Norsk Hstfest reached out to Finland this year to bring a band to its Copenhagen stage whose music is familiar yet different.
Frigg, a Finnish fiddle band named for a Norse goddess, takes traditional folk music and puts its own unique stamp and styling on it. Band members had their audience smiling and nodding at a Thursday performance that featured the sweet sound of slow, soulful tunes and the energy of fast and faster, furious fiddling.
Alina Jarvela, who plays with a brother and cousin in the seven-piece band, said Frigg organized about 11 years ago with members from both Finland and Norway. Her father, a music teacher, had a musician friend in Norway with children close in age to his own children. The kids would make music together and eventually formed a band, she said.
Members of Frigg rehearsing Thursday are, from left, are Esko Jarvela, Tero Hyvaluoma, Tuomas Logren, Tommi Asplund, Alina Jarvela, Antti Jarvela and Petri Prauda.
"The Norwegians are not with us any more. They are very busy and it's quite hard to have a band that lives in two different countries," Jarvela said. "If we need them, they will come and play with us."
The band is all-Finnish now. In addition to Jarvela, who plays violin, other members are Tommi Asplund, Tero Hyvaluoma and Esko Jarvela, who also play violin; Petri Prauda on mandolin, Antti Jarvela on bass; and Tuomas Logren on guitar.
They all are well studied in music, and much of their work is original compositions based on their musical interests, which are diverse. Their concerts at Hstfest include Norwegian and Spanish songs as well as traditional Finnish and other songs that they have written.
They expose themselves to everything from classical to hard rock. Prauda had started as a rock musician before joining Frigg.
"We are bringing all these influences to our music," Antti Jarvela said, adding that the result is a unique sound. "The style we play is pretty much our own. No one else in the world plays that way basically."
Their music idols include Swedish and Finnish bands whose folk music is more traditional. Antti Jarvela described them as more serious in their style than Frigg, though.
"We are trying to bring the joy of the music," he said. "It's happy music so why not show it?"
Frigg is on its seventh tour in the United States. They are enjoying their four straight days at Norsk Hstfest because they are getting in some practice time between shows. Even though they all live in Finland, getting together isn't always easy so practice sessions can be hard to come by.
The band has produced six albums and estimates it has performed about 350 concerts over the years. Performing at international festivals but rarely at Scandinavian ones, Frigg members find Hstfest interesting.
Alina Jarvela said Hstfest presents a different side of Scandinavia than exists today.
"We kind of feel like time has slumped here so it's very interesting. But some things are the same still," she said, noting that's especially true of the food.
As youthful entertainers, Frigg members are keeping Finnish tradition alive in their own way. Antti Jarvela said Finns tend to be modest and sometimes need a little help to remember their identity. Frigg is more than happy to provide a few reminders.
Frigg performs each day at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in Copenhagen Hall.