Why Blueberry Hill?
Well, that’s the translation for the Mustikkamäki, the name of the place where music happens. Sure there’s that famous song under same name, too… So it’s kind of a creation of its own. We just had to pick the idea up and establish the festival to serve the music lovers!
First it was just Kari, a primus motor, and Anita, the hostess of Mustikkamäki, who created the festival. Soon Arto, our designer, and Ari, our musician, joined the team. Now we have taken off! It’s time for the night festival people!
We have had many great and famous musicians here over the years, like Verneri Pohjola, Kalevi Louhivuori, Olli Soikkeli, Micke Björklöf & Blue Strip, Erja Lyytinen, Junnu Aaltonen and Reiska Laine, M.A. Numminen and Pedro Hietanen… and many others who have done a really good job and entertained people well!
We’ve been mainly an one day festival. That from 2015 on we have had friday night for jazz and saturday for blues music. Welcome on our festival and enjoy about good music and cozy atmosphere!
The Head of The Blueberry Hill Festival Society
Welcome to the ninth Blueberry Hill Jazz & Blues Festival to the Maukkulan Mustikkamäki! Yes, you read it right. We were looking for another venue and had some other ideas, but came back crawling like a prodigal son. And that’s where we will stay at least up to the 10th Anniversary Festival 2018.
The Festival’s external look will be roughly the same as it’s been during the last couple of years. The stage and the tents on both sides, like an open V-letter, the seats under the open sky in the middle. Even our sound technician Kuisma is doing his third Festival in a row and for Tatu as the lightning technician it’s his second.
Hostess Anita’s crew will serve food and drinks and the surrounding atmosphere, Arto has designed our artistic look like always, Ari’s playing his sax, this time on blues band, and Kari’s hosting will be as improvised as ever. Thanks to the team of c. twenty people, the Festival is still happening, kicking alive and well!
And the Music…
We are privileged to announce that the Emmy winner of the best jazz record 2016 composer Aki Rissanen is the festival’s Artistic Advicer. He chose us the great singer Aili Ikonen and a phenomenal improviser, saxophonist Mikko Innanen along his own Aki Rissanen Trio. That has by the way the best possible rhythm section in current jazz in the whole world, if you ask me, bassist Antti Lötjönen and drummer Teppo Mäkynen.
At Friday night there’s going to be Aili and Aki, then Trio, then Aili with the quintet and finally the whole crew as the BBHF Jam hosted by Mikko Innanen. It’s going to be the fireworks of live music!
The Blues scene at Saturday night is going to start with Englishman living in Rääkkylä L.R. Phoenix & Son. He’s gone back to his roots, so if you still remember his gig at 2012, you don’t want to miss this! Lemmy’s Bluesband is our Ari’s creation. This time he has formed a group from skilful provincial musicians to perform us some blues. Our second international name is Argentinian guitar hero living in North of Finland, mr. Saverio Maccne & Double Ace. It’s the closest you can get to late Stevie Ray, I’d say.
And Finally, the BBHF Festival is happy to introduce to our audience, for what Ina Forsman is built for! She’s born to be a singer and an entertainer and has already showed to the whole blues world more than just a storm warning!
If you excepted some musical wonders and magical moments this year you got them! At friday night we had our provincial wonder boy living in New York, Olli Soikkeli Trio featuring another great gypsy jazz guitarist from Holland, Paulus Schäfer. Soikkeli has knocked out our audience twice already, and this time it was as amazing as ever.
And it didn’t stop here. Following them was Verneri Pohjola Quartet whose every musician is, if not the best, among the best current jazz musicians there is in Finland today! This was just the unique experience!
All the way one of our principles have been to introduce to our festival audience some local skill and talent. Our opening act this year was a lovely duo from Ilomantsi: Elli & Joonas Nuutinen. In a good company they did an honourable gig.
Our headline artist for the saturday night was a dynamic White Knuckles Trio, that was nominated the best newcomer blues band in Finland year 2015. The audience was already well warmed up for them because of the hard working bluesband, Tomi Leino Trio. They really have the knack for blues.
Ninni Poijärvi’s violin and Mika Kuokkanen’s guitar gave us really skilful, sympathetic and pleasant moments with more down on earth root music. The opening act, fivepiece Carl Olin Band came from Porvoo and offered our audience steady set of soul, blues, rock and jazz covers. Our Ari gave them both some support with his saxophone.
The eighth Blueberry Hill Jazz & Blues Festival technics were engineered with the Vuorenvoima, Tatu Vuori and Kuisma Potkonen.
Blueberry Hill Jazz & Blues Festival took place the 7th of August with jazz groups and the the 8th of August with blues bands.
Our headline artist on jazz was Kalevi Louhivuori Quintet performing Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie music among their own material! Their gig was one of the greatest moments ever on our festival!
We also had another international recording artist Andre Solomko & Vinyl Jam balancing the evening with their electric and smooth jazz tunes. Noora Karppanen Band closed the evening with melodic jazz songs.
Our opener act was pleasant gypsy swing trio Mats from Joensuu. On a side stage we had some ”mental jazz” as the Tekramûtisch surprised their listeners with their naive but witty songs.
On blues we had the biggest name of finnish blues this year: Micke Björklöf & Blue Strip. They raised the roof up to the lightning sky! Jarkka Rissanen Tonal Box Trio was a pleasant representative of root music.
It was The Sinner’s Soul who’s energy that made people dance and ignore drizzling rain. On a side stage we had -a change in the program – a brilliant Frim-Fram duo.
The sixth Festival offered two jazz groups, provincial Extra Ordinary Quartet and North River Ensemble and two blues groups, Lena & The Slide Brothers and then just formed North Karelian Allstars.
During the changes audience of 350 people were entertained well by Huojuva Lato Duo. The night ended with jams inside.
Blueberry Hill Blues & Jazz Festival was organized the fifth time at the beginning of August and had the audience of 500 people. They enjoyed the legendary duo M.A. Numminen and Pedro Hietanen followed by the Lemmy Quartet, Taru Ratilainen & Color Me Blue, and finally guitar virtuoso Olli Soikkeli Gypsy Swing Unity. The night was ended by Jo’ Buddy & Down Home King III Duo’s spectacular performance.
The fourth Blueberry Hill Blues & Jazz Festival in 2012 took place a bit of earlier in August. The 250 people in the audience enjoyed Ari Lemmetyinen Duo, Spoonhill Duo, and The Soul Train featuring Sira Moksi, performing blues and jazz and soul.
We also had two magnificent blues duos, L.R. Phoenix with Brother Johnson and The Echo & Cane, and, in addition, the band called Halvat Pojat, whose six musicians come from all around the province.
Like the previous year, we organized a picnic afternoon with different activities for families with kids. Trio Tötterö played children’s songs and Impivaaralaiset recited poems for kids with their Los Haraccas show.
Blueberry Hill Blues & Jazz Festival was organized under the Blueberry Hill Festival Society for the first time and it was a two-day festival. It gathered the audience of 400 people altogether.
The first night we had the legends of Finnish Jazz: saxophonist Junnu Aaltonen and percussionist Reiska Laine. It was an exceptional chance to witness their Power Duo playing here in Ilomantsi. Splendid music!
Others were Jazzofrenix, Suisto, Sira Moksi and Spoonhill, the last being as a surprise performer. The night ended with Jam session inside.
The next, sunny day we had blues guitarist Erja Lyytinen and the Band performing, and people were just stunned about the performance.
The day started with Iko Jazz Band and Huojuva lato carried on. There were also Trio Tötterö playing kid’s music.
The second Blueberry Hill Blues & Jazz Tent in August 2010 was the first little bit more professionally organized festival and it gathered about 250 spectators in the two tents to enjoy surprisingly good performances.
They were Carelian Swing, Color Me Blue, Jazzofrenix, Iko Jazz Band, Wnaha Suola Duo and K Rissanen Combo.
A word about one of our artists: Gypsy swing guitarist Olli Soikkeli is now touring around the world as one of the most promising mentor for Django Reinhardt.
The festival began as the Blueberry Hill Jazz and Blues Tent in August 2009. There was just one tent for the two duos from Joensuu, Color Me Blue and Aamu, and two groups from Ilomantsi, Ari Lemmetyinen & Jarmo Bamberg and K Rissanen Combo. There were also some benches on the square for 80 people that came along although there was hardly any advertisement.