MARQUETTE, Mich.—Storyteller, musician and musicologist Oren Tikkanen of Calumet will receive the 2012 Upper Peninsula Folklife Award. He will be honored before a 7:30 p.m. performance by storyteller and NPR commentator Kevin Kling on Friday, Feb. 24, in Northern Michigan University’s Forest Roberts Theatre.
The award has been presented annually since 2009 by NMU’s Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center to individuals who have made significant contributions to the preservation, promotion and performance of the Upper Peninsula’s traditional arts.
Tikkanen is a fixture at most Finnish cultural and musical events throughout the Upper Peninsula. He has played music with artists from around the world and currently is a member of ensembles including the PasiCats, Wil Kilpela and Friends, the Thimbleberry Band and Les Ross Sr. and the Finnish-American All-Stars.
Besides his musical pursuits, Tikkanen is a legendary teller of jokes and anecdotes, well-versed in the canon of immigrant humor traditions of the Copper Country. Along with his wife, the late Toni Tikkanen, he collected the songs of the Finnish Americans, in particular artist Viola Turpeinen, and rereleased them on his Thimbleberry Records label. The effort earned the couple the Michigan Heritage Award from the Michigan State University Museum in 2001. Tikkanen also was named the “Hankooki Heikki,” or grand marshal, of the 2008 Heikenpaiva celebration in Hancock.
Previous U.P. Folklife Award recipients were musicians John Perona and Les Ross Sr. For more information, visit www.nmu.edu/beaumieror call 906-227-1219.