2 CD Latvian music sampler reveals diversity of Latvian folk music

The Latvian traditional and folk music label Lauska, in cooperation with the German music label CPL Music, have released a two CD sampler of Latvian folk music performances. Titled Folk & Great Tunes from Latvia, the set was released in 2018.

Over the course of 41 songs, the compilation reveals the many facets of Latvian folk music, from traditional to modern interpretations.

The collection includes many well-known Latvian artists, such as Auļi, Tautumeitas, Iļģi, ImantaDimanta, Raxtu Raxti, among many others.

The CD booklet also includes a few words from Christian Pliefke from CPL Music and Daina Zalāne from Lauska in both German and English.

For further information, please visit the CPL website and the Lauska website.

Folk & Great Tunes from Latvia

Various artists


Track listing

CD 1

  1. Auļi un Tautumeitas – Dzied papriekšu, brāļa māsa
  2. JJO – Jauno Jāņu Orķestris – Laumas meita
  3. ImantaDimanta – Tautiešami roku devu
  4. Austrumkalns – Rūtij bite rūtoj saule
  5. Raxtu raxti – Rakstu rakstus
  6. Zari – Rāmi rāmi
  7. Lata Donga – Sastdiņ guoju
  8. ZeMe – Sidraba lietiņš lija
  9. Kanisaifa – Melni vērši
  10. Tautumeitas – Dai citas meitas
  11. Iļģi – Acis veras
  12. Vētras saites – Rīga paliek
  13. Trejasmens – Miesmeti melnaci kam nāci agri
  14. Ilža – Dzīduot muoku, doncuot muoku
  15. Lāns – Es brāļiem viena māsa
  16. Saucējas – Kiokuj, uoru zagiuzeite
  17. Laima Jansone – Pavasara grīslis
  18. Daba San – Debesu kalējs
  19. Rāva – Baltaitiņa
  20. Auļi – Metens

CD 2

  1. Tautumeitas – Pāde
  2. Zari – Arājiņš (bastalāvis)
  3. JJO – Jauno Jāņu Orķestris – Dziesminja
  4. Raxtu Raxti – Mēness sauli dancī veda (bastalāvis)
  5. Auļi – Pieguļā
  6. Lāns – Aug magonīte
  7. Lata Donga – Jānīt`s sēde
  8. Rāva – Bāliņš
  9. ZeMe – Bumbulēt
  10. Daba San – Dienvidus
  11. Valdis Muktupāvels – Kurzemes zvani
  12. Austrumkalns – Aiz kalniņa dūmi kūpa
  13. Rahu the Fool – Saimniekdēli
  14. ImantaDimanta – Skanēt skana
  15. Iļģi – Istabā
  16. Kanisaifa – Vilki deja
  17. Trejasmens – Tur karoja karavīri
  18. Saucējas – Sešas peles mīgu vylka
  19. Vētras saites – Lauztās Priedes
  20. Ilža – Radzu, muote īt vacumā
  21. Tarkšķu mandolīnisti – Runča deja

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

Latest Prāta vētra album is proof of group’s vitality and skill

Prāta vētra, internationally known as Brainstorm, have, for the past few decades, been undisputedly the most successful of Latvian popular artists. Regularly selling out stadiums and arenas in Latvia, their albums and shows continue to find a wide audience within Latvia.

In 2018, the group released their latest album – Par to zēnu, kas sit skārda bungas – and, much like the many albums before it, it was a hit, and was followed up by well-attended concerts, including a concert attended by more than 60,000 at the Rīga Mežaparks Open-air Stage. The group has achieved international success as well, particularly in Russia (the group regularly release three versions of each of their albums – in Latvian, English and Russian).

The group formed in 1989, and released their first single in 1992. The group members include Renārs Kaupers on vocals, Jānis Jubalts on guitars, Kaspars Roga on drums, and keyboardist Māris Mihelsons. As on their previous albums, the bass guitar is performed by Ingars Viļums.

The album begins with the appropriately percussion heavy, even frantic title track. Partially inspired by the Günter Grass novel ‘The Tin Drum’ (and not the first Prāta vētra song to find inspiration there – the English language song ‘Tin Drums’ off their Četri krasti album was also similarly inspired), the song, with its energetic beginning and almost manic energy, sets the stage for the songs to follow, indicating that the group have no intention of slowing down after their career, which spans many decades.

Being, by far the most successful Latvian recording artists of the past few decades, Prāta vētra are able to bring in top international talent to oversee their recordings, and on this album, the producer is Povel Olsson from Sweden. The polish on this record is notable, though at times perhaps a bit overly slick, for example on the song ‘Ogles’, where the extensive and expansive synthesizer sounds and arrangements might remind some listeners of the equally synth-heavy songs of the earlier album Kaķēns, kas atteicās no jūrasskolas. Even so, the song, with its catchy melody, is one of the highlights of the album.

Over their many albums, Prāta vētra have experimented with many different musical styles and sounds, often times with success, but the funk elements on the song ‘Šokolādes saldējums’ sound a bit out of place with the rest of the songs on the album. Lyrics like ‘šokolādes saldējums – kā glazūra sirds lūzt’ (chocolate ice cream – my heart breaks like frosting) may make some listeners cringe as well.

The record concludes with what might be the group’s most unabashedly patriotic song, ‘Pirmais latvietis uz mēness’, a song that references the swell of emotion on seeing the Latvian flag after being away for a while, as well the singing of ‘Saule. Pērkons. Daugava.’, which is always one of the culmination points of any Latvian Song Celebration concert. The song foretells a time when a grandfather and grandson watch together as the first Latvian lands on the moon. The song, at once patriotic and inspiring, is an aptly fitting ending for this collection of songs.

Now in their third decade of recording and performing, Prāta vētra show as much vitality and songwriting skill on Par to zēnu, kas sit skārda bungas as they did on their earlier efforts. Still regularly filling stadiums in Latvia, the group’s words and music still affect listeners both young and old. Prāta vētra prove again that they are without peer or parallel in Latvian popular music. Certainly, some listeners will long for the quirkier, more off-beat songs of their early career, as Prāta vētra have journeyed a long way from their rougher, less polished beginnings, but Par to zēnu holds its own against their earlier albums, and is a worthy entry in their already rich discography.

For further information, please visit the Prāta vētra website.

Par to zēnu, kas sit skārda bungas

Prāta vētra

BRCD239, 2018

Track listing

1. Par to zēnu, kas sit skārda bungas

2. Ogles

3. Pašu dārgāko

4. Tevis dēļ

5. Kas būs – būs

6. Šokolādes saldējums

7. Paralēles

8. Как Я искал тебя

9. Draugam

10. Bezgalīgs stāsts

11. Pirmais latvietis uz mēness

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

Popular ‘Tautumeitas’ ensemble release ethno-pop folklore album

One of the most notable events in recent years in Latvian folk music has been the debut of the ensemble Tautumeitas. As their name implies, the group gathers together six ‘folk girls’ who perform songs inspired by Latvian folk songs and folklore. Their first recording, Lai māsiņa rotājās!, was performed together with the drum and bagpipe ensemble Auļi, and the group’s proper first debut album, simply entitled Tautumeitas, was released in 2018.

In just a few years, the ensemble has become one of the best known and most popular folk ensembles, and have even appeared in a commercial for the Latvian national airline airBaltic. The members of the group are Asnate Rancāne (violin, voice), Aurēlija Rancāne (drums, voice), Ilona Dzērve (accordion, voice), Lauma Bērza (violin, voice), Laura Liepiņa (percussion, voice) and Laura Marta Arāja (percussion, voice). The album also features additional musicians and instruments, such as brass instruments and cello. Integral to the album’s sound is also producer, percussionist and arranger Reinis Sējāns.

Though they use many elements from Latvian folklore in their songs, it is still a thoroughly modern album, and one might consider the songs to be a kind of ethno-pop style of world music.

As all six members of the group are singers, it is then no surprise that the vocals are the main focus for the musical offerings. The importance of singing is echoed in the first song, the appropriately titled ‘Sadziedami’, where the powerful vocals are supported by a thunderous musical accompaniment while the ensemble sings ‘sadziedam mēs, māsiņas’ (let’s sing together, sisters!)

Inspired by the Krustabas ritual (or Latvian folk Christening), the song ‘Pāde’ is a song about self-growth. The ritual of the ‘pādes dīdīšana’, where the one being christened is passed around in the arms of the invited guests, is meant to pass along positive thoughts from the guests. In this song, as with many of their songs, Tautumeitas use the mystical aspects of Latvian folk rituals to create a richly layered song, with help from Reinis Sējāns, who provided the arrangement.

Though much of the album is energetic and exuberant, there are moments of calm and tenderness, such as in the song ‘Pelīte’, a soothing, entrancing lullaby. The song tells of a mystical mouse that brings sleep to small children, and shows that the ensemble are equally versatile in both more active songs, as well as calmer and more peaceful songs like this one. Similarly, the somber ‘Raudi raudi’, a song about a boy crying, as the maiden will not come to him, is one of the album’s more intimate moments.

Other highlights include the rhythmic ‘Aiz azara’, sung in the Latgallian dialect, the catchy and infectious ‘Dai citas meitas’,  and the mystical, almost ritualistic ‘Raganu nakts’, a vibrant song about witches travelling the land during Midsummer.

Vibrant and vivacious, Tautumeitas’ debut album is both enjoyable and refreshing. With their powerful voices and harmonies, the group has established themselves as one of the premiere ensembles in Latvia. Combining elements of Latvian folklore with modern elements, the ensemble has woven together an engaging collection of songs.

For more information, please visit the Tautumeitas website.



ONAIR Studios


Track listing

  1. Intro
  2. Sadziedami
  3. Pāde
  4. Raganu nakts
  5. Vainagu deja
  6. Bērziņš
  7. Pelīte
  8. Raudi raudi
  9. Sastdine
  10. Ūgas
  11. Bārainīte
  12. Aiz azzaru
  13. Dai citas meitas

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.