Previously on Festival du Bois 2014: Geri, Dara, and I saw Bon Débarras, De Temps Antan, La Famille Léger, and Vishtèn! Poutine and maple syrup on a stick were nommed with great glee! And I discovered that there are fewer things more musically scary than being in the same session room with Yves Lambert!
And now, this post’s installment of Festival du Bois 2014: Sunday!
Les Échos du Pacifique and Alouest:
There were some names on the lineup for Sunday that I didn’t recognize, so I was hoping to get to the site early enough to catch some of those acts–specifically, I wanted to be there by 10:45 to check out Alouest.
(Important side note: this is the Alouest who are local to Maillardville, NOT, as it turns out, the folk-rock group from Belgium by the same name. Who I stumbled across when googling to see who these guys were!)
We did in fact make it to the big tent in time for this. And in fact, given that the festival was running on Musician Time (a phenomenon Dara is long familiar with, running her own music lineup at Norwescon), we actually reached the big tent in time for the very tail end of Les Échos du Pacifique, who were a choir.
From where we were sitting in the tent, sadly, Les Échos weren’t coming across very clearly over the sound system. Don’t know why–it’s possible that the sound engineers had been mostly gearing up for the higher-energy acts and had a harder time adjusting to a group that was all vocal, I guess. What that ultimately meant for Dara and me, anyway, is that we mostly didn’t get enough of an impression of those folks to decide if we liked them. It was difficult to distinguish individual voices in the overall choral brick coming down off the stage.
Alouest turned out to be more old-timey-flavored than is my personal taste. They were all very excellent musicians, and it is by no means any fault of theirs that it’s very hard to tear me away from the stompy, high-energy, turlutte-peppered stuff I love out of the bands from Quebec! So Dara and I went off to explore a bit more before it was time to hit the first critical act on the schedule for the day.
That said? Slapping this sort of ragged edge around the one good pic I got of them seems to be appropriate and in character!
Once again, poutine and maple syrup on a stick were had as the afternoon progressed. And since my session group from Seattle was well-represented among the attendees, we ran into one of those ladies and had a lovely chat with her. Likewise, the chat I had with the lady at the merch table where the CDs were was awesome. She seemed rather stunned that I’d come all the way up from the states, and quite pleased when I explained how I’d fallen in love with Francophone music and definitely intended to keep coming back to the festival as much as possible. I was hoping to get maple candy from her, but she’d sold out. So I bought a scarf instead!
Yves Lambert Trio
I already knew the redoubtable M. Lambert had been doing some smaller-scale work since stepping down from La Bottine. I do in fact have a couple of his more recent albums, but I hadn’t gotten to see him perform for over thirteen years–since the first and only time I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing La Bottine Souriante! And having seen the man cut loose on his accordion the night before only exacerbated my excitement to see him in full performance mode.
Because yeah. Like I said in the previous post, this is the man who arguably sold me on Quebec music to begin with–because between him and Michel Bordeleau, that very first La Bottine album I got set off the slow burn that eventually exploded into my third great musical fandom, after Elvis and Great Big Sea! I’ve frequently described him as having a very round, “verrah French”, 900-calorie-cheesecake voice. Other people have described him as charismatic, and yeah, that’s exactly right, even when he’s being relaxed and groovy for a workshop-tent-sized set.
His two compatriots, Tommy Gauthier and Olivier Rondeau, were both excellent with the backup vocals and their instruments. But mostly I was there for Monsieur Lambert, and if anyone ever makes cracks to me again about the accordion being a silly instrument, I will say with great pleasure that they are wrong. Because clearly they haven’t heard this man on the accordion. Great hopping gods, the man can play. And he’s just fun to watch, too. Devon Léger has described playing the accordion as being like wrestling an alligator–but if that’s true, then Yves Lambert is King of All the Alligators. With the flamboyant way he plays, I would not have been surprised in the slightest to see him whirl his accordion around his head a few times, still making it sound amazing the entire time.
And yeah, this was a workshop tent set, so again, very short. I was amused that the group was introduced by a gentleman who made cracks about how only musicians from Quebec could choose to have a music festival outside during March–and how that’s warm for them! Monsieur Lambert grinned at this, but noted to us that he hates playing outside. He kept switching between French and his thickly accented English, and mentioned as well that this was the eighth time, la huitième fois, that he’d played Festival du Bois–four times with La Bottine and four times on his own. (Which I mention mostly out of general satisfaction at recognizing the words “la huitième fois” when he said them!)
I recognized the song “Ti Get-Up Charlie”, and there was at least one other song that I recognized from earlier La Bottine recordings, the name of which is currently eluding me. And there were several fiery instrumentals, all of which were a joy to listen to. Whenever he sang, though, he’d set aside the squeezebox and stand up. Like this!
That would be Professeur Lambert’s masterclass in Complete and Utter Accordion Domination, in case you were wondering.
Okay yeah sure, Dara and I not being children, it was a little weird for us to pop into the children’s tent for Dejah Léger’s set. But, well, y’know, I know Dejah! And I’d promised her that either Dara or I would take video if we could.
And it was fun to see her performing for the kids, anyway! While we were in there we saw Frenchie Le Clown working the kid crowd, too, with balloon animals. I amused myself trying to see if I could follow what French he used to talk to the kids as he made animals for them.
Dejah’s set material was familiar, since I’ve seen her do this set before, and have seen her do her crankies at our sessions as well. And of course her beau-père Louis was there to do the crankies for her as well, and when the two of them fired up the familiar “Frog Went A-Courtin'” song, I got my shot at doing video! First time I’d ever done video on my current phone, too!
Since I knew Dejah had to scamper off right after her set to head down to Port Townsend, Dara and I didn’t linger after she and Louis were done–and if nothing else, I had IMPORTANT business to attend to myself. Namely, De Temps Antan’s next set!
De Temps Antan
As I said in the previous post, attending every possible De Temps Antan set at this festival was mandantory. Because I got spoiled at Harrison Hot Springs seeing those boys twice in as many days, you see–and at this festival, I totally broke that record!
Dara and I barely got in in time for the set to start–they’d already started soundchecking when we showed up. And the tent was full, too, so we wound up standing on the side of the audience. Which was fine by me–because the weather had turned rainy, and the ground inside the tent had gotten rather squishy, and water was building up in the space where we were standing. It was in fact squishy enough that some of the festival volunteers brought boards in, in an attempt to make things a bit more stable. Because y’know what you don’t want around electronics, when you’re trying to do a concert set? Water!
Since this was a workshop tent set, though, it was short. And according to my notes, they did a total of four pieces. As it turns out, one each for the three boys to take turns singing lead, and then an instrumental! The shortness of the set was probably a good thing, though. Dara leaned over and opined to me that Éric looked like he needed a nap.
But that said, the mini-set showed no lack of energy whatsoever. André got “Dominic à Marcel” and Pierre-Luc belted out “La maison renfoncée”, both from their second album. But ah YES, Éric got “Adieu donc cher cœur”! Hands down my favorite song off the new album, and I was very, very much looking forward to hearing them do this one. What can I say? I’ve been working on learning the lyrics to that ‘un. I’m partial.
As soon as DTA finished their set, though, we had to bolt again–this time for one more jaunt to the big tent, to catch the aforementioned Monsieur Lambert on the big stage again! However, see previous commentary re: the big stage running on Musician Time. When we got in there, Matuto were still finishing up their set.
And I gotta say, from what little we saw of them, they seemed lively and fun. I particularly liked how the lead singer got the various festival performers in various costumes to come up and join the dancing crowd. “ALL PUPPETS, CLOWNS, AND COWS TO STAGE FRONT, PLEASE,” he called, and he did a great job getting a bit of call-and-response vocals going. I liked these guys. I think I need to check out their album.
Yves Lambert Trio, La Deuxième Fois
Everything I said up there before about the Yves Lambert Trio applies here, too, pretty much. Except on the big stage, they had a much more powerful sound system to play with, and didn’t need to worry about Lac du Bois in the workshop tent shorting out their amps!
I really, really didn’t want to leave before their set was over. But they were still playing by 3:30, even though the schedule had said they were supposed to be over and done with by 3:15. And since Dara and I had to go catch the Skytrain so we could hasten over to Kitsilano for the rest of the day’s adventures–meeting friends for dinner, and our final round of De Temps Antan!
On the way out, I noted with regret that there was the distinct sound of a session in progress coming out of a tent–one which Dara and I totally would have tried to join, if we weren’t hard-pressed to hoof it over to catch the Skytrain. But oh, that was a nice lovely reel on the breeze, to see us out.
Will we come back?
Absolutely. This year’s festival was huge fun, all the more so now that I’ve had some time to develop an appreciation for the music, both as a listener and as someone learning to play it herself. Moreover, I’m increasing my appreciation for the French language daily, every time I study and read in it. Maybe next time, I’ll be able to pick out even more bits of lyrics!
Many thanks et merci beaucoup to all festival hands for putting on a fantastic event! Especially to the gentlemen running the shuttle busses back and forth from the park to the IKEA. You guys were all awesome. ^_^
But WAIT WAIT WAIT WHAT ABOUT THE CD?
Stand by on that, Internets! Because De Temps Antan at the Rogue deserves its very own post!