Ameriikan Poijat toot their own horn
By: Dan Malkovich, Pine Journal
On Sunday, Jan. 8, attendees to the second performance of the Arnie Luukonen Memorial Concerts at Cloquet Presbyterian Church were treated to the unique and beautiful music of the “Ameriikan Poijat” brass band.
American Poijat translates to “Boys of America,” a name which is not
entirely correct because the seven-member band includes one female.
Call them what you will, they provided a memorable afternoon. Through narrative, photo projections and music they presented the experiences of Finnish immigrants to the Northland.
The tradition of the brass septet, called a torviseitsikko, began in the late 19th Century in Finland, when soldiers who had played in military bands brought their instruments and music home with them. They formed brass bands in their own communities and played at concerts, weddings, funerals and especially at dances, where polkas, waltzes, and schottishes were standard fare. Naturally, those Finnish immigrants brought their music with them to America.
By the end of the 1930s, musical tastes had changed and the age of the torviseitsikko was over. Since 1985, however, interest in the brass septet has grown, primarily in Finland, but also in the United States through the efforts of groups like Ameriikan Poijat.