not proof anything of course, but even vanishing glaciers are kind of big things, and when you see by your own eyes what happens to them, you really feel it.
Today at 4 pm Emilia will play tour’s only solo concert in Helsinki. It will be different for many reasons. We will have to ride only a few kilometers to get there and back, and we know all the people involved in the festival.
Hopefully we don’t know all the audience, but that is always a risk in Helsinki. There is so much festivals and concerts and happenings here during summer that audiences are kind of segmented. You can listen to music you already know you like. That is a bit boring, and that is also very different to the Finnish countryside, where you can’t choose. If you want to go to concert, you must go to the only concert there is, which means you may hear something new. That is a good thing.
Well, the idea of Puistokarkelot festival is that people who come to the park anyway will listen to the music, and that may get some new audience for the folk music also. We’ll see.
Karen piti tehdä Haapaveden konserttiradioinnin kylkeen vartin radio-ohjelma kiertueesta, mutta kävikin niin että Emilia istui synnyinkotinsa laiturilla ja puhui nauhalle kolme varttia itsekseen. Tulos on rauhallinen, syvä sukellus kiertueen herättämiin ajatuksiin ja tunteisiin. Julkaistakoon se kokonaisuudessaan tässä.
Ei-minkään tekeminen onnistui Suolahdessa erinomaisesti. Teimme tuhannen palan palapelin, saunoimme ja olimme ajamatta polkupyörää. Kroppa ja mieli menivät välittömästi pois päältä, kun jatkuva kiertuepaine loppui, mutta nyt alkaa taas olla elonmerkkejä.
Kare on kirjoittanut uuden lehdistötiedotteen ja huoltanut pyörät. Vain yksi ketju meni vaihtoon. Emilia on tehnyt teostoilmoituksia ja toimistotöitä.
Nyt tekee taas mieli ajaa pyörää ja soittaa viulua. Uusi ohjelmisto tulvi korviin rahisevilta arkistonauhoilta, mutta ei vielä ehdi sunnuntain Puistokarkeloihin Alppipuistoon.
Siirryimme muuten Helsinkiin härskisti autolla. Siinäpä onkin hiilidioksidiperustelemista, mutta kas kun alkukesästä veimme kissat Suolahteen hoitoon autolla, niin piti se kärry takaisinkin ajaa, sille on täälläkin lainaajia. Ei kun antaa tekosyiden olla.
Tomorrow will be our first day off in almost three weeks. We have ridden more than 1600 km. We have played (and talked…) more than 15 concerts. We have given interviews and updated social media more than we can remember.
It has been great, but we feel… well, not tired, but kind of thin. The human mind is built so that it can achieve the goal but no more. The last kilometres to Emilia’s parents’ house in Suolahti felt heavy. Tomorrow we will eat strawberries, do nothing and stay in one place more than one night. That’s what we have been dreaming of, even though all the places we have stayed one night have been great.
Today we played at Jyväskylän Kesä festival. First a nice, small summer cafe concert that was not too well organized by the festival, but the sunshine made it worth it. And then a short session at the city center for a big crowd.
The biggest folk music festival in Finland is Kaustinen, no question. The whole music genre is there simultaneously. That means it is impossible to meet all friends, to play in all jam sessions, to listen to all intresting bands. Kaustinen is a festival of compromises.
We had good time and our biggest concert in Iholla hall was good. The acoustics makes it easy to play.
But the biggest happening was undoubtedly Antti Paalanen’s concert in Areena on a rainy night. One angry man with one loud accordeon made several hundred people dance like maniacs. We will soon edit some video material, it cannot be described in words.
After Kaustinen we have been riding south again, to Jyväskylä. Rain, thunder and too big roads, but also incredible hospitality that is possible only in the Finnish countryside.
At the moment we feel tired, mainly mentally. Lots of concerts, lots of media work, lots of learning. And lots of Finnish roads.