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Musical Roots

Kaivama digs into Finnish music

July 2, 2011
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Jonathan Rundman grew up in Ishpeming and Sara Pajunen in Hibbing, Minn., but several things brought them together to form a musical duo.

"Both of us grew up in Finnish communities centered in iron mining towns," Rundman said in an email interview with the pair. "Sara is from Hibbing, I'm from Ishpeming. We named our band Kaivama based on the Finnish word 'kaviaa' which means to dig, referring of course to our families' iron mining histories, as well as to the fact we're digging into our ancestral and musical heritage."

The Minneapolis-based duo, which just celebrated its first year as a band in June, has released its debut CD. Local residents will have the chance to dig Kaivama's music at several appearances in the Upper Peninsula. One that took place Friday in Ishpeming, but the others start this coming Thursday in L'Anse.

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"Sara and I met a year and a half ago when we were both invited to perform at the annual Twin Cities area concert of Finnish Christmas music," Rundman said. "We each played solo, then we both sat in with the house band supporting a group of musicians from Finland.

"Sara's training is in classical violin performance, and I had been touring around as a rock musician, but when we met we realized that our opposite musical backgrounds complemented each other well when playing Finnish folk music," he said.

Pajunen has degrees from the University of Minnesota and the Helsinki Conservatory in Finland, while Rundman has toured as a troubador-songwriter throughout the United States.

Fact Box

Digging the tour

Kaivama U.P. Tour Dates

THURSDAY, JULY 7, 7 p.m.


L'Anse Bandshell

Waterfront Park


FRIDAY, JULY 8, 7 p.m.

Donations accepted for Vista Theater

Vista Theater

218 Iron St.


SATURDAY, JULY 9, 6 p.m.


Finnish Hall on Sugar Island

6495 S. Homestead Road

Sault Ste. Marie

On the Web:

The "make-your-acquaintance" process for the diverse pair was sped up a bit.

"We were just getting to know each other when we were invited to perform at FinnFest in South Dakota," Rundman said. "We didn't even have a band name at that point. So we quickly worked out some tunes to play together, named the band Kaivama, and began performing. That was only a year ago."

What can concert attendees expect at a Kaivama show?

"We perform a lot of traditional Finnish fiddle tunes from the pelimanni tradition, but in our own way," Pajunen said. "We also perform some newer nordic folk tunes written by others, and some of our own tunes inspired by the tradition and our collective musical pasts."

The musical collaboration has been something of a surprise to family and fans of the individual musicians.

"A lot of our relatives and friends are just finding out about the band because we're so new," Rundman said. "When our family members hear our album or see us perform, I think they've very surprised because the music is so different from what each of us was doing before on our own.

"But the connection to the Finnish heritage is very strong... We can tell from the stage that, for many people in the audience, these melodies and attitudes evoke deep memories."

Rundman's happy to visit home, but how about Minnesotan Pajunen: How does she feel about visiting the Upper Peninsula?

"I've heard so much about the Upper Peninsula," she said. "I am anxious to experience the culture, the nature and the Finnish heritage."

The duo will keep busy.

"In addition to our July tour of the U.P., we'll be playing FinnFest 2011 in San Diego in August," Rundman said. "And we'll be back in the U.P. on Aug. 26 to play at the Porcupine Mountain Music Festival in Ontonagon."

The duo's self-titled debut album will be available for sale at their U.P. tour stops and at Jim's Music in Marquette. It can also be downloaded from iTunes store or ordered via the band's website, kaivama. com.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is



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