Guten Abend! 10.10.2015
Hello from the tour in Germany! The winter is coming, but not just yet, two days ago in the South of Germany, Stuttgart had almost + 20 degrees when we played a sold out show at Laboratorium. Lovely!
It´s good to be back on the road. Before coming to “Deutchland”, me and my band mates Davide Floreno, Juha Verona, Heikki Kervinen and Markku Reinikainen (and the drummer Tatu Pärssinen joining us for the German part Markku going back to Finland) toured British Islands for 2,5 weeks. The tour was successful, we got some new fans, met some “old” ones and got some great reviews! Aww, good old Britain, we had so much fun and You´ve given me a lot!
I was very pleased to hear that I was chosen as the Nro 1 International Solo Artist in the Blues Matters Writer´s Poll in the UK. Wow, that really felt amazing! And in addition the latest album “Live In London” was chosen as the best live album of the year 2015. So yes, there´s definitely great things happening and the hard work is finally starting to pay off. It does feel good to get the recognition for what you do. Positive feedback is so important. It´s easier to put up with long days on the road and constant stretching in the music business, when things are moving forward, slowly but surely. But you also need a right team for things to happen. So I´m grateful for all the people, who have been helping along the way – from the early school years to present!
As a child in an elementary school, I remember we had music lessons with a teacher who had had a basic teacher´s trainee. So the music lessons weren´t nothing too fancy. I was already studying in the conservatory, so as you can imagine I was a bit bored sometimes. But then we got a new teacher. Pertti was a professional choir leader, could sing and play the piano and really knew about the music theory. And most importantly he knew how to teach it. I still remember how he drew a sign of a fermata on the chalkboard asking us pupils what it stated for. I was the only one lifting my hand up and answering to the question. I still remember his face how impressed he was. He probably didn´t think that anyone would know. And then we got to the real business. We started to have singing tests and we were learning about music theory too. One of the tests I decided to sing a Finnish spiritual song called “En Etsi Valtaa Loistoa” [I Don´t Search For Power, Glory] and I remember how much I enjoyed it. There was this funny feeling going through my body when reaching the highest point in the song. As if the song and the music had gone to each of my cells. There was this enthusiasm, which I felt every time when singing a song with an uplifting melody. My numbers from average eight went to ten. The teacher was able to tell what was good and what wasn´t. He was able to demand right things from us pupils and push us to do better. You see how important it is to be in “right hands”? And how much it effects to your live. It is important to be among professional people who can push you to get better. And give you the recognition what you deserve. So that is something I´m trying to remember myself when working with younger people and younger musicians.
Talking about work. We had a very rare, a big strike in Finland some time ago, organized by labor unions. They were against of the cuts that government was planning to do. I do try to follow the politics, because what ever is going on, will have an effect to the music biz too. As an entrepreneur the strike made me think of the business situation of Finland. There should be a way to improve Finland’s economic situation, export and competitiveness. And that’s what the government is trying to do. I have to say it is quite expensive to hire employees in Finland, because of all kind of payments you need to take care of. I wouldn´t mind things improve in that matter. I´d gladly hire more people!
And speaking of hiring people, there has been an addition to our traveling party on the German tour: a nanny and two toddlers! It has been really tough year to try to do all the things at the same time; gigs, music business, office hours and taking care of the children at the same time. So a couple of months ago I decided to hire a full-time nanny for my twins. And by hiring her, I will be able to work more too, as you probably know I like to. So this hopefully eases the situation a bit. She is very enthusiastic and as most young people, very excited to do her job. Also touring with twins isn´t an ordinary job, but will hopefully be a great experience for a 19-year-old girl.
Before going to the UK in the beginning of the October, I had even younger employee working for me. (Yes, I think it is really good to work with young people occasionally, because you learn, they learn – win/win situation!) All the pupils age of 15 do an intern ship for two weeks in the company they have chosen. My Goddaughter Maria wanted to work with me so I took her on tour with Riku Niemi Orchestra featuring musicians Aija Puurtinen, Maria Hänninen and myself. The orchestra consists of twenty-five people including horns, strings and a full band. So it was a big production. Not an easy task to start with! I was a bit concerned how she would manage on the merchandise desk after 800 people walking out of the concert hall.. But she did surprisingly well! I was also aware of that I had a responsible job to teach many things, not just what to do on tour, but general things about life. What was interesting, I realized after spending an intensive period of time with her, how aware she was about nutrition, environment and health. Definitely even more than I was twenty years ago. Times change, hopefully for the better!
On our first night in Germany, the show was in a school building in little town of Kellinghusen. I met some young guys aged twenty to thirty. These young men were refugees from Syria and Iraq. They´d been offered to do some occasional tasks at the school to spend their time better. So we talked about the situation of refugees and the situation in Europe. They we´re very ordinary looking young men, dressed in jeans and leather jackets, some had little tattoos too, I couldn´t tell the difference If I´d went to a rock concert if they´d be refugees or not. But they probably had seen much more things that they should have. They told me that they´ d come to Germany to look something better for their lives (Finland was too cold, they´d been told), because life back in their home countries wasn´t reasonable and safe. When speaking with them, I really got an impression that they genuinely wanted to learn German, learn things and to be able to work in the society. They simply wanted something better from life. Is that too much to ask? They said it was impossible to do anything in their home countries. All I can say that the situation of world feels very vulnerable right now in many ways. The future is in the hands of young people, and may them be clever, wiser and tolerable hands than ever to make world better place for all of us. Make music, not war!
Twin bunnies after a bath.. you get a bit dirty on the tour bus!
Picture by Klemens Kübber