The 2007 invasion of bands from the myth-shrouded realm on the northern rim of Europe promises yet another ear-opening romp among sounds as exotic and dazzling as the northern lights. But this year's festival kicks off Friday with one of our own, Minnesotan Ruth MacKenzie. Her stunning, otherworldly vocals seared her interpretation of the Finnish epic Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden into our collective consciousness a decade ago. She'll revisit the wild realm of Kalevala with a local all-star band that will include Marc Anderson, Dick Hensold, Dick Freymuth, Peter Ostroushko, Jim Anton, and vocalists Petra Zilliacus and Natalie Nowitsky. Saturday's events get underway in the afternoon with [ni:d], a Swedish trio that tackles regional folk music with an unusual lineup of sax, fiddle, and percussion. In the evening, Sinikka Langeland will lead her trio through songs often addressing nature in a chamber-folk context. Her dramatic singing has elements of art song while the music flirts with jazz and classical, with Langeland weighing in on kantele (a Finnish harp). Finland's JPP will follow with its striking, quadruple-violin, wall-of-fiddles sound, which is rife with rich, elegant folk melodies. The quirkiest band on the schedule, Finland's Lännen-Jukka String Band, starts things off Sunday with its curious mix of blues, Appalachian folk, and Finnish roots, with J. Karjalainen plucking his banjo and singing in Finnish with a raspy blues voice. Later, Den Fule, a Swedish quintet consisting of roots music vets, will tackle its fierce mix of rock and jazz, prominently featuring chortling dual saxes and electric guitar. Closing things out will be old favorite Harv, a Swedish quartet of young firebrands who play traditional material with the bristling energy of a rock outfit, led by the dazzling double fiddle attack of Magnus Stinnerbom and Daniel Sandén-Warg.
Fri., Sept. 28, 8 p.m.; Sept. 29-30, 2 p.m., 2007