Jussi Syren And The Groundbreakers was formed in 1995. It is one of the few true working bluegrass groups outside of the United States. Besides having a heavy touring schedule in their native Finland, The Groundbreakers have performed in United States, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Holland. Their recordings have got great reviews in music media worldwide. Their releases have got airplay in United States, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Norway and the list goes on...The band calls its music "Bluegrass with overdrive" - incompromising, hard edged music. The trademark elements of the bands unique sound is Syrens gritty singing and Tauri Oksalas bluesy banjo along with the rock solid rhythm work of guitarist J.P. Putkonen and bassist Kari Hella.
The Groundbreakers are truly "bluegrass crusaders" taking this music to most versatile venues: night clubs, rock clubs and even discos. They have been in prime time TV shows and on the playlists of national radios in their native Finland. Their latest release "Heartagrass" brought them national recognition - the album was reviewed in every Finnish music magazine and leading newspapers. Their touring schedule takes no back seat to the ones of US groups.
The leader Jussi Syren has been in roots music scene for 25 years, starting his career on Hi Hat label (sub label of Warner) and having his first chart success in 1981 with rockabilly group Red Hot.
Nowdays he has also two other groups: Jussi Syren Rockabilly Revival (rockabilly band) and Ranch Riot (traditional country band). Syren sings lead and plays electric lead guitar on both bands.
The guitar player and harmony singer J.P. Putkonen has been with the group from the start. He started out as an upright bass player in a rockabilly group in the 80īs and switched to mandolin in the early 90īs playing with Helsinki based Berghall Mountain Boys. He still plays mandolin occassionally with The Groundbreakers. While not touring or recording with The Groundbreakers, he teaches guitar.
The banjo player Tauri Oksala started playing banjo in the early 90īs. He got familiar with roots music trough his big brother who used to listen to country, rockabilly, and bluegrass. Tauri started with guitar in a school band playing rockīnīroll and rhythm & blues. Later he joined Tex Mex group "Squeeze Box" opening Flaco Jimenez in his Finland tour in mid 90īs. Tauri also plays banjo in Wasel Arar & North State - a Helsinki based progressive bluegrass group. Tauris work has been noted also in US - his tabulatures have been published in Banjo Newsletter.
The bass player Kari Hella is another "big label" guy in the band. He recorded with group Susivatkain on EMI label in the late 70īs. Besides bass playing skills he is a top studio engineer running his Audio Palace studios in southern Finland. Kari is the only guy in the group who has a "regular" day job - he builds and designs church organs.