Finland – continued

Following on from yesterday’s entry – I must have fallen asleep eventually because the next thing I know is that the phone is ringing and it’s the organisers, who are downstairs and telling me they’re ready to bring me to rehearsals.

Quick breakfast and we’re off. The weather is really nice up here these days (sunny), which makes everything that little bit more pleasant. I’m the first of the six finalists to rehearse and the boys in the band have been working hard already and have everything set up. We launch right into “One Of These Days” and they’ve done their homework alight! Everything fits like a glove. We work out who’s going to do what on it (they have two guitarists) so one guy decides to sit this one out and play on “I Don’t Know Your Name” (the other song I’ll be playing here). It’s not going to be judged, it’s just to make the whole thing more of a show.

We get through the songs in no time. Hey, if it ain’t broke, no need to fix it. Having the best part of half-an-hour still I ask the guys if they feel like jamming. They thought this was a great idea and they proceeded to tell me about a Bob Dylan song [Blind Willie McTell] they used to play when they backed up Mick Taylor on tour. Mick played it on the record with Bob. They said “One Of These Days” reminded them of it a little. So we jammed that one and it’s a lovely song alright. They had to run through the songs with some of the other finalists – plus they had a gig somewhere up the country last night. They’re keeping themselves busy. Great musicians. I’m really looking forward to playing with them again tonight.

We went back down to the venue last night to catch some more music. The idea or theme for last night was to mix the young with the old. The basic band was these older guys who play jazz all the time and they added several young artists who are famous in Finland – but then for doing different things. So you could have someone who’s involved in drama or TV singing with this jazz band. Nice idea and by and large it worked.

I got talking to a girl called Susanna Moisio after her performance. She’s more a pop/rock singer – and has had several hit singles here -and she did a great job with the jazz tunes as well. We got to talking about the music scene in general in Finland and she told me (surprisingly) that dance bands are really popular in Finland. She painted this picture for me whereby it seems dance bands travel up and down the country and play in these halls which are often way out in the middle of nowhere. People materialise out of the surrounding areas and fill these halls just to dance. There is no alcohol for sale and often all you can hear is the sound of people gliding or waltzing around the floor. Sort of reminded me of the ballroom scene in Ireland years ago!

After that it was time for me to head back to my hotel room and fight with the curtains once again. I heard from Ras (one of the other finalists – a Nigerian guy who’s operating out of Paris []) that he’d had the exact same situation as I had as regards getting to sleep. Let’s hope we’re more successful tonight!!

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