This is my fist time to play in Finland. I’ve been in Finland once before but didn’t play. We had played in Haparanda, which is in Sweden and we slept that night just across the border in Tornio, which is in Finland, so it’s nice to be back to work a little.
Well, work might be a big word here because this is 99% fun. Anyway, got here without any hassle whatsoever. The flight was with Finnair. They say they are the most efficient airline but even they couldn’t prevent us taking off about 20 mins. late. After skipping over to Europe all the time recently with either Easyjet or Ryanair it was nice to be on a plane that gives you that little extra let room (well for a tall guy like me anyway). They served us up some food and drinks as well, so definitely off to a good start. The flight was about two and a half hours, so quite comfortable.
I arrived, cleared customs no problem and the idea was that I’d be met by Eva and Ande, two of the organisers. However, there was no sign of them. It was only then I realised I hadn’t bothered to bring any contact info with me, so basically I had no telephone numbers, didn’t know what hotel I was staying at, where the gig was or what the schedule was. No worries, I always say to myself and so I had Eva and Ande paged. Sure enough, they were there, just waiting at another gate. See, never any need to panic! 🙂
They dropped me off at the Holiday Inn, which will be my ‘home’ for the next few days. A nice little touch on behalf of the hotel is that when you enter your room the TV is on and it says; “welcome Mr. Mc Cabe and we hope you’ll enjoy your stay at the Holiday Inn”. Obviously they punch it in at the reception after you’ve checked in or whatever. Some of the other musicians arrived the same day as I did so we were all invited to go to the venue and have dinner together.
We met the guys from the Wentus Blues Band as well – http://www.wentusbluesband.com – They’ll be backing everyone. We had a chance to get to know each other over dinner and they are really nice guys. They’ve worked with quite a few people so I’m pretty confident they’ll know what to do. The venue is a really big long, high hall. It was full with tables and it seems it was a special night for the sponsors. I think they were as interested in the food and drink as they were in the music. Some things are the same everywhere I suppose.
The blues song contest is part of the Vantaa Jazz Festival. The festival was held for the first time last year and it seems it was a big success. Eva suggested the blues song contest theme for this year’s festival and obviously they liked the idea because we’re all here! There was a local jazz band on first and they were quite good – youngsters, really. After that there was a ‘big band’ – you know, Glenn Miller style stuff. The band was from Estonia and they were really good. After that was a guy who is about 3rd generation Finnish but grew up in the States.
I stayed for about half of his set and then decided to take an early night as I was up first for rehearsals next morning (starting at 10.30). I walked outside the venue only to see the sun hovering just above the horizon – and this was about 11 o’clock at NIGHT!! I’d forgotten about that – lots of daylight up here in the summer. I didn’t think it was also this far south in the country. I’d been up in Tromso in Norway in the middle of summer (and the middle of winter too for that matter) so you expect it when you’re 500 miles ABOVE the Artic Circle but I hadn’t expected it here. It was difficult to get to sleep yet I was too tired to really look and see if they had shutters on the windows. I tried closing the curtains as best I could but that daylight kept creeping in around the corners. I tried watching some TV for awhile but I was still in a ‘I’m tired but still too awake to sleep mode’. Anyway, that’s about the end of day one here. I’ll report some more tomorrow.