Music, Quebecois Music

Festival du Bois in Maillardville, BC, 3/3/2012

Day 3 of my and Dara’s Grand Four-Day Weekend of Marriage and Music was Festival du Bois!

I wanted to go to this pretty much as soon as I found out that there was an entire festival of French Canadian and Acadian music going on the very same weekend we were coming up for Le Vent–and, of course, it made utter sense that the concert was being held in conjunction with the festival in question! We wound up only going on Saturday instead of both days, but nonetheless, the one day turned out to be quite fun indeed.

The festival was held in Maillardville, a community in Coquitlam, one of the smaller cities in the greater Vancouver area. Maillardville apparently is also heavily Francophone, so Festival du Bois was a natural fit for it. It was also a short drive away from Geri’s place in Burnaby, as it turned out! She dropped us off at the park where it was taking place, and Dara and I wandered in for a lovely few hours of wandering around and having fun.

My main goal was checking out a band called Bon Débarras, who I’d originally noted as queued up to perform with Le Vent du Nord, but then that apparently fell through as their performance was shifted into the festival proper. But I’d listened to a few of their samples, and so was definitely interested in checking them out. Dara and I wound up getting to see them twice, once in the main performance tent and once in the smaller workshop tent. They’re a trio, and they’re quite lively; one of their guys, Dominic Desrocher, was a real live wire of a dancer. I couldn’t follow the vast majority of their lyrics, but on the other hand, they kindly took the time to translate some of their between-song banter at their second, smaller show in the workshop tent.

And I quite liked one song they did all about dancing a jig on the hood of the car that hit their dog. That was great fun, with the aforementioned M. Desrocher making howling dog noises and encouraging the audience to cut loose with same–amusingly enough, as Réjean Brunet had done at the Le Vent concert, they also made jokes about performing being ‘therapy’! Also, giggles for the band’s name meaning “good riddance”. From what I caught when they explained this in somewhat halting English, it’s meant in a positive fashion, which is cool! I wound up buying their album only a couple songs in on the first set of theirs we saw, and quite liked it as I listened to it today.

My other major goal for the festival was to find Dejah Léger, say hi, and watch her show too. She did a children’s show, which was very charming, especially with the help of her father-in-law running her “cranky”, this awesome lightbox with beautiful detailed cutouts that told the stories of some of the songs she did (cutouts which she had created, too!). Some of her songs were in English and some were in French, given that Dejah is herself American, but they were all nice indeed. And I was happy to introduce Dara to her as well! Ran into a couple of the other ladies from the QuebecNW mailing list as well, and was happy to accept their marriage-related congratulations. <3

(Those of you who are parents, or who might know people who like child-friendly music, consider getting Dejah’s album from CD Baby! Because Dejah is cool and her music is pretty. Tell her I sent you!)

Other highlights of the festival included:

  • Hearing random floating bits of French conversation all around us, which was pretty neat! Also, seeing all the craft and organizational booths in the main show tent, and particularly noting the ones promoting Francophonie in Maillardville.
  • Amusing ourselves at one tent where some guys had set up a log with a big two-person saw, and were calling for pairs of people to come up and cut a hunk off the log to see how fast it would take. Times were written on the hunks of log thusly cut. Dara and I clocked in at about 35 seconds, in no small part because I kept screwing up and pushing at my end of the saw rather than pulling! We thought our tally pretty sad, too, until we found somebody else’s abandoned log chunk marked 56 seconds.
  • Getting poutine, which was clearly obligatory, given that we were at a French Canadian music festival and all. The particularly giggleworthy part of this was that there was even a sign specifically pointing the way to said poutine, in big letters. 😀
  • We caught a brief part of the main stage performance by Quinn & Qristina Bachand, a couple of young BC-local musicians, who were performing with a couple other people on stage and who were quite good. If you’re thinking “wait, they’re Celtic musicians at a French music festival?”, I noticed that too, but then, Festival du Bois seemed cheerfully willing to bring in people who were in the general neighborhood of French Canadian, and Celtic is still in the neighborhood! (One of the other acts we didn’t catch, Tanga, was an Afro-Cuban act from Vancouver, though, so I dunno!) Dara quite liked Quinn & Qristina, though, so we wound up buying both of their albums on sale.
  • We got some tasty soft maple candy, which was a whole lot of tasty, and some hard maple candies as well. Because apparently, in addition to ALL THE AWESOME MUSIC, they make unbelievably tasty maple things in Quebec as well.
  • And as Dara documented over here, she got a hat that was WEARING A HAT. Well okay, it was actually a tea cozy, but it made an excellent hat as well!
  • Somebody was walking around in a beaver costume. Dara was sad that she did not get an opportunity to put her tea cozy hat wearing a hat on the beaver and take a picture.
  • Dara and I did show up with instruments, on the hope that the workshop tent would be actual workshopping, but mostly it turned out to be smaller-scale performances. Which was not as fun, but on the other hand, Bon Débarras did as mentioned give a fun second performance in that tent, and they spent a little time talking about podorythmie and making jokes about the ‘French leg’ going heel-toe, heel-toe, heel-toe while the ‘English leg’ tapped out counter rhythms. Hee.

So yeah, that was a nice amount of fun. I’m a little sad that we didn’t get a chance to come back on Sunday, but on the other hand, the weather was sucking more on Sunday afternoon and that would have been suboptimal for festival-going. All in all we turned out to get the right amount of fun. And I got great new music to listen to!

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