In the late 1980s and ’90s, Winnipeg-based klezmer ensemble Finjan was working at max capacity.

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In the late 1980s and ’90s, Winnipeg-based klezmer ensemble Finjan was working at max capacity.

The six-piece released five albums, earned two Juno nominations and took home a Western Canadian Music Award; their unique blend of eastern European sounds and soulful styles combined with energetic (and often improvised) solos, incredible musicianship and layered compositions had garnered them fans around the world.

And they were touring constantly, sometimes ending up in unique locales — they played a show at a Kentucky zoo along with the sounds of the animals; they appeared in the film The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick; they performed at a private party in Monaco for the father of a friend of Rush’s Geddy Lee, who, himself, is a Finjan fan.

But, amidst the excitement and success, it became apparent the band model they built was no longer sustainable; each member was working during the week at other jobs, music-related or otherwise, and playing shows on weekends, often with young kids in tow.

There was a lack of balance and a desire to be at home more, and so the decision was made to go on hiatus until it made sense to pick things back up again.

"We just felt it was a bit too much... It became tough, not stressful, but just a really heavy load and we were just trying to lighten it in some way. So we decided to take a break, but we didn’t break up, we always called it a hiatus, we knew we would get back together at some point," vocalist and acoustic bass player Kinzey Posen says.

Finjan would still play shows here and there — weddings, other events and even a show with the WSO in 2016 — but it wasn’t until earlier this year that the timing felt right to get the gang back together in a more formal sense.

Posen recently retired from his job as a programmer and producer at CBC, while his wife and bandmate, Shayla Fink, also retired from her career as a teacher; all the band members are now in a new phase of life with grown-up children and more free time. (Posen and Fink’s son is well-respected local guitarist and singer-songwriter Ariel Posen.)

"We’re trying to bring it back, probably to the level we had before. We would like to do that. We were in Florida in March in a place we played before; it felt good and we just want to continue that," Posen says.

This weekend, Finjan will be back on the West End Cultural stage for the first time in a long time, digging out some deep cuts and revealing some new tunes.

"In essence, we are never forgetting our audience in Winnipeg; we treasure them and, hopefully, we can inspire people once again," Posen says. "We have some new material, for sure, and we’ve also taken some pieces we haven’t played for a long, long time and reworked them a little bit. And it’s fun to come to the West End, because when we first started in ’82 or ’83, we used to do an annual concert there."

With new music in hand and an intention to amp up their touring schedule, Posen says it is also a distinct possibility the band could get back into the studio to make an album, though no specific plans have been made.

"It’s definitely in the back of our minds, it’s just the time. The process for a Finjan album to happen is we work out the arrangements, which take a long time because it’s just layer after layer and that’s just our process, and then the rehearsals and then going into the studio," Posen says.

"So if we can block that out in the future, we definitely will; we want to."

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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