Akkapelimannit have released their début album – only 30 years after the band was started! The disc features a thorough cross-section of the band’s repertoire, including traditional pieces from the Kaustinen area, original tunes by the band members and their relatives and pieces by two of the greatest folk musicians and composers to have come out of Kaustinen: Konsta Jylhä and Wiljami Niittykoski.
Violins, harmonium and double bass form the combo for which the music of the Kaustinen area is known. Akkapelimannit consists of a formidable lineup of musicians originating in Kaustinen with solid roots in the fiddler tradition: on violin and vocals, Kreeta-Maria Kentala, Kaija Saarikettu, Maria Pulakka, Minna Järvelä and Leenakaisa Sandberg; on double bass, Jaana Virkkala; and on harmonium, Kaarina Nisonen and Merja Wirkkala, who also sings. Also known as musicians and teachers around Finland in classical and Baroque music, they are living proof that at Kaustinen classical and folk music have always gone hand in hand.
The band’s genesis dates back to the early 1980s when Baroque violinist Kreeta-Maria Kentala got fed up with “the Kaustinen flag only being flown by men” in small fiddler bands, as she put it; hence the first women’s fiddler ensemble in Kaustinen was born, as the well edited booklet accompanying the disc explains. The band has led by example, i.e. by making excellent music, to foster equality in the field of folk music, and the situation is now certainly better than it was 30 years ago.
The disc is a good introduction to the gamut of music from Kaustinen, its history and the local humour. Even the playing styles of individual villages are discernible. At times the musicians sing in parts, echoing the legendary local Kaustisen hääkuoro [wedding choir], even if the pieces they sing may be humorous songs or fiery tangos, representing a more recent stratum of dance tunes than the traditional marches or the local dance tune medley known as the purppuri.
While the traditional pieces and the music of folk music composers from Kaustinen are given a robust outing, there is also a deep respect here for past generations. The band’s irresistible sense of humour finds outlets in small touches like the shout at the end of Kaustisen marssi [Kaustinen march] or the witty but sadly untranslatable word play in the title of the polka medley that concludes the disc, Käki-Jaakko tuikkasi pokkaria nilikhan.
Alba ABACD 23