Northwest Pelimannit®

Seattle's own Finnish Folkmusic Band

You may have seen us around the Seattle area for years; we are active members of the Finnish American community here in Seattle and have been involved with many different Finnish organizations.

We have been playing music together since 1987. Weve played for such events as the FFSC Annual Meeting, Independence Day Dinners, Kalevala, and at the Finnish booth at WorldFest and for Finnish folkdance groups at Seattle's FolkLife. We took a short break from playing in 1994 after we played for one of Seattle's folkdance groups on a tour of three folk festivals in Europe. It was a strenuous year with practices 3-4 times a week capped off with three weeks of festivals. However, within 6 mos we were back together again and reassessing and reaffirming our devotion to the Finnish music.

 (L-R: Shirley Makela on violin, Gay Nixon on accordion, Beth Henry on violin)

We are fanatics about Finnish music - not just folkmusic & music for folkdancing, but popular dance music. We play for the joy of it., we were all "bitten by the bug" years ago and have never recovered. We are seriously dedicated to the art and craft of Finnish folkmusic.

Northwest Pelimannit® is available for dances, parties, or music for special occasions. We play waltzes, jenkkas, humppas, hambos, polkkas, tangos & marzurkkas. Call Gay at (425) 743-5450 for information on rates and times available for engagements. Or send e-mail to: or

Starting in 1998 - A beginners group! To join call or send us e-mail.

Synthesized music can never reproduce the beauty of live music but these midi files will give you some idea of the music. NWP's arrangement of Harrin jenkka is playing in the background when you open the page.

Jenkka (Schottish): Kellarin Kautta (arr. S. Makela - Northwest Pelimannit - 1996)

Waltz: Kultainen nouruus (arr. S. Makela - Northwest Pelimannit - 1997)

Masurkka: Kallen kaunein masurkka (arr. S. Makela - Northwest Pelimannit - 1997)

Jenkka: Isä Matin jenkka (arr. S. Makela - Northwest Pelimannit - . 1995)

   Waltz: Sunin Akin valssi (arr. S. Makela - Northwest Pelimannit -. 1997)


Northwest Pelimannit - October 18, 1997 Finn Hall Dance, Seattle - WA


NWP members have studied both here in Seattle, in Vancouver, B.C. and in Finland with musicians Markku Lepistö, Pekka Pentikäinen, Järvelän Pikkupelimannit in various workshops and with Juhani Nareharju, department head of folkmusic at Sibelius Academy . Markku and Pekka formerly played with the folk group, Pirnales, made up of students from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Markku is a member of the group, Progmatics and Pekka is a member of the group, Mr. Malaska Gay has also been to Finland several times to study with Petri Ikkelä and others both for private lessons and at the folkmusic workshops in Orivesi during the past years. Shirley Makela has studied in with Maarit Kyllönen of Katrilli Combo and the Tapiola Sinfonietta.


 NWP played recently at Nordlek in Vaasa with the Turun kansanmusiikki ystävät, and also informally in Kaustinen with members of Konsta Jylhäs band. That was a special treat. NWP is always trading music notes and arrangements with musician friends in Finland and continuing to forge new friendships with other Finnish folkmusic enthusiasts in Finland and at home in the USA.



Short List - Performances & Activities '96-'98


The United Finnish Kalevala Brothers & Sisters Lodge #11


FFSC Itsenäisyysjuhla, Seattle


Dance at the Finn Hall, Seattle


Nordlek, Vaasa, Finland


Kaustinen, Finland


Ethnic Heritage Council 16th Annual Worldfest, Crossroads Mall, Bellevue


German Retirement Home - Bothell


Kalevala Festival, Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle


Espoo, Finland private lessons with Maarit Kyllönen


Suomen Kansanmusiikkiliitto , Oriveden Opisto, Orivesi, Finland


FFSC Itsenäisyysjuhla, Seattle


Finnish Community Bazaar, Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle


Art doesn't survive in a vacuum; new ideas and communication feed it. Northwest Pelimannit seeks to continue the transfer of ideas and art of Finnish folk music and the community support that feeds it. Our goal is to make the beautiful Finnish music as well known as Irish music.

(Think it can happen? We do.)

Personal Histories

"We come by our compulsions honestly"

Shirley Makela, violinist, writes the arrangements for the group. She was "bitten" first when dancing with the Seattle Finnish folkdance group, Tanhuajat. Her father, Onni Makela, was the accordionist for the group in the 1980s. Although she had heard the Finnish music all her life, she had never quite taken to it, because it was after all, "Dads music." FinnFest USA 87 changed all that. After hearing the incredible musicians from Finland she returned to Seattle and within a month purchased her first violin. Although she had played other instruments before, mainly classical guitar, Finnish music played on the violin with accordion accompaniment took her heart and imagination. Since then she has played little else. Finnish folk musicians run in Shirleys family. Her father and his brothers had a Finnish dance band in the 1940s and early 1950s in the Duluth area. Her father, the youngest brother, played with them from the time he was big enough to hoist a heavy accordion. The Makela house has always been filled with music. Recently it was discovered that we have other Finnish folk musicians in the family. We are related to Al Reko, an accordionist, in Minnesota - Small world!

Gay Nixon, NWP's accordion player, also plays several other instruments. Although she suspects there might be a Finn in her ancestry, she is still looking. She fell in love with the Finnish music as a result of having a Finnish foreign exchange student in one of her high school math classes in 1984-85. Music is an integral part of Gays family as well. Her father was an accomplished musician, as is Gay. Her sister is a professional musician who teachers woodwinds and piano in Edmonds. I cant tell you how often Gay has been heard to say, "Ive played everything, but I never knew what I was missing until I heard this music!" Gay has trouble deciding which she likes most: dancing or playing.

Beth Matheny, Gays younger daughter, joined NWP in 1989. She found the music infectious. She continues the musical tradition of her family. She studied violin throughout her school years and picked it up again to join the group. Beth especially enjoys playing the harmony parts for the group.

  After ten years we are still as enthusiastic and as driven to play Finnish music as we were at the start, perhaps more so now. Saturday night comes, and we play music no matter what.

A Few Of Our Favorite Web Sites: (Radio YLE Finland) (Orivesi) (Katrilli Combo - Espoo)

 http://www/ ( The Northwest Finn Site!)