NASELLE - Finns and friends will put on their dancing shoes on Thursday, March 16, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Naselle Commons with a rousing celebration of St. Urho's Day. Open mike participants are invited to compete in telling the best Finnish story or joke (limit two minutes). Poems and songs are also acceptable.
St. Urho is the patron saint who surfaced some decades back in the U.S. and is known for driving the grasshoppers out of the vineyards of Finland. Reports claim he then traveled to Ireland and helped St. Patrick drive the snakes off the island.
This third Finn-Am Jam event is sponsored by the Finnish-American Folk Festival of Naselle and funded in part by the Washington State Arts Commission. It is held in preparation for the upcoming FinnFest USA '06 which will be held in Naselle and Astoria from July 26 to July 30.
Because of stereotypes of Finns, some may claim that "humor" and "Finnish jokes" and "open Mic" are oxymorons for Finnish-American people. But as Conan O'Brien found recently in his campaign to help Finland's president be re-elected, Finns do have a great wry sense of humor. Pastor Nina Tetri Mustonen of Portland will teach dance lessons from 6:20 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Two bands will be playing for the evening program - the Jeannie and Vern Lindquist band of Tacoma and the Folk Voice Duo of Seattle. Both are husband and wife teams who have played in the Nordic dance circuits for years in the Seattle/ Tacoma area. Vern and Jeanie Lindquist play many Finnish tunes as well as songs from Vern's Swede-Finn heritage. They look forward to seeing many of their relatives in the greater Astoria area, including Naselle. Birgit and Philip Ages form the Folk Voice Duo. Philip plays accordion, recorder, mandolin and guitar; Birgit plays accordion. By heritage Philip is Dutch and Birgit German, but they both really like Finnish people and find Finnish and Danish music the most attractive of ethnic music. Philip played for the Katrilli Dancers of Los Angeles and they both played for the La Pe Ke Ko dancers of Seattle and performed in Finland with them. On Memorial Day weekend, Birgit is in charge of both the accordion and German stages at Northwest Folklife Festival. A jolly couple, they are enthusiastic promoters of Finnish music and culture, and help performers traveling to the Northwest from Finland.
Lyle Haataja will the Master or Ceremonies the evening. Invited judges with appropriate audience participation will judge the Finnish joke/story contest.
The next Finn-Am Jam will feature kantele music and will be held April 18, at 7 p.m. at the Naselle Commons. Private lessons with Master kantele player Wilho Saari at the Saari studio will be available in April.