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date: 15 November 2019

Moilanen, Art(hur J.) locked

  • Jonas Westover


(b Mass City, MI, Dec 21, 1916; d Mass City, MI, Sept 18, 2005). American accordionist. Moilanen’s parents immigrated to the United States from Finland in the early 20th century. He started playing harmonica, then moved on to the accordion, while absorbing the cultural heritage of the local Finnish American logging community. He was largely self-taught in the rudiments of music, but modeled himself after accordionist Viola Turpeinen. He joined bands playing for community dances, learning tunes from group members and from records that local miners and loggers had brought to America. After serving in World War II, he returned home to become a logger himself. Like many other folk musicians, he pursued music in his spare time until 1965, when he opened a tavern where he could better indulge his musical interests. Moilanen remained especially active as both an instrumentalist and a singer for local dances. He became well known for his comic songs as well as his romantic ballads, which were often drawn from 19th-century Finnish sources. He blended traditional Finnish elements with more modern, popular styles with great success, managing to combine country and western, “old time” music, Finnish songs, and American pop tunes. He was the recipient of a Michigan Heritage Award in ...

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