Is the tiny island town of Sointula, B.C., the world’s last hope for a socialist utopia? Maybe, but it’s almost certainly the only place in Canada to see a live show of Finnish political parody rock this weekend.
The members of Punatähdet — “Red Stars” in English — arrived Wednesday in the village on Malcolm Island to play a few gigs, have a bit of fun and hopefully rekindle interest in the utopian ideals Sointula was founded on.
“We had a song about Sointula for 20 years now, and actually we’ve dreamt about travelling here,” Punatähdet singer Jan Erola told CBC News.
“Of course, it is a pure form of utopian socialism here, so we’re just trying to bring it back.”
Now a 25-minute ferry ride from Port McNeill, Sointula was founded in 1901 by the Finnish journalist Matti Kurikka. About 200 miners travelled from Finland to live communally, sharing food and land, and promising women equal wages and voting rights.
Like most would-be utopias, the dream didn’t last long, and the colony dissolved within a few years, after a fire that killed 11 people.
But many of the Finns remained, and their descendants still live in Sointula today.
Earlier this week, some of the town’s seniors got a chance to hear two new Punatähdet songs, with lyrics written last century by Matti Kurikka himself.
“It was really touching. We actually cried afterwards,” Erola said. “Singing with these people…it’s beyond imagination to experience that kind of thing.”
The original song about Sointula, played in the band’s trademark 1970s style, was a bit of a lighthearted joke about the utopian experiment.
“It’s like a commercial — ‘Come to Sointula and you’ll get two wives,’ and that sort of thing. But to be actually here and meet these people — words cannot describe the feeling. It’s amazing,” Erola said.
In all, Punatähdet will play three shows in Sointula, the biggest of which is Saturday’s “Great Utopian Rock’n’Roll Party” at the Finnish Organization Hall.
The audience can expect to hear songs like “Trump,” played to the tune of Van Halen’s “Jump.”
“There’s part of that song that this Mr. President gets an idea, early in the morning, that they should build a wall against Canada as well,” Erola said.
A Punatähdet show, he said, will likely leave the…