By Mark Kemp
Finnish guitarist Olli Soikkeli, who performs the blistering lead guitar parts in this recent Acoustic Guitar Session featuring the Rhythm Future Quartet, met with guitar tragedy last weekend in Europe. Headed for concerts in the Netherlands and the U.K., Soikkeli was at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland, where agents for Finavia airlines made him check the gorgeous AJL X-O 503 guitar he plays in this session.
“There was plenty of space in the overhead bins and coat closet in front was pretty much empty,” Soikkeli wrote on his Facebook page. “I asked for ramp delivery tag to get my guitar back in Amsterdam but the Finavia agent in Helsinki checked it to my final destination.”
When Soikkeli arrived in Birmingham, the guitar was nowhere to be found. “I don’t have my instrument to play the concert,” he wrote. “Next day on my way back to Helsinki I get my guitar back at the Birmingham airport and I open the case and the neck-headstock joint is broken. All this because they wouldn’t let me board with my guitar in Helsinki.”
Airline travel has become safer for guitarists in the U.S. since enforcement of Section 43 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was improved last year. But that doesn’t help musicians like Soikkeli. “This is the second time my guitar got damaged because of this,” he wrote. “The attitude and treatment towards musicians traveling with instruments is outrageous at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport!”