MARQUETTE, Mich.—The Upper Peninsula Folklife Festival at Northern Michigan University continues in December with a Beaumier Coffee House Series event featuring Kaivama. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, in Jamrich Hall room 105. It costs $5 for adults and $2 for children and students.
Kaivama is a Finnish-American duo comprised of Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman. Both grew up in Northwoods cultures of long winters, lakeside saunas, rugged terrain and solitude. The landscapes of their childhoods echo in the music of their new self-titled debut album, which features master fiddler Arto Järvelä of legendary Finnish folk group JPP on two tracks. Both Kaivama members were raised in Finnish-immigrant epicenters not far from the shores of Lake Superior. Pajunen’s hometown of Hibbing, Minn., and Rundman’s Ishpeming are famous for vast open-pit iron ore mines. The band’s name reflects this spirit of excavation. Kaivama is a Finnish word stemming from “kaivaa”: to delve or dig.
Alternately ancient and modern Finnish influences reveal themselves in Kaivama’s sound. Pajunen's unique fiddle playing is the common thread of the album, a meld of technique and nuance. Her classical training and flirtations with avant-garde string arrangements blend with her dedication to the Finnish pelimanni fiddle tradition. Rundman adeptly adds various instruments to each track, from rollicking acoustic guitar to a WWII-era, foot-pump harmonium to his Grandfather's tenor banjo—and some famously American textures thanks to a vintage Hammond organ and Wurlizter electric piano. Rundman mixes the harmonic structures of Nordic hymnody with a rough Americana sensibility and hints of '70s-era progressive rock.
The U.P. Folklife Festival is sponsored by the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at NMU.