Nicknamed as “the rhythm tank”, Mama Longhorn plays their own version of organic rhythm music fusion based on the traditions from afrobeat to funk and flavoured with several different influences. Besides the famous annual jazz festival, their hometown Pori is well known from the numerous progressive and experimental rock acts, which can be also heard in their original and eclectic production never afraid to break the traditional boundaries. In their music, catchy melodies and afro rhythms meet improvisational approach and psychedelic, occasionally even melancholic tones. The Nordic mysticism is present in the singer Eeva Poijärvi’s voice as well as in the soundscapes of their music, which makes the band so different from any other act. The Arts Council of Satakunta region awarded Mama Longhorn with their annual Art Prize in 2015.
Founded in the beginning of the 2010’s, Mama Longhorn has extended their lineup into a 10-piece orchestra. They have released three critically acclaimed albums, well received also by fans. Thematically the songs cover a wide range of topics without avoiding to get into darker themes neither. On their year 2021 album Let It Run, the band delt for example with the climate change (on song “Island After Island”) and the challenges involved in making it as an actor (“Barry Primus”). Musically speaking, they have never followed the easiest and most expected path, combining for example clarinet and ambient soundscapes together with the elements of African polyrhythmics. Mama Longhorn is about to release their fourth album Extinct But Still Alive in January 2024.
The key members of Mama Longhorn during the years have been producer and keyboard and percussionist Kai Johansson (Salaneuvosto) and bassist Mikko Elo (Kuusumun Profeetta, Ektroverde, Vahvistusharha). However, the band is well known of the fact that all the members participate actively in composing and making the arrangements for their songs.
Besides the aforementioned gentlemen, the lineup consists of guitarists Tuomas Grönlund (Teemu Elon Puhuvat Eläimet) and Valtteri Mäkitalo as well as clarinetist Saija Santavirta, saxophonist Jukka Kettula and trumpetist Juho Nordman. Janne Huhtala handles the drums, while the percussionist of the band is Tatu Tyykilä. In the beginning of their career and on their first album Enter The Rhythm Tank, Guinea-born Faouzi Fawaz was also one of the main vocalists as well as playing percussions. Rapper and singer Jesse Markin (also known by his artist name Thelo Ekow), who also featured on their second album Age Two, has been occasionally present on stage on Mama Longhorn’s live sets as well.
Text: Joonas Kervinen / Funky Finland
Photos: Janne Alhonpää