The Russian pop saga of the New Wave Festival will draw to a close in Jūrmala, but it will be upstaged by Mika. Sort of the male response to Lady Gaga, the British pop star is coming to all three Baltic states over the next few days. Interestingly for a region not known for its tolerance of homosexuality, the intentionally ambiguous Mika and the overtly gay Scissor Sisters were two of the biggest acts to play in the Baltics this summer. A sign of change?
In the meantime Lithuania’s most noteworthy artists of the last 20 years can all be seen at the Tamsta Music Festival, organized by Vilnius’ premiere live music venue. It’s not taking place in the capital though, but instead in a beautiful lake island setting. Can’t get more Lithuanian than that.
In addition there’s an indie rock festival in Tallinn, a blues festival in Sigulda and off all things an Édith Piaf picnic-concert in the Širvintos countryside. So take your pick, it’s all there this weekend.
Tamsta Music Festival
Varėna Song Park, Varėna
There’s no better chance to see what Lithuania’s top homegrown acts have to offer than this festival devoted exclusively to that. Trek down to Varėna near the Polish border for this two-day festival on a wooded island in the middle of a lake. Bring a tent or grab a hotel room in town to see the legendary rockers Bix, ska acts Antis and InCulto as well as trip-hop R&B acts Leon Somov & Jazzu and Empti and a long list of other acts. Tickets: 35 litai (€10) for one day, 60 litai (€17) for both days
July 31, 7 p.m.
Palangos Vasara Festiva
Amber Museum, Palanga
No, Grayson Masefield didn’t miss his flight back to New Zealand this week, he’s just doing another show in a nation that holds accordions dear to its heart. In an interesting line-up, he’ll be performing on the terrace of the beautiful 19th century Tiškevičiai Palace after an opening act. What’s the opening act? A screening of the animated Swedish classic “Junior and Karlson” making this probably the most family-friendly event all summer. The concert is part of the ongoing Palangos Vasara Festival. Tickets: 41-66 litai (€12-€19)
Aug. 1, 5 p.m.
A picnic with Édith Piaf
Šešuolėliai Manor Estate, near Širvintos
Here’s great date material. Talented Lithuanian singer Evelina Sašenko performs a set of French chanson Édith Piaf tunes while the audience enjoys a picnic — I’d recommend bringing some wine and cheese — next to the beautiful 18th century Šešuolėliai Manor Estate. Check the website below for directions. Part of the ongoing St. Christopher Festival. Tickets: 25 litai
Mika, 8 p.m.
Klaipėda cruise ship terminal, Klaipėda
Flamboyant British pop singer-songwriter stops in Klaipėda as part of his summer concert tour promoting his new album The Boy Who Knew Too Much. If you haven’t heard him yet, let me assure you that if you’re a Scissor Sisters, Elton John or early-period David Bowie fan, you’ll enjoy the show which is being played on the harbor docks, oddly enough. Tickets: 90-150 litai (€26-€44)
Aug. 3, 9 p.m.
Night Serenades in Palanga
Amber Museum, Palanga
The Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra performs a selections of Mozart and Handel on the terrace of Palanga’s classiest venue, the beautiful 19th century Tiškevičiai Palace. If you like classical, this is as good as it gets assuming the weather behaves. Tickets: 27 litai (€8)
Aug. 4, 8 p.m.
Fado: Portugese spells
Vilnius Teacher’s House Courtyard, Vilnius
Fado, the slow, rich, distinctly Portuguese folk music comes to Vilnius on Wednesday for an outdoor show in the Vilnius Teacher’s House Courtyard. Baritone Hélder Moutinho will be on vocals along with two Portuguese classical guitar players. Tickets: 22-102 litai (€6.50-€30)
July 30, 7:30 p.m.
Neapolitan Music Show
Amber Bereg Sanatorium, Jūrmala
Latvian pop singer Žoržs Siksna and opera star Oļegs Orlovs are performing a set of Canzone Napoletana such as “O Sole Mio.” A break from the usual Russian acts for some Mediterranean flavor in Jūrmala. Tickets: 3-5 lats (€4.50-€7)
July 30-Aug. 1
New Wave Festival
Jūrmala Beach, Jūrmala
The New Wave song contest, the entrants mostly made up of Russian pop stars continues this weekend with the final of the competition. There are also afterparties featuring some of the performers at Riga’s Godvils and typically-named Studio 69 clubs. Tickets vary by day.
July 31, 2 p.m.
Sigulda Blues Festival
Sigulda Castle grounds, Sigulda
Latvia’s been down in the dumps lately for a number of reasons, but like the poor southern U.S. blacks some are turning misfortune into soulful blues music. See a number of local acts at the Sigulda Blues Festival this weekend next to the ruins of the city’s hilltop medieval castle. Tickets: 5-7 lats (€7-€10 lats)
Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m.
Dzintaru Concert Hall, Jūrmala
Like a Russian George Michael, if you’re looking for a more mature, adult-contemporary version of Russian pop instead of the flashy young variety at New Wave this weekend, check out Valerij Meladze. Tickets: 10-60 lats (€16-€85)
Aug. 2, 8 p.m.
Arēna Rīga, Riga
The day after playing Klaipėda, gender-bender Mika heads up to Riga for a second show. Tickets: 12-34 lats (€17-€48)
July 30-Aug. 1
Rapla sacred music festival
The Rapla sacred music festival continues this weekend with various choir performances with and without accompaniment in various locations in Estonia. Check the website for more information.
July 31, 12 p.m.
Tartu Song Festival grounds, Tartu
The Plink Plonk indie rock festival comes to Tartu, which will have a nice collection of talented unknowns from the U.K. and Estonia. Tickets: 250 krooni (€16)
July 31-Aug. 1
Kiviõli Motofestival 2010
Kiviõli Fairgrounds, Kiviõli
Motorbike flips, jumps and races as well as local rock band The Sun will be happening at the Kiviõli Motofestival 2010 in northwestern Estonia. Tickets: 150-290 krooni (€10-€19)
Aug. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Naissaar Island, near Tallinn
Another excellent choice for a date, the Nargen Festival features the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra playing Estonian composer Veljo Tormise’s “Reminiscentiae” on the atmospheric, wooden island of Naissaar off the coast of Tallinn. Tickets: 300 krooni (€19) with boat ride to/from island, 200 krooni (€13) if you have your own boat.
Aug. 3, 8 p.m.
Tallinn Song Festival grounds, Tallinn
The day after playing in Riga, the fab Mika swings up to Tallinn for another show. Tickets: 350-1,300 krooni (€22.50-€83)