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quebecois music

Quebecois Music

Album review: Têtu, by Le Vent du Nord

Têtu

Têtu

There are certain phrases that hold massive magical power with me, people. “Great Big Sea is coming to town”, for one. “Let’s go out for sushi”, for another. “I just read and loved your latest book,” that one’s a contender. My favorite over the last couple of years, though, is hands down “a new album by Le Vent du Nord”. Têtu is album number eight for mes gars, and the sixth one with the lineup of Nicolas Boulerice, Olivier Demers, Simon Beaudry, and Réjean Brunet (counting four studio albums, the live album Mesdames et messieurs, and my beloved Symphonique)!

You may take it as read at this point that yeah, I’m going to adore anything these boys do. That goes without saying, since I’ve spent a whole lot of energy here on my blog and on social media not being able to shut up about them. But when they drop a new album, I get to actually back up my fangirling with evidence. I get to talk about not only adoring the music of this band, but why I adore it, too. And despite this post I made earlier today, I do not really have the French vocabulary yet to talk properly about this album. So I’m going to do it in English.

Overall picoreview first! This is the longest Le Vent album yet, with a total of 15 tracks, and there’s a whole lot to love with each one. After all the time these boys have spent playing together, they’ve pretty much got this down to an art and a science, and it shows here. Têtu is a tight, expert production, one in which the joy of the music shines through on every note. If you’re a fan of this band, you’re going to relish this album. If you’re not a fan yet, I submit for consideration that this would be an excellent album to use as your first introduction to them. Instrumentally and vocally, les gars are at the top of their game. And there are particularly high quantities of Simon Beaudry singing lead on things, and that’s always a good thing.

And now, track by track commentary behind the fold!

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Quebecois Music

Pour mes amis du Quebec!

(I just posted this to Facebook, where most of the Francophones I know are most likely to read me. But because I am a completist, and because I want to save this for later, I’m posting it here too!)

Aujourd’hui je veux pratiquer mon français! Attendez! Ce sera longue. 😉

Vous pouvez demander, mes amis d’Internet, pourquoi une femme américaine et anglophone, aime tellement la musique traditionnelle du Québec. J’écris beaucoup sur ça déjà en anglais, mais ça, c’est facile. Aujourd’hui je veux écrire sur ça en français!

La première chose: je pense qu’il est bon d’apprendre d’autres cultures. Les Américains, nous ne faisons pas souvent ça comme nous devrions. Les gens du Québec sont nos voisins, et ils partagent l’Amérique du Nord avec nous. C’est bon à connaître vos voisins. Et la musique et la langue sont deux voies merveilleuses à le faire.

En particulier, il a été mon honneur et mon plaisir à rencontrer plusieurs musiciens québécois. Ceci me donne les visages, les noms, et les gens vivants. Cela rend réel. Et je pense, ces gens, ils sont gens splendides. Je veux respecter et apprécier eux.

(Et c’est un signe de mon respect que je m’excuse à Olo et André et Éric quand mon français et poche. 😉 Je ne peux pas m’exprimer en français parlé, pas encore. Je dois travailler de m’exprimer en français écrit. J’apprends encore!)

La deuxième chose: je suis un écrivain. J’aime des mots. J’aime des langues. Et une nouvelle langue entière–c’est un nouveaux voie de voir le monde. Il y a magique dans ça. Magique pour un lecteur comme moi-même, de voir le monde. Et pour un écrivain, de parler du monde.

Seriéusement, savez-vous comment mon cerveau s’éclaire quand je pense de tous les livres de SF québécois que je n’ai pas lu encore? Toutes les histoires que je pourrais dire si je maîtrise la langue? 😀

Et la troisième chose, et véritablement, la chose plus importante–la musique? C’est magnifique. Elle parle à mon cœur. Elle parle à mes pieds et les incite à danser. Elle parle à mes mains et les incite à jouer les tounes. Et elle parle à ma voix et l’incite à chanter.

Pour ça, j’aime tellement la musique traditionnelle du Québéc. Oui, je suis américaine–mais pour cette musique, un part de moi devient française.

Merci pour ça, les gars. <3

Quebecois Music

Fun with tunes and whistles

Dusty Strings is a dangerous place!

Any acoustically-oriented musician in the Seattle probably already knows this, of course–and I myself have mentioned this before. But it was driven home to me again this past weekend, when Dara and I went in to get her a proper shoulder strap for the Godin A5 fretless bass we finally got her as a late Solstice present!

This is a sexy, sexy bass, you guys. But also surprisingly heavy! So we wanted to make sure to get a strap that could support its weight and not kill Dara’s shoulder while she plays it. We fully expected Dusty Strings would provide, and they did indeed. We got her a nice leather strap with a padded section for her shoulder.

But what I did not expect was that a blackwood whistle made by Sweetheart would leap into my fingers and go “HI I’M COMING HOME WITH YOU.”
One of these, specifically. Dusty Strings had two of them, one in rosewood and one in blackwood, and since I’ve been more interested in whistles lately I started playing around with them while Dara experimented with straps.

The rosewood didn’t seize me. But the blackwood did, with some surprising clarity and power to its tone. And wow, it carried well in Dusty String’s instrument room. I could see this being an instrument I could use to make myself heard in a room full of fiddlers and accordion players. Maybe not a session cannon–I’m not that powerful a player–but perhaps a session pistol.

Here’s some shots of what the instrument looks like, side by side in a couple of them with my carbon fiber whistle for comparison! You can see these pics directly on Flickr here.

And here’s what the instrument sounds like. I did a few snippets of recording with my phone last night, playing around with bits of “Ciel d’Automne”, one of my favorite tunes by André Brunet, who as I’ve said before writes lovely flute-friendly tunes.

First, this is me doing the tune on my small D carbon fiber flute. Because while I am having fun learning whistles, I’m still way more comfortable on a flute. And I wanted to show this for a comparison of tonality as well.

Second, this is my carbon fiber D whistle.

Last but not least, here’s the blackwood whistle! There’s better clarity here than on the carbon fiber whistle–possibly because this thing is a bit heavier as well as being wider in diameter. So the feel of it in my hands is closer to what I expect with a flute, and I don’t have to work as hard to figure out what amount of air to put through it.

So this is all fun and I’m going to greatly look forward to bringing this new whistle to a session!

And if you want to hear “Ciel d’Automne” in all its full La Bottine Souriante glory, go find their album Xième, which was also released in the States under the name Rock and Reel. This has the distinction of being the first André Brunet tune I ever fell in love with, so it’s got a special place in my heart!

Quebecois Music

Le Vent du Nord at the Rogue, Vancouver, BC 2/23/2015

As you know, O Internets, in the ongoing dearth of Great Big Sea shows in my life, I have turned to the joy and consolation of the principle of “Any Band With a Beaudry gets me across the border”. Which of course means mes gars of De Temps Antan–who last year broke my personal record of “How many times I visited Canada in one year to see the same band”–and most definitely, Le Vent du Nord!

By now the Rogue in Vancouver has a very warm place in my heart, since I’ve seen both Le Vent and De Temps Antan there twice each. This time around the venue was not set up with tables, which surprised me! But Le Vent did sell the place out, so it does not surprise me that they wanted to get as many people in there as possible. And most importantly, they did leave space for us to boing by the stage as we liked. That’s important, you know.

As for the show itself–it’ll surprise exactly no one that I enjoyed myself immensely. Particularly because this show included five, count ’em, five brand new songs that’ll be on the forthcoming new album, AND because we got the rare and unexpected treat of Olivier Demers taking a break from his usual masterful fiddling to demonstrate that he also plays guitar. AND: “Papineau”, a multi-layered turlutte that showcases all four of the boys’ voices to splendid effect, is now officially one of my top favorite Le Vent songs and that album isn’t even OUT yet. Everyone was in excellent voice and high spirits, band and audience alike, and by the end of the proceedings we had quite the crowd dancing around to “Au bord de la fontaine”. It was AWESOME.

In-depth show proceedings behind the fold!

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Quebecois Music

Yet another De Temps Antan road trip: Operation SWING!

Let it be officially noted: De Temps Antan has now officially COMPLETELY STOMPED all over Great Big Sea’s record for “Most number of times in one year that Anna has gone north over the border for the express purpose of seeing a band”–because they’re coming back again to BC in November. And I’ll be scampering up there for two, count ’em, two shows!

They’re hitting the Rogue again, which y’all may recollect was where they played this past February after Festival du Bois, a show at which many delightful shenanigans were had! AND they’re going to Cumberland, to hit the very same teeny tiny venue where last I saw my boys of Le Vent du Nord.

Because I mean honestly, if my Quebec boys keep wanting to come to BC so often, it just behooves me to scamper up there to see them, as much as my available time off will allow. As I have said before, there are critical principles here of Bands With Bouzouki-Wielding Beaudrys to uphold here! Especially given Great Big Sea’s until-further-notice hiatus. A girl’s gotta get in her bouzouki SOMEHOW.

This will be a rather more complex road trip, though! Dara will be coming up with me for the show at the Rogue, but then taking the train back while I proceed on to Cumberland. Seattle friends Dejah and Michelle are also eying hitting the Rogue show, and there’s a strong possibility that Vancouver-based friends may be showing up at the Rogue as well. And in between shows I’ll be buckling down for hardcore writing work, with periodic outbursts of practicing, because you better believe I’m coming up there with flutes.

And it pleases me immensely to be gathering together folks from both Great Big Sea fandom AND Quebec trad fandom. Just call me Anna the Piper, Rallier of Fandoms, and Instigator of Vertical Movement and La Danse Verticale. 😀

I’ve already gotten time off approved for these shenanigans, and have elected to take the entire week of November the 10th off. Which will give me plenty of time to get home after the show on the 12th, and decompress over the following weekend. And post the obligatory trip reports and pictures.

And this time? THIS TIME I will not forget Jean-Claude. It is important, yea, VITAL I TELL YOU, to not forget your mammoth on road trips to see bands from Quebec. It is KNOWN.

Quebecois Music

De Temps Antan in Qualicum Beach, BC 8-2-2014

This weekend I engaged in my lightning-strike road trip up to Canada and back–specifically, to Qualicum Beach to attend a music workshop, house concert, and post-concert session, featuring my boys of De Temps Antan!

Which meant I got up at 4:30am on Saturday morning and spent pretty much all of the morning in transit in order to get to Qualicum in time for the workshop. And I spent pretty much all of Sunday in transit home. But the time in between? Stupendous levels of awesomeness, and worth every minute of the hours I spent on the road and on ferries! For the chance to learn more tunes from André Brunet, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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Quebecois Music

And now, what happens when a Quebecois trad fangirl is on pain meds

She comes up with this, is what! Because I figured that if I was going to whine about my mouth hurting from the dental adventures this past week (spoiler alert: sinus infections that spread over to your teeth are not fun), I could at least whine about it in French, and set it to lyrics.

The result? Une petite chanson qui s’appelle “Ma bouche est malheureuse”!

Ma bouche est malheureuse, oh guai! Ma bouche est malheurese! (bis)
Mon dentiste a travaillé et j’ai mal aux dents
De deedle deedle dum deeda deedle deedle ow day

Mon dentiste a travaillé, oh guai! Mon dentiste a travaillé! (bis)
J’ai mal aux dents et j’n’peux pas jouer de la flûte
De deedle deedle dum deeda deedle deedle en calisse! day

J’ai mal aux dents, oh guai! J’ai mal aux dents! (bis)
J’n’peux pas jouer de la flûte, le flûteau, la même chose!
De deedle deedle dum deeda deedle osti day

J’n’peux pas jouer de la flûte, oh guai! J’n’peux pas jouer de la flûte! (bis)
Le flûteau, la même chose, et j’n’peux pas chanter les chansons
De deedle deedle dum deeda deedle tabarnak!

J’n’peux pas chanter les chansons, oh guai! J’n’peux pas chanter les chansons! (bis)
J’n’peux pas boire le vin, j’n’peux pas avoir la bouteille
De deedle deedle dum deeda deedle osti en calisse!

J’n’peux pas boire le vin, oh guai! J’n’peux pas boire le vin!
J’n’peux pas avoir la bouteille si mon dentiste dois travailler
De deedle deedle dum deeda deedle char de marde!

Si mon dentiste dois travailler, oh guai! Si mon dentiste dois travailler (bis)
Donnez-moi le Vicodin et me réveille quand c’est fini
De deedle deedle dum deeda deedle deedle zzzzzzzzzzzz

I shall soon be following this up with “La fille joyeuse et son mammouth”. Because Jean-Claude requires a song. REQUIRES, I tell you.