Joni Tiala, left, and Pia Leinonen of Vellamo. Courtesy photo
And now for something completely different: Finnish folklore and music at the Mesa Public Library. Mesa Public Library will feature the music and story-telling of Vellamo at 6:30 p.m.Thursday, Feb. 25.
Vellamo is led by the performing and songwriting team of Pia Leinonen and Joni Tiala. Their music is characterized by haunting melodies, Leinonen’s ethereal lead vocals and Joni’s virtuosic guitar stylings. In Finnish mythology, Vellamo is the goddess of the sea. Based in Kokkola, on the western coast of Finland, Vellamo combines the rich tradition of Finnish folksong with an appealing “retro” sensibility, creating a modern folk music experience.
Leinonen, originally from the arctic region of Lapland, is Vellamo’s lead singer. Her exquisite voice combines her love and vast knowledge of Finnish folk music with the western singer–songwriter tradition in a unique and beautiful way. Her moving and evocative expression has been compared to other story-centric performers such as Joan Baez and Marlene Dietrich.
Tiala, originally from the Finnish port of Kokkola, began playing guitar at the age of 11. His eclectic musical background includes writing and performing for theater, progressive and alternative rock and Finnish and western folk. In addition to his work in Vellamo, Tiala is an accomplished theater and session musician, and is founding member of the renowned Finnish progressive rock band, Moonwagon.
In addition to shows in their homeland, Vellamo spends half of each year touring abroad; their adventures have led them throughout the United States, Europe and New Zealand.
Vellamo released their first album in early 2013. The tone of the album is clear and bright, respectful of tradition yet sounding fresh. It features both original and traditional songs. The second album Trad came out in June 2014 and was recorded with a full band featuring bass player Janne Ylikorpi and Timo Tikkamäki. This folk-rock gem contains beautiful arrangements of traditional songs from the Finnish and Scandinavian traditions. Vellamo’s third album “Koskenkylä” is named after songwriter Leinonen’s home village. This versatile modern Nordic folk album features all original material written both in English and Finnish.
Vellamo’s appearance at the Library takes the place of February’s normally-scheduled Authors Speak presentation. The program is supported by Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries. For more information about all Library events, go to www.losalamosnm.us/library/Pages/Events