Finnish guitarist Erja Lyytinen arrives in Ottawa for first concert, fresh off jamming with Santana

Erja Lyytinen

9 p.m. Aug. 16, Rainbow Bistro, 76 Murray St. Doors open at eight p.m.

Tickets: $20 advance, obtainable at $25 on the door.

Finnish guitarist Erja Lyytinen has a weak spot for results pedals, these digital gadgets that bend, buckle, twist and in any other case contort the sound of an electrical guitar. 

Her pedal board is provided with 20 of the devices, a load that provides about 25 kilograms to her baggage allowance, however she wouldn’t have it every other means. 

“I loooove pedals,” she confessed in an interview this week. “I just like the sounds. I like utilizing the whammy pedal and going loopy and exploring and doing a little bit of spaced-out Jimi Hendrix. I additionally like enjoying slide and including some wah and a few delay and a few modulation impact. 

“So yeah. I’m not a standard blues participant however all the things is serving the music.”

Finnish guitarist, Erja Lyytinen.

Dirk Eidner.

The 43-year-old musician, who’s in Ottawa this week for the first time to play a gig on the Rainbow Bistro, began her music training as a conservatory-trained violinist destined for orchestra life. But with mother and father who had been in a band (dad on guitar and mother on bass), there have been loads of different influences at dwelling. She grew up in Kuopio, a small city in jap Finland, a rustic with a surprisingly vibrant blues scene. 

“Classical music didn’t curiosity me as a young person,” Lyytinen mentioned. “There’s a sure level whenever you develop up that you simply need to do one thing totally different. Rock music me. I preferred guitar as a result of I may solo with it, or play rhythm and sing on high of that. I all the time preferred the large concord sound.” 

Her eyes had been opened to the chances of early American music whereas watching music movies on VHS on the conservatory. “I saw Ray Charles doing Georgia on my Mind and my skin went to goosebumps,” she remembers. “‘Oh my God, it’s wonderful,’ I assumed, and I wished to do the identical factor. 

“Little by little, I acquired deeper into the blues and was listening to Koko Taylor and Bonnie Raitt and naturally some soul music — Aretha Franklin — after which the guitar stuff began to kick in.” 

At 15, she joined her mother and father’ band, and discovered a repertoire of songs that ranged from Finnish dance music to traditional rock and pop songs, together with a few Santana tunes. Around the identical time, she was additionally singing in a Blues Brothers tribute band at college.

She continued to check music, too, attending music faculties in Denmark, Los Angeles and Sweden, lastly incomes a grasp’s diploma in Helsinki, a distinction that prompts her band members to tease her for being some of the educated blues musicians in Europe. 

Lyytinen launched three albums on the Finnish roots label, Bluelight Records, in the early 2000s earlier than signing to Germany’s Ruf Records after which launching her personal label, Tuohi Records. Her newest recording, Another World, got here out this 12 months, that includes a full slate of authentic songs and visitor spots by slide grasp Sonny Landreth and former Michael Jackson guitarist Jennifer Batten.

The album marks a brand new chapter for the now-separated mother of five-year-old twin boys.

“It’s an empowering album,” Lyytinen explains. “The earlier album was referred to as Stolen Heart, and it was written in the course of the breakup time. There had been darkish instances and unhappiness. But now it’s like I can see the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel. Emotionally, it’s like looking out for one thing new and also you end up, and also you’re open to new issues and comfortable about what you’ve gotten.”

There’s additionally progress in the music, with components of jazz and progressive rock enhancing her distinctive, blues-based fashion. 

“I really feel that musically I’ve additionally taken steps in the direction of one thing new and that’s very fascinating. As a guitar participant, I’m not limiting myself. I simply do what I hear and it feels very satisfying,” she mentioned. 

Lyytinen, who was declared 2017’s finest guitarist in the European Blues Awards, has had some inspiring moments in current years, together with a visitor look with Carlos Santana in entrance of 20,00zero individuals in Helsinki final summer time, the place she held her personal towards the grasp of psychedelic Latin-tinged rock. Video from that day reveals her grinning from ear to ear as she trades licks with Carlos. 

“It was wonderful. What an expertise,” she gushes. “Sometimes I think, ‘Did this really happen?’ but it’s online on YouTube. I can go and have a look anytime.” 

She’s additionally shared levels with blues greats like Joe Bonamassa and John Mayall, and this 12 months opened for famous person crooner Tom Jones. Another spotlight of 2019 was enjoying alongside Elwood Blues (a.ok.a. Dan Aykroyd) in the course of the Downchild Blues Band’s 50th anniversary gig in Toronto in June.

Recalling her high-school band expertise enjoying Blues Brothers songs, she describes it as a “full-circle moment” that provides her hope for an equally lengthy profession. 

“I hope I’m in a position to do good concert events for the following 40 years,” she says. “That’s what I’m aiming for.” 

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