Black Diamond (Rissanen / de Plicque)

Happy Blues and Real Soul Music

The True Story of…
The Black Diamond! (Rissanen / de Plicque)
and… How it Was Found!

In Eastern Finland, there’s a big province called: “Savo”, which among Finns is known as: “The Finnish Texas”. There is no oil though, no cowboys and no longhorn cattle. And, it’s not even near the Mexican border. But every time when a person born there opens their mouth, you can hear a strange “twang”, a funny accent… An accent which totally, (and some say brutally), breaks all the rules of the very complicated Finnish grammar. And that’s why they call it: The Finnish Texas!”

When the whiter half of the Black Diamond Duo, Jari Rissanen, born in Kuopio, (Savo), now resident in Lapinlahti, took his guitars and moved to Helsinki, in search for more work, the first thing he had to do, was to correct his twang. This was so that he could be understood, and credible in the main music center of Finland. Folks from Texas often have the same problem when they move to New York for example.

Anyway, he managed quite well and found some work playing all styles of music, from progressive rock, to traditional Finnish “humppa-music”, from streets and small dance-halls, to theaters, studios and everything in between.

Eventually he found his way to the not-so-big blues circuit of Helsinki. There he had the chance to play the music that had been closest to his heart since his early teens. This was an opportunity to execute the musical language he had been learning from the 45’s and lps (“dinosaurs” as the new generation call them today), of guitarists of Texas.

The most important day, (slight exaggeration like most Finnish Texans), in the career of Jari Rissanen, was the day when he met Monsieur Christian-Charles Milton de Plicque, a mulatto blues and Black Gospel singer from…you guessed it, TEXAS!

Born in Dallas, with heavy french roots…de Plicque, or “Risto-Kalle” as he is known in Finland, being somewhat older than Jari, happened to know personally, some of the blues artists he admired the most. Guitarists like the late great Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan (the late brother of Jimmie), Johnny Winter, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Johnny get the picture. Risto-Kalle knew those guys and had played with them back in the ‘60’s. Especially having worked with Stevie Ray, in their first known group in the Southwest of Texas and Oklahoma called: “Blackbird”.

Since those days in Texas, Monsieur de Plicque has had a remarkable career as an artist, performing Black Gospel and traditional happy blues all around the world. From Texas he moved to his family’s’ homeland France, where he lived for over a decade, touring Central Europe, South Africa, Russia and Scandinavian countries with gifted musicians. In 1988 he officially left France, to settle in Finland. He is now a permanent resident and resides in the seaside cosmopolitan city of Karleby (Kokkola). He obtained a degree in Swedish (Finland’s’ second national language), and manages quite well in Finnish too. There he is journalist for the city’s’ swedish-speaking newspaper: Österbottningen Tidning.

In 1989, he made his third european cd, and first one done in Finland: “Nothin’ But The Truth!”, and had no regrets about using talented Finnish musicians and background vocalists on it…because they sound “quite black”, as he keeps saying… The nucleus of that studio group became the powerfully dynamic “Boss’s Band!”. That group of 14, swept through Finland like a fire out of control. It dissolved in 1990.

Rissanen of course remains the “main man” guitarist of “Risto-Kalle”. In so much that The Black Diamond Duo was formed.
This is very simple: a black man’s strong and soulful voice, accompanied only by an old National steel bodied Dobro guitar, and sometimes a few other acoustic and electric guitars for colorful ambiance! The Black Diamond Duo was formed in 1987, when these two guys were sitting together in Jari’s apartment. Rissanen picked up his Dobro and began to accompany Risto-Kalle on an old Negro Spiritual he was humming.

They soon made a demo, at the request of friends who dug what they were doing. It was played to their musician and producer colleagues. Those folk immediately started to encourage them to do more of the same kind of stuff,: that old Mississippi/Texas style, down-to-the-bone style…

Things went on and the Black Diamond Duo had more and more performances at clubs, festivals, radio, tv, churches…

You’ll hear all the old masters: Sonhouse, Robert Johnson, Bukka White, while mixed with a beautiful taste of steaming Black Gospel and steady heaping spoonfuls of rhythm& blues to knock your socks off!

Like all Black Diamonds, this Black Diamond is ever being polished to perfection…and is shining brilliantly even more so in the Millenium, as it ages.

In addition to de Plicque, who, according to Jari in any case, definitely got one of the most powerful voices on the planet, Rissanen is one of the very few musicians in Finland, who carries on the old Delta Blues/Gospel tradition with bottleneck style in the footprints of the greats.

This year, 2003, is the first time these two Savo-Texans have gotten back together, after more than a decade of being involved in other musical ventures. But don’t you worry! They still pack a wallop!

And so the story goes on. The next chapter of this story is due out anyday now…

Story’s English and Finnish text by:
Jari Rissanen
Lapinlahti Blues Association r.y. Finland

For International Festival & Concert Reservations:
Jari Rissanen:
Mobile: 358.40 .523 9823
or: 358.17. 732 120

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