50 years is 50 years, even for an energy pack like KNUCKLEBONE OSCAR. He might not be a familiar sight on the big stages, but Oskari Martimo has racked up a long and prestigious career where all the action is: at the grassroot level. His career spans across three decades, eight records, and too many shows to keep track of. When it was time for his official birthday celebration on November 25th, 2022, at On the Rocks in Helsinki, we set out to see what the man famous for his live energy had in reserve for the audience. Opening the night was AT’S ROOTS & RAMBLIN’, keeping the night comfortably in the rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and R&B scene.
AT’S ROOTS & RAMBLIN’ is a classic trio: drums, bass, and vocalist/guitarist. Arttur “AT” Teränen leads the band on vocals and guitar, while Oliver Westerberg and Mikko Korpi provide the base on drums and bass. On the Rocks was starting to fill up when the band took the stage. Their well-founded and steady yet slightly unrisky approach had some heads nodding, although a large portion of an almost full On the Rocks had clearly timed their arrival closer to the start of KNUCKLEBONE OSCARS show. The band did a good job of warming up the audience, with bassist Mikko Korpi being the center of their live energy, while vocalist Arttur Teränen had a more cool, laidback appearance. At the end of the show, there was some applause demanding for an encore, which is always a good achievement for a warm-up act.
Everything was aimed at the main course, though. KNUCKLEBONE OSCAR took the stage with all guns blazing from the start, and there was to be little rest before the end an 1.5 hour set. The show opened with Oskari Martimo declaring his authority with “King of Helsinki,” which is somewhat of a band anthem for them, and the crowd gave their appreciation to the main figure of the night. After that it was as crazy as KNUCKLEBONE OSCAR shows get: surges to the middle of the crowd, climbing on handrails, playing guitar while riding on another person’s shoulders, and of course, at the end of it all – smashing a guitar to pieces against the stage.
Martimo’s long career and place as a key figure in the roots of the Finnish music scene was underlined by visits from some of his collaborators and friends, all household names as well. On their respectful turns Tuure Kilpeläinen, Eero Raittinen, Tuomari Nurmio, and Marjo Leinonen visited the stage, all bringing their own voice to the mix. Particularly heart warming was the 2-song visit by the grandfather of Finnish music, Eero Raittinen. Even though the senior artist could only perform standing up for short whiles, the warm feeling between the artists on stage was very visible.
There were a few more treats left at the end of the show. First, Martimo brought to the stage the youngest performer of the night: his 11-year old son, Amos. The young vocalist joined his father to perform the New Orleans classic, “Iko Iko,” a nice wink to the mix of generations on stage. The song originates from the 1950s but was recently reinvented as a TikTok challenge meme.
All-in-all, the show was what one could expect from KNUCKLEBONE OSCAR – hot, intensive and energetic. The way 50-year-old Martimo takes his audience and is present during his shows is something many younger artists should study.
Take a look at photos from the show here…
AT’S ROOTS & RAMBLIN’
Photos by Arto Alho