On Friday the 4th and Saturday the 5th of August, the outdoor terrace area of RantaKerttu will be filled with the sounds of ‘roots, country, southern, blues and folk’, as the annual Country Club Festival rolls back around.
Now in its fourth year, the festival brings together Finnish musicians from different backgrounds. Jani Rämö, the multi-talented festival organiser, works hard to make the two day festival a fun and relaxed experience that draws in a variety of audiences. He explains that it’s not simply about slow acoustic folk singer-songwriters, but that the festival hopes to maintain an ‘edge’- something a bit more exciting or unusual.
While performing artists come from all over Finland, one of the main aims of the festival is to support local bands, and the line up always features some Turku natives. Jani himself is a member of long-running (self-described) ‘hobo country’ band Grasshammer Deluxe, and his bandmates support and assist him in the organisation of Country Club. Other permanent local fixtures in the lineup are folk-grunge four-piece Slomen Trickery and four-piece folk band Whale & the Village. This year, Grasshammer Deluxe and Slomen Trickery have teamed up and will perform as Slohammer Gramary. Besides the festival, Jani and Grasshammer Deluxe organise six smaller Country Club nights at Hunsvotti (downstairs from Rantakerttu) throughout the year, and Jani also uses these nights to select bands for the August festival.
In previous years, the lineup has also featured the likes of Dave Lindholm and Tuomari Nurmio, who both drew crowds. While this year’s lineup doesn’t feature any traditionally big Finnish names, Jani still has some tricks up his sleeve.
Rather, this year’s headliner is Mikko Joensuu, who is currently enjoying nation-wide popularity- he performed at both Sideways and Provinssi festivals last month, and is set to play at Flow Festival in August. The announcement that he will headline Country Club has already drawn quite a bit of anticipation and excitement, as Jani was hoping.
Having attended the festival for the past two years myself, I have to say that it has become a major highlight on my calendar. The two day event is free entry and a great way to enjoy the Finnish summer. Because what is better than good beer, good friends and great music?