Beer for music, music for beer

  • 2006-07-05
  • By Joel Alas

BEER, BEER, AND MORE BEER: After 13 years, Ollesummer has become a huge event for Tallinnites who like their beer cold, their parties large and their music varied.

TALLINN - It began as a boutique beer trade show and has blossomed into one of the biggest festivals in the Baltics. But for the promoters of Ollesummer, or Beer Summer, big enough is not good enough. Each July Ollesummer takes over the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, creating a virtual village of beer drinkers with a resident population of thousands.

Of course, the festival isn't all about the diverse range of beers on offer. Almost 100 bands will perform in what has become a huge musical event. Revelers travel from across the Baltics and Scandinavia for the show.

And for the first time in its 13-year history, in a bid to attract an audience that usually stays away, Ollesummer will feature a world music stage. In the past, the crowds have been small, either because the festival was too big or the music was too abstract.
"We're going to add a whole new program and a new stage," says Raimond Kaljulaid, spokesman for Ollesummer's promoter.
"We've tried to find interesting alternative ethno artists from all over the world and bring them to Estonia for five days. The program is going to start with smaller groups doing dance and musical shows. And the evenings will end with the headliners of the world music stage."

The concept seems to have worked. The hard-to-please indie music scene is abuzz with talk of 5'Nizza, a Ukrainian folk duo.
"I wouldn't normally go to Ollesummer because it's full of beer drinkers and bad music, but I am going this year because I want to see 5'Nizza," one world music aficionado said.
Kaljulaid agrees that the reputation of 5'Nizza, who sing in Russian, has helped draw a fresh crowd.
"They are one of the most anticipated acts," he says. "They are very popular in Russia, and have toured America. When we met them in Riga to sign the contract, they told us how people in America came to see them and didn't understand a word of Russian, but were able to connect with the music anyway."

He went on: "What they do speaks to different nationalities. You don't have to understand the lyrics, because the music will get you on board anyway."
Then there will be Mad Sheer Khan, who uses traditional Indian instruments to play psychedelic versions of songs by the likes of Jimi Hendrix. Khan has developed a strong reputation on the world music circuit, and has collaborated with Sting and Nico from the Velvet Underground. He will close the world music stage on July 9 with a performance on his dilruba, a 24-string Indian violin.
There will be some Estonian musicians as well, including Tanel Padar and The Sun, a nu-rock band that fuses heavy guitar, a driving backbeat and roaring vocals. It's this danceable rock mix that has captivated a large audience in Tallinn, where the band draws sizeable crowds to every concert.

For a taste of Tallinn's underground indie-rock scene, check out Under Marie, a highly talented electro-rock band with a collection of catchy songs that deserves to be heard more outside of Estonia, as all world music is essentially for the world.

135 kroons (8.63 euros) per day
Runs until July 9
More info: