The members of Külapoisid singing at the PõhjaAmeerika eestlaste rahvapidu/laulupidu in 1979. Photo: Hannes Oja
The Toronto Eesti Maja (Estonian House) is due to close soon. However, there is still one more opportunity for the Estonian community of Canada and its friends to spend time in the building, relive memories, and have a great time together while celebrating this special place. If you’re not sure what this party, the “Lääst Blääst”, is going to be like, read Estonian Life for details on the night’s activities, throwback live music, and where you can buy tickets!
Friday, 02 September 2022 19:00
Estonian Life No. 35 2022 - Vincent Teetsov
#community #estonian #party #toronto #event #memories
62 years ago, the Toronto Eesti Maja (Estonian House) opened its doors to the surrounding Estonian community. Very soon, however, one will no longer be able to frequent its welcoming spaces as it goes into redevelopment and the Estonian community builds a brand new home.
To commemorate all the wonderful things that the Estonian House has represented in the last six decades, the Estonian Arts Centre is hosting one final party on site (958 Broadview Ave). You may have heard its name mentioned already—the “Lääst Blääst.”
On Saturday October 1st, starting at 6:00 PM (doors open at 5:30), all are invited to visit one more time, together with friends and family. Leading the tribute is a packed lineup of Estonian performers who have provided the soundtrack to community moments over the years.
Fittingly, this includes Toronto Eesti Meeskoor
(Toronto Estonian Male Choir), who performed at the opening of the Estonian House and rehearsed here from the house's genesis. They have been a constant presence when events called for the resounding songs of Estonian men.
Coming temporarily out of “retirement,” so to speak, to perform will be Leiki and Keila Kopvillem
. Having played live with their father, Peeter Kopvillem, and knowing that he would have played at this last bash, they decided to step in and sing his compositions. Peeter's tunes range from sweet ballads (one being “Aeg”) to foot-stomping rock numbers (such as “Vabasta mind Miki”). Some of these made their way into an ERR-broadcasted performance of his at the Estonian House in 2007. Kalevipogues
will hammer things home with a blend of classic tunes to get people moving, such as The Rolling Stones' “Jumpin' Jack Flash.” According to bassist Indrek Kanne, the band formed in 1990 when members of the group Tarkus “wanted to continue performing for Baltic Youth dances,” and after Juulia and Juhan Lindau “rejuvenated the band.” Past concerts of theirs include TERR Kungla's “Baltic Bash” at the Estonian House in 1994 and a summer appearance at ESTO 1992 in New York City.
Among Kanne's fondest memories of the Estonian House is “having a 'Rolling Estonian' at Tallinn Festival and dancing to KAJA and Orpheus until [Mr.] Naaber shook his keys and turned off the light to end the night.” Indeed, vodka, cranberry juice, KAJA, and Orpheus
will all be part of the partyscape on October 1st. Orpheus rocked the Estonian House for many years and though Mehis Vahtra, one of the founding members, recently passed away, his keyboard will be on stage at Lääst Blääst when remaining band members re-form to rock again. Band member Aarne Tork remembers adding in ZZ Top’s song “Tush” into one community concert set, to counteract the “'fogey music'... waltzes, foxtrots, tangos.” After this, he describes how “an adult approached us from the floor and flung two empty beer bottles at us!... We stopped the set, had a quick meeting and restarted the set with Mehis wearing a motorcycle helmet 'for protection.' That was epic.”
Though KAJA's co-founder and legendary accordionist Allan Liik is no longer with us, his brother Mihkel Liik is carrying the music forward with KAJA Reloaded
. First founded “for the purposes of performing at the 1972 Esto World Scout Camp as well as the first Estonian World Festival in 1972...” KAJA went on to play at four more of these festivals and beyond, averaging over 50 gigs per year across Estonian functions. Many of them took place at the Estonian House. And if you were Estonian and got married in Toronto the 70s or 80s, there's a good chance they were your wedding band.
One of Liik's funniest Estonian House memories is from the late 70s, when his brother “without giving it much thought, invited the entire packed hall to our very modest family home for an afterparty, to which hundreds of well-lubricated revellers took up the offer!” Audiences can anticipate waltzes, polkas, and dance tunes from their heyday. Liik says, “As KAJA always strived to do – [there's] a little something for everyone.”
Having performed countless times at the Estonian House and regularly bringing Estonian music to the public, Andres Raudsepp
will perform together with his daughter Järvi and son Lauri.
Audiences can enjoy music by men's pop ensemble Külapoisid
, Estonia Koor
, and members of the Lindau family who will be joining groups on stage. Other surprises and collaborations are in store as well.
In between all of this, you can tour the building once more, record your memories in a video booth, enjoy the culinary classics of caterer Ülle Veltmann, and watch as TERR Kungla glides through traditional Estonian folk dances.
If you've seen these performers in the past, then this will be a night that takes you back to your youth. If you've never heard of any of the aforementioned names, then make your way over to witness a slice of life from the past and party like your parents or grandparents did.Tickets ($25 each) are on sale from www.estoniancentre.ca/post/lääst-blääst
Written by Vincent Teetsov
Kalevipogues live at Eesti Maja
Leiki (centre) and Keila Kopvillem (right) performing with their father Peeter at the NUKU Theatre in Tallinn in 2008.
Toronto Eesti Meeskoor conducted by Charles Kipper in the Estonian House in 2017. Photo: Kati Kiilaspea
Orpheus from the program of the ESTO 1984 festival in Toronto.
KAJA on the occasion of the 20th anniversary reunion in January 1992
Järvi and Andres Raudsepp performing together in 2009. Photo: Eerik Purje
Estonia Koor performing in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve in 1985
The Lindau sisters performing in 2016
TERR Kungla dancing. Photo: Peeter Põldre