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Quebecois Music

Festival du Bois trip, Day 1: Saturday!

My belovedest Dara and I have done the trip up to Vancouver quite a few times at this point–but still, it’s a bit rough getting up at stupid-o’clock in the morning in time to get on an early bus, go all the way down to King Street Station, and get on a train to go all the way up to Vancouver. There was quite a bit of yawning involved.

But then, with Festival du Bois waiting on the other end, I was quite willing to spend my Saturday morning snoozing on a train!

As always, our friends Geri and Rob kindly put us up for the weekend at their place. This time around, we brought Rob a bottle of Scotch by way of a “thank you for letting us snooze here!” gift. (That, and I’m sure their dog was happy to have two extra pairs of hands to throw the ball down the stairs.) And, this time around, Geri elected to come to the festival shenanigans with us on Saturday!

My only regret? Realizing only after we were on our way north that I’d totally forgotten to bring Jean-Claude. AUGH. For the best, though, since the weather was wet and cold and let me tell you, Internets, there’s nothing quite as pungent as the smell of wet mammoth.

(Full deets and pics behind the fold!)

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Day of Signal Boosting! And also news!

So happy Boosting the Signal Premiere Day, y’all! If you haven’t seen ’em already, I’ve got the first two posts up, featuring Genevieve Griffin and Anna Kashina!

Quite excited to give these authors a shot at getting the word out about their work, and I hope y’all will consider giving them a look.

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And now, additional items to signal boost!

Michael F. Stewart is a fellow former Drollerie author, and he’s got a Kickstarter! He’s writing YA, with zombies. And as y’all know, zombies ARE relevant to my interests!

If they’re relevant to yours, go give him a look and maybe a pledge, mmkay? Do it for Canadian indie science fiction! Do it for Michael! Do it for ZOMBIES.

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My pal Dejah Leger, about whom I have enthused on this blog more than once, performs with her family under the name La Famille Leger! And they’ve just dropped a brand new shiny album! It’s called L’étoile du nord, and it’s chock full of tasty Acadian music. If you have any interest in French-Canadian trad, you should totally check this out. This is La Famille Leger’s first professionally engineered album, and I’ve listened to it now streaming off of Bandcamp, and whoa and damn it sounds good. I particularly commend to your attention tracks 8 and 12–especially track 12, which contains a tune I’m learning how to play since we’re doing it in session! Come for Dejah’s lovely singing and the wry vocals by her beau-père Louis, as well! Stay for the cracklin’ foot-stompin’ tunes!

The album lives right over here on Bandcamp. And if you can see the embedded player in this post, you can just click right on it! Check it out! And if you like what you hear, give it a buy, won’t you? All that’s stopping me from buying this RIGHT NOW is that I’m buying a physical CD directly from the Legers. But the rest of you out there in Internetland, throw ’em some dollars through Bandcamp and tell ’em I sent you!

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And speaking of awesome French-Canadian music, Dara and I are about to scamper up to Canada for round one of our March musical shenanigans! We’re hitting Festival du Bois, the Francophone music festival in B.C., at which quite a few of my favorite musicians will be performing! Not only the aforementioned La Famille Leger, but also the Yves Lambert trio! Real excited about seeing Monsieur Lambert, since he’s the singer whose lead vocals on La Bottine Souriante way back in 2000 got me hooked on Quebec music in the first place.

And! AND! There will also be Vishtèn! Y’all may recall that Dara and I got to see them in Newfoundland in 2012, and they were awesome, and I am very much looking forward to seeing them again!

Last but most assuredly not least, my boys of De Temps Antan, about whom I have failed to be able to shut up, almost as much as I’ve failed to stop gushing over Le Vent du Nord. ;D

Forecast for this weekend is perfectly ridiculous amounts of fun, and I’ll be roping several friends into attending the shenanigans with us! Best of all Dara and I get to meet up with userinfomaellenkleth and userinfosiestabear for the De Temps Antan show at St. James Hall–two years and a day after the delightful Le Vent du Nord show at the same venue! Which means that Sunday night will be our second anniversary of getting Canada-married, which means we’ll have not only badass music to enjoy, but an anniversary to celebrate as well! SO AWESOME. \0/

Quebecois Music

Album review: Ici on fête, by Various Artists

Ici on fête

Ici on fête

I owe a large debt of gratitude to my friend Melanie in Montréal for alerting me to the gem that is Ici on fête, a recently released live compilation album featuring a broad swath of bands and artists in the Quebecois trad genre. This thing features not one, not two, but FIVE of my top favorite Quebec bands, all of whom I’ve posted about in glowing terms as you all know. La Bottine Souriante! De Temps Antan! Le Vent du Nord! Genticorum! And Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer!

It’s pretty much only lacking Galant tu perds ton temps to be a stunningly accurate summuary of my entire collection, really. And while I must sadface at the lack of that fine group, there is much consolation to be found in several other familiar names out of my collection here–Les Batinses, Mes Aïeux, Nicolas Pellerin, Yves Lambert & Le Bébert Orchestra, Les Chauffeurs à Pieds, and Michel Faubert.

Melanie pointed me at this communique about the album, from which I learn that the redoubtable M. Faubert (whose voice I came to know as part of the Charbonniers) is a driving force behind the collection. He in particular is represented on three of the tracks, and he’s in excellent voice in all three, setting the bar very high for everyone else’s performances–and, happily, every other artist on the album meets and matches him.

Tracks 2 and 3 all by themselves make this collection worth the price of admission for me. Y’all already know I’m a De Temps Antan fangirl, and hearing them whip through a live take of “Buvons mes chers amis buvons” is always fun. But what really blew my socks straight off is La Bottine Souriante’s track 3, “Le p’tit porte-clé”–which I immediately recognized as the song I know as “Le ziguezon”, a very early footstomper from La Bottine’s first couple of albums, recorded with André Marchand singing lead. “Le ziguezon” is one of my regular repeat favorites, and to hear it sung by Éric Beaudry here, doing it fine lively justice, made me want to start stepdancing through the streets of downtown Seattle.

Of course I cannot talk about my favorite tracks without talking about Le Vent du Nord. They’re here too, checking with a very strong take of “La fille et les dragons”. This is a song I’ve experienced as its studio take as well as on both of Le Vent’s live albums–but not with a drum track, which was a startling and fun addition, though I wouldn’t want to make a habit of that. (The drum track, after all, rather drowned out the laser precision of the feet of Olivier Demers. And we can’t have that, now can we?)

Genticorum also represents, with a take of one of their earlier instrumentals, “Cascou”, from their album Malins Plaisirs. The only lament I have about this performance is that Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand is not playing his flute on this set. But since he is cutting loose on the bass, that lament is actually fairly small. I’ve seen and heard that bass with my own eyes and ears, people. Five-stringed fretless basses are love.

And then there’s Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, who offer up what to my ears is a treat indeed: a song of theirs that I do not, in fact, have represented on any prior album of theirs I own! The song is called “Tout l’monde est malheureux”, and it flips back and forth between morose and full harmonic speed. My ear for a song is tugging at this, convinced I’ve heard it before at some point, but I don’t currently have anything else by the same title–so if some other band I’ve purchased music from has recorded this, they did it under a different title. Clearly I’m just going to have to listen to my entire collection again until I find it. Oh darn.

“Souliers rouges” was another song I immediately recognized, though here it’s performed by Manigance, and I’m familiar with the version by La Volée d’Castors. Still, I find it great fun to hear different artists’ interpretation of the same song (the aforementioned “Le ziguezon” is a great example of this, given that I’ve got a version of that by Mauvais Sort in my collection too!). This time was no exception.

Les Tireux d’Roches, as if to console me for the lack of Genticorum’s flute firepower, handed me some of their own and filled my ears with glee. And harmony, for that matter. Very much liked their take of “Maluré soldat”. I’ve got a bit of this group represented in my collection now, but I didn’t have this song yet, which is one on of their albums I have not yet acquired. I shall be rectifying this problem at my earliest opportunity.

I was quite pleased, too, to see women take the lead on the singing at least on a couple of the tracks, so I’ll call them out both by name here: Mara Tremblay on “La chanson du bavard”, and Angèle Arsenault on “J’ai un bouton sur le bout de la langue”. This wasn’t quite enough consolation to make up for the lack of Galant tu perds ton temps, but it did help!

All in all the album is upbeat in spirit, which is befitting a release targeted for the holiday season (c.f., the communique I linked to above). While the material here isn’t specifically holiday-themed, it is nonetheless quite festive–one of the things that made me fall in love with this entire genre of music to begin with.

So if you’re looking to get into Quebecois trad, Ici on fête would be an excellent place to start. Investigation leads me to find it only available to a limited degree–it’s on iTunes, but only on the Canada store, here. And if you want to order the album from Amazon, I’d strongly advise hitting Amazon.ca in particular, since the Amazon.com site has it at import prices. You’ll get it much more cheaply from Amazon.ca, here. (Note the slow delivery time. But also note that Amazon.com right now isn’t showing the album in stock at all.)

Quebec listeners can get it from Archambault digitally here as well as on CD. Renaud-Bray is also carrying the disc here.

Outside of Quebec though, your easiest bet will be to try to scarf an iTunes gift card for the Canada store and buy it that way. It’ll be a hard hunt, but if you can find it, your ears will be rewarded.

Quebecois Music

Album review: Ce monde ici-bas, by De Temps Antan

So as I’ve been gushing all over the place, this is the week that De Temps Antan release their brand new album, Ce monde ici-bas! And if you’ve read my post from earlier today, it should surprise you not in the slightest that yep, I very much like this album and I endorse its immediate purchase for anybody with any interest whatsoever in Quebecois traditional music.

Ce monde ici-bas

Ce monde ici-bas

This is DTA’s third album, and as often seems to be the case when a band reaches album #3, there’s a more mature, polished sound here. I can’t confirm this for sure yet because I haven’t seen credits for the disc, but on my first pass through I heard what sounded like several guest musicians. This stood out most clearly on the vocals–especially on track three, more on this–but I’m pretty sure I also heard some bass guitar and some extra fiddle in there as well. This took me to a musical place I’ve been to before when listening to La Bottine Souriante’s album J’ai jamais tant ri, the one where the DTA boys were all in La Bottine at the same time and so the album comes out sounding like DTA + a horn section. There’s no horn on this new album, but still, the overall size of the sound was close. This is not a bad thing in the slightest, but it was a bit startling when I’m used to hearing DTA all by themselves.

Track by track reactions behind the fold!

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Quebecois Music

Quebec band recommendations, round 2: De Temps Antan!

This being the last of my second round of recommendation posts for my top seven favorite Quebec trad bands. I’ve been specifically sitting on this one until now–because, ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, this one is for De Temps Antan, who are dropping a brand new album this very week!

Y’all know already of course that I’m a devoted Le Vent du Nord fangirl. But De Temps Antan’s boys are fighting it out hard with Genticorum’s for the coveted position of Anna’s Second Favorite Quebec band, in no small part because DTA features the double powerhouse punch of André Brunet on the fiddle (because of the small number of tunes I know how to play, two of them are his, I’m just sayin’) and Éric Beaudry (for many and varied reasons, all of which basically add up to because he’s Éric goddamn Beaudry, and Beaudry is French for awesome). Like Genticorum, DTA is a trio that does a hell of a job pretending to be a band much larger than they actually are. I can point at several reasons for this: Éric’s powerful bouzouki and guitar (especially the bouzouki; you haven’t heard a bouzouki being rocked out upon until you hear Éric playing his), how something about the combo of fiddle and accordion often tricks my ear into thinking there’s an extra fiddle in there just because of how the harmonies work, or how getting three guys going at once on podorythmie gives you an instant percussion section.

But big energetic vocals help, too. Pierre-Luc Dupuis has a rich, wry baritone that often makes him sound like he’s on the verge of breaking into laughter, while André brings in the high, clear end of the range and Éric has a way of sneaking up on you with smokier, subtler backup. If these boys’ voices were alcohol, I’d be putting Pierre-Luc down as a full-bodied port, André as crisp, sweet cider, and Éric as the smokiest of Scotch. And at the end of any DTA album, this pretty much means I’m well and thoroughly soused on harmony.

As of this week DTA has three albums to pick from, and I’ve got a review post on the way for the new one, Ce monde ici-bas. (Spoiler alert: I like it and you should buy it! Look out in particular for “Adieu donc cher cœur”!) If you were to pick up a single album of theirs to check ’em out, I’d definitely recommend getting that one.

But the two previous ones, À l’année and Les habits de papier, both have a great deal to recommend them. Here’s a handful of my favorite tracks from those albums:

On À l’année:

  • “Chère Léonore”, a delicious, dark-timbred slower song on which Éric sings lead, because this band’s motto appears to be “Let’s give Éric all the moody slower songs”. I approve of this as a general strategy.
  • “Buvons, Mes Chers Amis Buvons”, a drinking song that does fun things with interspersing vocals with instrumental bits. This is also one of the few things I’ve heard Éric sing lead on where he actually sounds cheerful.

And from Les habits de papier:

  • “La turlutte du rotoculteur”, the song that completely sold me on these guys. I’ve posted about this one before–starting off with layering in all three voices on a kickass turlutte, bringing in the feet, and finally kicking in to a fiery instrumental treatment of the same melody line for the second half of the song. Plus, finger work on the bouzouki, which ALWAYS makes me swoon. I mean, seriously, look at these guys go!

  • “Pétipétan” is serious bouncy fun, and a challenge to sing along with, at least for this Anglophone fangirl. Don’t quote me on this but I suspect it’s a challenge to sing along with for the Francophone fans, too. And, having seen the boys do this one live now, I have it directly from Pierre-Luc himself that the title translates to, in English, “Petipetan”. 😉
  • “La Fée des Dents” is a gorgeous, lovely waltz. That I can actually PLAY! We do this one pretty regularly in our session group, and I have great fun trying to make up harmony parts to the latter end of this track. The title translates to “Tooth Fairy”, and I’m given to understand that André wrote this one for his kid. (heart)
  • “Grand Amuseur de Filles” is a cappella, again with Éric on the lead vocals, and this one packs a punch. It’s extra fun to see them do it live, too, when André and Éric jump out of their chairs and start having a stepdancing stomp-off!

For my fellow Stateside listeners, DTA’s stuff is available for digital purchase on iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 stores both (though in the latter case, they don’t have the new album yet as of this writing, so you might need to keep checking back). But if you want to go with physical CDs, you should go straight to the the band’s own online store page and buy from them. That way they’ll get the most money. And do give them your moneys. Because goddamn, these boys can play!

Find ’em on Facebook or Twitter, and as always, tell ’em Anna the Piper sent you!

Quebecois Music

A guide to Quebec trad for English speakers

Internets, as you all know, I’ve been happily fangirling Quebec traditional music for a couple of years now, and quite a few of you have started to ask me questions about it. And because I like you, Internets, and I want to share with you the musical goodness, I’d like to present for you a Guide to Quebecois Traditional Music for English Speakers!

Q: What is Quebecois traditional music?

A: A very close cousin of Irish/Celtic trad. If you’re a fan of Irish or Scottish music, you’ll probably find Quebec trad very compatible to your tastes; there’s a lot of overlap between the two genres.

Q: What makes Quebec trad differ from Irish/Celtic/Scottish/etc.?

A: Three main differences, which are:

  1. Podorythmie. With most Celtic bands the percussion will usually be handled by a bodhran player, who may double up on shakers or bones. There may or may not be an actual drumkit depending on how far into rock the band in question slants. With a Quebec trad band, though, the percussion is almost always handled by someone who does podorythmie, the rhythmic footwork that’s a big signature sound for the genre.
  2. Call and response. Quebec trad is very heavily structured around call and response, where you’ll have whoever’s singing lead echoed by the rest of the band. Relatedly, you’ll find a great number of Quebec trad songs structured in such a way that the first line of a verse will be called, then responded, and then the verse will finish up with a chorus and then a second line which will then roll over into being the first line of the next verse. (This is a very helpful song structure when you’re a newbie to French and you’re trying to figure out how to sing the words!)

    Now, sure, call and response isn’t unknown in Celtic trad in general–but I’ve seen it be a LOT more common in Quebec trad. It makes the songs highly participatory and that’s one of the big reasons I love singing along to the songs so much.

  3. Turluttes. You’ll find a lot of Quebec trad songs will have a turlutte section, sometimes small, sometimes dominant, and sometimes as the entire song. Turluttes are when you get a singer or group of singers vocalizing a melody that in other traditions might be played with instruments. You’ll also hear this referred to as mouth music or mouth reels, similar to puirt à beul or lilting.

    As the Wikipedia link I’ve pointed at in the previous paragraph calls out, turluttes are built out of a set of specific phonemes–a lot of t and d and l and m sounds. They’re almost always up-tempo and joyous and great, great fun.

    A truly splendid example of turluttes in action can be found sung by Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer right over here, with bonus podorythmie solo in the middle.

Q: How is Quebec music similar to Irish/Scottish/Celtic music?

A: Lots of Quebec trad will be familiar to Celtic music fans just because there’s a rich heritage of tunes, jigs/gigues, reels, etc. There are some fun musical and stylistic differences that instrumentalists will notice–particularly how many Quebec tunes are often played “crooked”, doing interesting things to time signatures and varying up the rhythm. If you’re an instrumentalist you’ll want to listen for that.

Likewise, a lot of the topics of the songs will be familiar to Celtic music fans. Alexander James Adams has been often quoted (in particular by me!) as saying that the three main categories of Celtic music are Whiskey, Sex, and Death. This is also true of Quebec music, although from what I’ve seen in Quebec music, it’s more like Wine, Sex, and Death, with a side helping of Religion. (I’ve noticed quite a few songs involving shenanigans that involve priests, for example. 😉 )

Q: Do I need to be able to speak French to appreciate Quebec trad?

A: No! Certainly no more than you need to be a Irish or Scots Gaelic speaker to appreciate Celtic music, anyway. I find that studying a little bit of French enough to let me get an idea of how Quebec trad lyrics go enhances my appreciation of the songs considerably, but you don’t have to go to the lengths I’m going. A lot of the most active bands in the genre post lyrics to their websites, often in both French and English, and even if they only post the French lyrics that’s enough for you to throw the words through a translation engine.

And there’s fun stuff to be found in the lyrics, too. Plus if you do that, you get to be one of the Anglophones in a Quebec trad concert who can start snickering at all the best bawdy bits of songs!

Also, turluttes are language-agnostic!

Q: Enough overview! Who are some bands or artists I can check out?

The ones I’m most fond of are La Bottine Souriante, La Volée d’Castors, Galant, tu perds ton temps, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, Genticorum, De Temps Antan, and especially Le Vent du Nord!

And if you have trouble telling all those names apart, I can direct to you to this handy flowchart I made for that exact problem!

Quebec Band Flowchart

Quebec Band Flowchart

For a nice crossover of Celtic and Quebec fiddle styles, I also highly recommend Celtic Fiddle Festival, who feature André Brunet of De Temps Antan. There are also a couple of excellent albums done by André Marchand and Grey Larsen, specifically on the theme of crossover between Irish and Quebec music, and I recommend those too. You can find them here.

I will update this FAQ with new data as I think of it. I did overviews on my favorite bands a while back but I’ll be posting new ones as well, since several of the bands in question dropped new albums since I originally wrote those posts.

Any questions I haven’t covered here? Shoot ’em at me!

About Me, Photos, Quebecois Music

Two more fun pics of me and De Temps Antan

Dara put up a few posts of her own detailing her POV of our adventures in Harrison Hot Springs, including a loverly picspam of various things we looked at. Including a couple of shots off of her camera of me and the boys of De Temps Antan!

I particularly like this one, of my reaction when I got called out for being a double agent for Le Vent du Nord, since I was wearing their T-shirt:

LOL

Quebec Boys are Amused When I Explode from LOL

Go click over to Dara’s post to see the other one, of me and Éric Beaudry, current holder of the title of Anna’s Favorite Bouzouki Player from Quebec!