Polenta: Mikko Malmivaara (left), Aino Kinnunen, Olli Sippola and Veera Kuisma as Polenta who also won the Konsta Jylhä competition in Kaustinen in 2019. (Photo: Tommi Ahonen)
The bands Hurja Halla, Polenta and Pelkkä Poutanen will receive a special invitation to Kaustinen Folk Music Festival this year. They have been selected as the showcase bands of 2023, in other words as ensembles that the festival especially wants to support in building a professional career.
Hurja Halla comes from Joensuu with their own trance-like music. The debut album Riitti (2022) had radio stations in many countries convinced of their talent. Pelkkä Poutanen is Tampere-based singer-composer Petra Poutanen’s solo production. Her debut album Pyhä veri vuotaa was nominated for Etno-Emma and is now a 2023 Teosto award candidate. Polenta sounds most like Finnish traditional fiddle music; it draws, among other things, from Kaustinen's fiddle playing heritage, as the name of the debut album Kaustinen Turbo (2021) indicates.
The level of applicants was exceptionally high this year, says Anne-Mari Hakamäki, Programme Director of the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival. The application period ended at the end of February, after which the jury examined the applicants.
– We received thirty great applications, the number is one of the largest yet. We are really happy with this concept. Last year's international delegation and the networking opportunities clearly increased the level among the applicants, says Anne-Mari Hakamäki.
International Opportunities Open for Showcase Bands
This year too, a delegation of invited guests will arrive at Kaustinen, and the showcase bands will once again have a unique opportunity to network with folk music influencers and concert sellers.
– Networking is a long-term effort, and we want to give the bands a hand in moving forward by creating contacts and connections, says Hakamäki.
In order for the selected bands to get the most out of the opportunity, Music Finland, which promotes music export, organizes a mentoring event for each of them before the festival week. The groups will receive guidance and encouragement to meet the delegation during the festival week in Kaustinen.
– In the mentoring session, we consider how to approach delegates and gig sellers in many different ways. This work is really important.
What do the selected showcase bands have in common, Programme Director Hakamäki?
– They are musically different from each other, but all of them have already done determined work for their own careers. They have high goals and a forward-thinking attitude. They work professionally in the field of folk music, have extensive networks and are looking for international contacts.
The delegation will be there to watch when all the showcase bands perform one after the other on Wednesday, July 12th, on Kallioklubi's big stage in the following order: Hurja Halla, Polenta, Pelkkä Poutanen. Radio is also a big incentive for musicians: Yle Radio 1 records every band's club gig. On Thursday, it's time for a free-form networking meeting with the delegation.
In addition, each showcase band has a second gig at a different location during the festival week.
The Kaustinen Folk Music Festival's next programme announcement will take place on April 4th. The largest folk music festival in the Nordic countries will be held in Kaustinen for the 56th time from 10th to 16th July.–16. heinäkuuta.
Liisa Haapanen (cello, vocals)
Janne Ojajärvi (flutes, Jew’s harp, harmonicas, vocals)
Eve Pietarinen (percussion, vocals)
Veera Kuisma (violin)
Aino Kinnunen (violin)
Olli Sippola (5-string violin, mandolin)
Mikko Malmivaara (guitar)
Petra Poutanen (vocals, kantele, live electronics)