Browsing Tag

les charbonniers de l’enfer


Une chose merveilleuse

On my way home tonight I was listening to tracks off the album À la grâce de Dieu by the Charbonniers, and in particular, the song “Allons vidons”. Jean-Claude Mirandette was just getting started on the first verse when I had that delightful double-take reaction of HEY HEY STOP I UNDERSTOOD THAT! I backed up, played that bit again, and sure enough, the sentence “C’est dans notre village / Il y a un p’tit moulin” popped right out at me. “In our village there is a little mill”. It’s a tiny sentence to be sure, but I was inordinately proud of comprehending it.

It’s weird and wonderful to hear a whole sentence in another language, only to understand it just like it’s the language I grew up with. I’m still getting bits and pieces of songs piecemeal, but that I’m getting them in general gives me ridiculous amounts of glee. My main goal is still musical, i.e., to be able to understand the lyrics of all these awesome songs and therefore appreciate them more. Anything I get out of it for conversational purposes is really icing on the cake.

But that said, I was also very pleased to be able to construct this whole sentence all by myself when posting to Facebook: “Je lire les paroles en anglais et français, j’écoute les chansons en français, je peu à peu comprends plus et plus!” Which means, “I read the lyrics in English and French, I listen to the songs in French, bit by bit I understand more and more!”

A good chunk of that sentence did in fact come to me either straight out of songs or else from poking around on band websites. “Les paroles” I know as “the lyrics” from looking at the French edition of “J’écoute”, “I listen”, I swiped right out of the lyrics to “Écris-moi”. “Chansons”, “songs”, is all over the place in all the songs in my collection. “Plus et plus” I got out of the lyrics to “Le dragon de Chimay”.

I’m still also heavily using Google Translate–but sometimes I only have to use it to doublecheck gender of nouns or verb conjugation spellings, because some of the words are starting to actually pop into my brain on my own and I just need to doublecheck them. As opposed to having no idea what the words actually are. Progress! I has it!

So yeah! Plan to learn all the Quebecois trad by slow osmosis: proceeding nicely. 😀

ETA: userinfodesperance, who is a wise and clever wordsmith apparently in more than one language, advises me that the proper first person singular conjugation for “lire” is “je lis”. This, children, is why you always ask for language help from people who either speak the language or who have studied it better than you have! Also, this is an extremely important verb for a writer and book geek to know!


Memoire et Racines is GO!

I just doublechecked the Memoire et Racines site, and see to my massive, massive delight that Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer do, in fact, have a presence on the schedule on the 28th–the day I’m targeting for userinfosolarbird and me to be there! Which means I will get to see them!

Seriously, seriously excited by that! Aside from the boys of Le Vent, the Charbonniers are the Quebec band who’ve most grabbed my attention, just because I love their vocals on their live album so very, very, very much. I’m going to have to do a marathon listen to all of their albums now, just to make sure I’m briefed on the stuff they’re most likely to perform.

Also helpful: it looks like events don’t get started until noon, which will give plenty of time to get up there in the morning from Montreal. And now I’ve bought day passes for Saturday the 28th for myself and Dara! userinfoframlingem, if you’re reading this, and you’re still up for the festival, you might want to go ahead and snag a ticket for yourself–the site was giving me messaging indicating these tickets are in high demand!

Ditto to userinfolyonesse if you have interest in joining us!

About Me, Music, Quebecois Music

Further arrangements for the Canadian Adventure!

Just snagged weekend passes for Dara and me to the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival, the big festival that was our main reason for going to St. John’s to begin with–even if we’ll be skipping out on it on August 4th to scamper up to Torbay for Great Big Sea instead. 😀 We figured screw it, we’ll just get passes for the whole weekend anyway so we’ll be able to wander in and out at whim. Now I just need to see a full schedule for who’s playing when, since I have particular interest in seeing The Once and the Dardanelles.

Meanwhile, keeping a sharp eye on the Memoire et Racines site, waiting for tickets to be on sale for that too so I can snag passes for Dara and me for July 28th, the Day of Podorythmie! Priority interest will be with Galant Tu Perds Ton Temps and the Charbonniers, but really, my little fangirl heart is desperate to know if I get to see Le Vent du Nord twice in one year.

And speaking of Dara and me in Quebec, side note to either userinfoframlingem or userinfoscrunchions–if either of you might be interested in hosting a tiny house concert for Dara, let us know, hey? Dara’s got one for Toronto and one for Moncton, and if she could do one in Montreal, that’d make it a TOUR. ;D

And hell, for that matter, anybody following me in St. John’s, if YOU want to host Dara for a teeny house concert, we’ll have way more time to play with there than we will in Montreal! Talk to us if you want to host a Cascadian Supervillain with her Bouzouki of Mass Destruction!


Further musical planning for the Great Atlantic Canadian Adventure!


Keeping a hawk’s eye on the tour Calendar on just paid off. Looks like they ARE booked to play on the 28th at Memoire et Racines, the weekend that Dara and I will be in Quebec! Which means that the priority of getting to that festival for a day trip on the 28th just shot up to CRITICAL. 😀 Because yeah, I need me another Le Vent du Nord show STAT, and I especially want to see how they work a Francophone crowd. Also, it would be sporting of me to give them another fighting chance at my musical affections, given that Great Big Sea will be steamrollering over everything else once Dara and I reach St. John’s in August.

I also note with huge delight that Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer’s tour schedule ALSO shows July 28th (and the 29th, but the 28th is the pertinent date here). Which means that ideally I’ll get to see them too! They better not be scheduled opposite Le Vent, or else I shall be quite sad! Now all I need is to determine whether Galant Tu Perds Ton Temps is also booked on the 28th, to complete the trifecta of awesome–though really, if I get Le Vent and the Charbonniers in the same day, that’s quite a bit of awesome right there and that may be enough all by itself for me to explode from squee. 😀

(Special side message to userinfoframlingem! You still in for this? Let me and Dara know! The Festival’s official full program goes online on June 14th and I’ll be getting Dara and me tickets, I want to make sure our plans can still align!)

Quebecois Music

Montreal chimes in on the Great Canadian Adventure!

HEL-LO, the Montreal portion of the Great Canadian Summer Adventure just got way, WAY more interesting!

I have had THIS brought to my attention–most recently by Monsieur de Grosbois-Garand, that fine gentleman who gave me the nifty flute lesson. I’d already discovered it poking around various band schedules to see if anything fascinating might crop up that could line up with my and Dara’s trip. But now, after seeing a promo pic go up on Le Vent du Nord’s Facebook page and then poking around on the actual site for the festival, I see that not only Le Vent will be involved, but ALSO the Charbonniers and Galant Tu Perd Ton Temps.

This, mes amis d’Internet, is extremely goddamn relevant to my interests, is what this is. 😀

But augh the site for the festival appears to be considerably north of Montreal, at least 40 minutes’ drive and as long as 2 hours by transit. Transit seems right out as an option.

HEY userinfoframlingem and userinfoscrunchions! Don’t suppose either of you would be up for playing native guide and helping userinfosolarbird and me get to this thing, probably on the 28th as a target date? ‘Cause if I have a shot at seeing ANY of these bands live while we’re in Montreal, I am ALL. OVER. THAT. 😀 This might be my only shot at all to see the Charbonniers or the Galant girls!

Quebecois Music

Quebecois band recommendations: Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer!

The Charbonniers stand out very, VERY strongly against the rest of my Quebec boys on the grounds that they specialize in the two big things that I love the most about Quebecois traditional music: the mouth reels, and the podorythmie! They are entirely a cappella, and so this is ALL these guys do. It’s like they are a concentrated blast of French Canadian AWESOME.

We’ve got five gentlemen here, a bit on the older side but all with very, very strong voices. Their two (and they have TWO!) podorythmie guys, Michel Bordeleau and André Marchand, have the distinction of being former members of La Bottine Souriante–and Michel in particular has a distinctive enough voice that I’ve pegged him now on earlier La Bottine tracks. All five of the Charbonniers take turns singing lead, so all of them get a chance to show off the character of their voices, though.

I’m a big fan of M. Bordeleau’s footwork, but I’ve got to say that of the various gents’ voices, I’m favouring Jean-Claude Mirandette’s the most. He’s got a beautiful tenor voice that is shown off to great advantage on several of the tracks on their live album, which I’m about to get to now!

Hands down and no contest, their live album, En personne, is my favorite of their work. They’re good in the studio and I have several of their tracks on repeat play, but they are an order of magnitude more vigorous in the live album’s performance. I’ve been playing the hell (AHEH–you did translate their name, didn’t you?) out of this album for weeks now, and they’ve been leading the charge in getting me more interested in translating Quebecois French lyrics so that I can try to understand them myself, as proper words rather than ‘pretty noises the nice men are making’, and sing along.

Three very excellent live vids from this performance are up on the LinkTV site: “Yes Very Well” (see previous commentary re: M. Mirandette, who takes lead on this one, and also note M. Bordeleau on the left making with DANGEROUS footstomping), “Sur La Vignelon” (where I believe Monsieur Normand Miron is taking the lead on this, and he too has a very distinctive voice), and last but MOST DEFINITELY not least, “Les Turlutes”, where the boys tear right through one gigantic chain of turluttes. XD I’ve posted about this last vid before–look in particular for the podorythmie stomp-off in the middle!

All three of those songs are among my repeat plays off of En personne, but the Turlutes track is very, VERY high on the list just because of how much the Charbonniers are getting into the performance in that video. They’re clearly having such great fun that I cannot help but enjoy watching them–and you can see glimpses of the audience really getting into it too!

I’m given to understand that the physical CD of this concert comes with a DVD, and I plan to order this ASAP. The album IS available electronically on iTunes, but it’s not on Amazon MP3–and I’d recommend you order the CD anyway so that you can get the DVD too, if at all possible!

The rest of the Charbonniers’ discography does also appear to be available on iTunes, though. Most of the tracks on En personne come off the album called , and you can really tell, comparing them, how much more vigorous the live album is. So while that album certainly isn’t bad, if you wanted to get a studio Charbonniers album instead I’d recommend either À la grâce de Dieu or their most recent one, Nouvelles fréquentations. The more recent one is notable for having less of a trad emphasis; in fact, according to this link that went up on Facebook earlier today, it’s actually up for an award for Best Contempary for the 2011 Canadian Folk Music Awards! I like the other studio album better just because it has more of a trad bent, but this one’s good too; it very much reminded me of the Nylons, who y’all remember were the group that did that awesome a cappella version of “Kiss Him Goodbye” many years ago. Bonus LOLs on this album for having a French version of “In the Jailhouse Now”, which I know from the movie O Brother Where Art Thou?.

The Charbonniers’ site does NOT have links off to buy their albums that I can see, so if you want to order physical copies, your best bets are probably going to be or or

Quebecois Music

Lessons in French lyrics

It’s probably not an academically approved way to learn a language, and the ultimate result will probably not be a working vocabulary I can use in everyday conversation, but I gotta say: it’s great fun trying to translate Quebecois trad lyrics word by word and phrase by phrase. It’s like the songs are in CODE, and I have to break the code!

And so far I have learned the following things:

One, like most Celtic music, Quebecois trad falls into the three general categories of Whiskey, Sex, and Death. And many songs will fall into all of these categories at once.

Two, there are a surprisingly large number of ducks in these songs. This is not so strange in a song about hunting, but in a song about a wedding night?! I pointed userinfoeeyorerin at the Charbonniers’ “Lundi Mardi Jour de Mai“, and she explained it was a song about a wedding, and then promptly went “buh?!” when she realized the happy couple had ducks right next to their bed. Quackez-vous, baby! Quackez-vous.

Three, French makes even not-work-safe phrases like ‘va te faire’ sound awesome in front of a 69-piece orchestra. Look it up, Internets! And then just imagine the English equivalent in front of an orchestra!

Four, some tiny bits of vocabulary I haven’t hung out with since college are suddenly trying to get back in touch. Why hello there, pronouns! How’s it going, conjugation of être? And you guys have brought me a few more verbs, too! How nice of you!

And now, Internets, I give you a sampling of critical verbs I am picking up from my study of the lyrics of Le Vent du Nord, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, and La Volée de Castors!

  • être: to be
  • avoir: to have
  • tuer: to kill (useful for all songs in the Death category)
  • aimer: to love (category Sex)
  • boire: to drink (category Whiskey)
  • jouer: to play
  • chanter: to sing
  • danser: to dance

So yeah. I’m still at the point of most of these lyrics parsing in my brain as ‘blah blah blah’ (only prettier than that, because, y’know, French), but comprehendible phrases are starting to pop out at me. Like ‘rejoindre mon bataillon’, or ‘ouvrez, ouvrez la porte, mon père, si vous m’aimez’.

(Which is also in a fun song about a girl who apparently thinks nothing of freeloading off a young captain who takes her to a fancy hotel in Paris and wines and dines her. And she fakes her own death, and after three days begs her father to let her out of the tomb.

Either that, or else she’s a zombie. I’m not sure which!)

So yeah. Maybe not a working vocabulary, but if you need somebody to sing about what an asshole the son of the king is for shooting a shepherdess’ white ducks? I’ll be your girl!