I’ve posted before, O Internets, about how my rampaging love for Quebec trad can be traced straight back to La Bottine Souriante when I saw them perform at the same show where I first saw Great Big Sea. (Little did I know at the time that that concert at Chateau Ste. Michelle was going to be the birthplace of two of my three biggest lifetime musical fandoms!) I have not, however, had the good fortune to see La Bottine in concert since, and I’d really like to see them with their current lineup.
But I ain’t expecting that to happen any time soon unless they show up in Vancouver. Because transporting a band that big is, I’m sure, logistically challenging even without asking them to cross the US border. (Bah.)
BUT! Even if I can’t see them in person, the Internets have now consoled me with the surfacing of a great video of an entire show they did on their recent tour to Mexico. Behold! (And for all the non-Francophones reading this, note that the band members do introduce the songs in English; there’s only a little bit of Spanish attempted at the beginning.)
And I gotta say, after watching this, I am convinced that Éric Beaudry has access to the same shoe-based arc reactor technology that powers the feet of Olivier Demers. ‘Cause I mean damn, people, when your feet are the entire percussion section for a band as big as La Bottine, you have some mighty rhythmic feet. (+10 as well for Éric’s intro to the second song he sings lead on! Of which he has two, and they are both awesome. Dude can sing. But I’ve said that before, too.)
Go! Clickie! And be careful if you’re listening to this by a desktop computer. You may find yourself in danger of foot-tapping all over your power supply. Well, for values of ‘you’ meaning ‘me’. 😉
I’ve been spending quite a bit of my musical time on tunes from the Quebecois repertoire, but every so often I get to remind myself that actually, y’know? I also play guitar. Especially when I hear a song like the delicious “Au rang d’aimer” by La Bottine Souriante, which I’ve been swooning over for ages. It’s pulled hard into the lead to become the first song from Quebec that I’ve been able to figure out how to play and sing at the same time, properly!
I used the Chord Detector app I’ve got on my iPhone to get an initial idea of the chords. Now, the app ain’t perfect, and I find that when I throw a song at it, it’s usually good for giving me the general ballpark–the right key and several of the right base chords. But then I need to go in and finesse it and figure out things like strum patterns, and where to plug in chords that might be missing.
This song’s delightful to play with, just because it requires a more delicate strum pattern than I’m used to playing. (‘Cause hi, right, I’m the girl used to playing the sorts of chords that are better fitting to boinging around the living room, playing along with the Great Big DVD and belting out “Mari Mac” at the top of your lungs, NOT THAT I DO THAT OR ANYTHING!) Don’t quote me on the key, but I think we’re dealing with D mix here. There’s a lot of F, D, Em, and G, with periodic loverly little bits of Em7 and C. And I THINK there’s an Am that pops in as a transition chord between D and Em on the third line of the verses, but I’m not a hundred percent sure of that.
Note also, if you play with these chords, the first and fifth verses start with D->G->D->G, but the rest of them go F->Em->D->G, as near as I can tell. Because the first and fifth ones are coming after the intro and bridge, and starting them with D instead of F makes the chord flow work better.
I’ve got the overall strum pattern down, though, I think! And I’ve even managed to memorize the words, and for the most part I even know what they mean–though there’s a line in the fourth verse that goes “C’était un soir un facsillant, en courtisant sa mise”, and for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out what the hell “facsillant” means. My google fu fails me. So did asking the La Bottine Souriante Facebook group I’m on, though one nice person from Quebec says she thinks it’s maybe an Old French word. Which would explain why Google Translate has no earthly idea what it means, and why I can’t find it in any of my usual online dictionary sources, either.
(Any French speakers out there who recognize this word, you want to clue me in, I’d be much obliged! I have even taken the drastic step of pinging the excellent gentleman who sings it, Éric Beaudry himself, to see if he can enlighten me. Given that I tried that in French, we’ll see if I managed to do so coherently. I make no guarantees. *^_^*;;)
Anyway though, here, lookit! I made a thing! This is a snippet of me playing with the chord progression, on the General, my big guitar (the Taylor 210). If you listen to the actual recording of the song (and you should, because goddamn, it’s pretty), there’s some mandolin in there. So I could make a case to myself for playing this on my little Ti-Jéan instead, but I dunno yet, the General’s deeper voice has a certain nice flavor to it too. Clearly, I shall have to try it on both instruments!
Every so often, I feel like I actually can play guitar. Tonight is one of those nights!
As I’ve written before, La Bottine Souriante has the distinction of being the first Quebec band I ever saw perform live, and I said a great deal about them on this post over here. Most of what I had to say there still stands, with some notable exceptions.
First and foremost, as of this writing, La Bottine’s discography has become available for digital purchase on both iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 store! So if you’re a US fan of Quebec music like me, your chances of finding a La Bottine album have now improved considerably.
Which of course brings me to the question of what album should you get? The answer to that’s going to depend on what era of La Bottine you want to investigate, since they seem to come in four overall eras to their sound. I tend to break La Bottine down into “Yves Lambert era” and “Eric Beaudry era”, both of which have their massive appeal to me.
Yves’ Lambert’s era is classic La Bottine, and saw the rise of their mighty, mighty horn section. M. Lambert’s era also saw such seriously impressive musicians as André Marchand and Michel Bordeleau being in the lineup. This era is well worth your time, and if you want to sample it, I’d highly recommend La Mistrine as a studio album at the height of the band’s power in that era. Or, En spectacle for a marvelous live performance. Especially the opening “Ouverture” track, which features what’s kind of the canonical La Bottine tune–Sheepskin and Beeswax, one of the ones I’m trying to learn. I LOVE how they fire this one up, with the rumble out of the bass, then layering in the feet and the melody, until at last the horns start punching in with syncopated goddamn glory and oh, it’s wonderful.
The Eric Beaudry era kicked in with the album J’ai jamais tant ri, and at least as of that album, La Bottine also had Pierre-Luc Dupuis singing a lot of the lead, as well as André Brunet’s fiddle firepower and occasional lead singing as well. All three of these boys have gone on to form De Temps Antan, of course–so that particular La Bottine album rather sounds like “De Temps Antan plus a horn section”. This is not a bad thing!
If you want to get an idea of what La Bottine sounded like as of that album, check out this YouTube fan vid. It’s somebody’s almost entire vid of a La Bottine concert, in which you get to see Eric, André, and Pierre-Luc all rocking it the HELL up. There’s a jumbotron. There’s crowdsurfing. It’s AWESOME.
Now, I tend to prefer classic La Bottine over current, but that said, Eric Beaudry IS right up at the top of the list of Quebec musicians for whom I want pretty much every note they ever recorded (he’s fighting it out with Olivier Demers for the top spot on that list!). As I’ve also mentioned before, any band with a Beaudry in it gets my immediate and undivided attention. M. Beaudry’s vocals are splendid, and he is an amazing bouzouki player. In fact, musically speaking, he is my current favorite bouzouki player, and I do not say this lightly–as anyone who knows I’ve been fangirling Alan Doyle for the last 13 years knows! So his contributions to La Bottine are not to be underestimated in the slightest.
So if you go with Beaudry-era La Bottine, get their most recent release, Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée. I have a full review of this album right over here. I am madly, madly I tell you, in love with “Au rang d’aimer”. I’m trying to learn that one on the guitar. And yes, it’s one of the tracks M. Beaudry sings lead on. You may now show me your lack of surprise faces, Internets. 😉
Also, I’ll add that if you want to track what happened to other members of La Bottine who are no longer in the band, the aforementioned Yves Lambert is still doing music, and he’s got excellent albums available here. Michel Bordeleau and André Marchand are both now in Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, deploying their massive vocal talent, and they’re also doing double duty as two of the members of Les Mononcles, where they’re doing instruments as well as vocals.
Continuing my quest this year to get to see as many Quebecois bands perform as possible, this week I finally had the pleasure of seeing De Temps Antan perform for the first time! I’ve gushed about these boys in blog and journal posts before, of course–but as always, getting to see a group in live performance is another order of magnitude above experiencing their recorded music, or online videos, or what have you.
I was particularly grateful for this chance to see them since the show was, as far as I know, kind of wedged in at the last minute. They’d been scheduled to do a mid-day performance in Kent, which I was sadly unable to make due to it being right smack in the middle of my workday. But booking fortune was kind and produced a one-set show at the Royal Room, a place I’d never been to, on Rainier Ave South. Dara and I had a bit of an adventure getting down there as miscommunication on my part of the proper address–and Google not being terribly helpful with the directions–caused us to overshoot and go to East Rainier Avenue South, instead.
Pro-tip for those of you who aren’t local: NOT THE SAME STREET.
But! All was well after all because we scooted in just under the wire. When we arrived, the boys of the band were still sound-checking, so we wound up not missing anything at all!
De Temps Antan only have two albums at this point, so it wasn’t terribly surprising that their single set was slanted in favor of stuff that appears on their second album, Les Habits de Papiers. A good many of the songs they performed were tune sets as well, showcasing André Brunet on the fiddle as well as Éric Beaudry’s prowess on guitar and bouzouki, with Pierre-Luc Dupuis chiming in on accordion or harmonica. Notable among the instrumentals was M. Brunet’s breaking out of a new waltz, which was lovely. I do fangirl me some Olivier Demers-brand violin, to be sure, but M. Brunet? Also a very respectable fiddler. Since De Temps are a trio and comparatively sparse on the instrumentation, it falls to each member of the group to pull as much vigor as possible out of his instrument. The result is a crackling energy that makes it very, very easy to forget that they do not, in fact, have more than three guys on the stage!
When it comes to instrumental prowess, though, with these boys I have to throw my affections over to M. Beaudry, and I’m not saying that just because I love me some bouzouki. Now that I’ve seen him do it live, I have all the more respect for what this man can do with a guitar and a zouk. I was particularly struck by his finger work on the guitar, swift, adroit runs that called his guitar’s deep ringing voice out and made it sing. And as for his bouzouki, wow. I’ve swooned before for what he whips out on the zouk in this video. Seeing him doing it live, and hearing that zouk roar in a way I have to date only heard out of my belovedest Dara and her Kohaku (heart), was amazing. Especially given his flying podorythmic feet, which he unleashes along with his hands on the instruments AND his singing. (I have just enough experience trying to sing and play at the same time on a zouk or a guitar, without even trying to throw my feet into the mix, that I admire the hell out of anybody who can pull that off!)
Vocally, all three members of the group are also very strong. M. Dupuis is the dominant vocalist, with a rich, expressive voice that he uses to great effect. I’ve read up some on his stint in La Bottine Souriante, and have seen some references to him having taken over briefly as La Bottine’s lead singer because of his style being a bit of a callback to the redoubtable Yves Lambert. I can buy that. M. Dupuis’s voice hits me in the same way M. Lambert’s always did, full and round. Maybe not as powerful, but that’s okay! I’ve always liked to say that M. Lambert’s voice hit me like 900-calorie cheesecake. M. Dupuis is maybe more like 600 calorie cheesecake. But the long and short of it is, cheesecake is still tasty, and Pierre-Luc can tear his way through a song.
M. Brunet is also a fine singer, though he doesn’t take over lead vocals as much as the other two. He mostly got to shine vocally on “Dominic à Marcel”, a ditty with something of a Southern twang to it–by which I mean, US Southern. The boys in fact referenced Mississippi, introducing this one! It’s a style that works when you throw it together with Quebecois music, to be sure.
Here, though, I also have to throw my affections over to M. Beaudry. He’s not as forthrightly expressive in his vocals as his bandmate, but he’s still got some strength and resonance to his voice, and I love, love, LOVE hearing him whip out “Grand Amuseur de Filles” or “Jeune et Jolie”.
I noted with pleasure that the boys presented us with not one but two new songs, including one M. Dupuis noted would be included on their next album (and yes, mes amis d’Internets, I perked up considerably at the magic words “next album”). One of these was the aforementioned waltz, but the other one was this, captured by Dara on video!
And much to my massive, massive delight, they closed with a one-two-three punch of my three favorite songs of theirs–“Grand Amuseur de Filles”, “La turlutte du Rotoculteur”, and then right into “Pétipétan”. The first delighted me immensely when André and Éric leapt up out of their chairs and had a bit of a standing stomp-off, grinning at each other. The second was great when all of us in the room started singing along on the turluttes. And the last, whee! This being one of the few De Temps songs I can actually do a bit of response on, I happily jumped in on that too!
We did get one encore, which was also great fun. Afterwards, Dara and I had the brief but happy pleasure of chatting a bit with M. Brunet, since we were able to tell him that HEY! We’d just seen him perform with Bernard Simard et Compagnie in Joliette! And with the help of Dejah and Devon Leger, I also chatted very briefly with M. Beaudry, expressing how Dejah was helping me with my French, how I was learning some of the differences between Quebec and Acadian French (h/t to brightbeak!), and how we’d been trying to transcribe the lyrics to “Grand Amuseur de Filles”. I’m pretty sure my nervous fangirl babbling got a bit ahead of M. Beaudry’s English–he leaned over at me a couple of times with this “quoi?” look on his face, and Devon Leger helpfully translated for me (many thanks to Devon for that)!
It was only yesterday though that I thought to check the new and updated De Temps Antan website, where I discovered that why yes, they had in fact finally gotten around to posting a lyrics sheet for the second album–including the song in question. Which, I suspect, contributed to M. Beaudry being confused at me. *^_^*;;
But! All in all, a great time, even given that I was a bit worn out from dental surgery recovery and a cold, a sub-optimal state to be in when you’re trying to watch a band whose music makes you want to get up and dance. (I settled instead for trying to practice a bit of my own podorythmie between tables). I really hope I get to see these boys perform again, and I very much look forward to their next album!
So, De Temps Antan, right? One of the cluster of fine Quebecois bands I’ve been a-swoon over this entire year, in no small part due to the excellent vocals and bouzouki of M. Éric Beaudry. These boys have a very handy PDF of lyrics posted on their site for their first album. There is not, however, an equivalent PDF for their second, current album, Les habits de papier!
Of the songs on this album, three have muscled their way onto my Francophone Favorites playlist: “La turlutte du rotoculteur”, “Pétipétan”, and “Grand amuseur de filles”. The first has no lyrics as it is a double firebomb of turlutte + bouzouki, fiddle, and harmonica action. <3 I found lyrics for the second, for which I am extremely grateful, given that the chorus is a machine-gun spray of syllables and I had to see them transcribed to begin to try to sing it!
You would know, however, that the one where M. Beaudry sings delicious lead, "Grand amuseur de filles", is the one I can't actually find any lyrics for at all! *^_^*;;
So, I told myself, here's a brilliant idea–let's see if I can listen hard to these lyrics and see if I can identify ANY WORDS IN THEM WHATSOEVER. And since I've gotten involved with other local fans of Quebecois music and we have our little Chanson et langue group going, we're seeing if we can transcribe the lyrics ourselves!
I played with this some today with the help of vixyish and eeyorerin, who reported to me that the third verse was basically talking about the singer trying to cheer up his sad, sick friend by hauling him off to a strip club, quote, “as you do”. Erin then informed me, and I quote, “I feel this entire song needs to be punctuated with eyebrow waggles, ‘as you do’, or ‘that’s what he said!'” (Which appears to be a very apt description of most of the songs that have gotten onto my aforementioned Francophone Favorites playlist. I keep getting all of the bounciest, stomping-est songs onto this list and then I find out what they mean and I’m all O RLY? >:D )
And I’m amusing myself mightily with the help of Dejah of the Chanson et langue group, who has way more French than I do, though she’s flailing almost as hard as I am on the latter verses of the song.
Here are a random sampling of phrases I was rather stunned I actually heard correctly, based on comparing with Dejah’s much better transcription of at least the initial verses:
Chanter la chanson de ma jolie maîtresse (sing the song of my pretty mistress)
Deux ou trois amants (two or three lovers) (see previous commentary re: O RLY? >:D )
Allons-y donc, allons aux cabaret! (let’s get to the cabaret!)
And I got several scattered other bits of phrases, like “faut la quitter” and “avec un jeune garçon”, and I haven’t yet confirmed but am pretty sure of having heard “je ne fais que pleurer” and “la fleur de la maisson”. Man, trying to transcribe words in a language you barely know is HARD and FUN and Dejah is right–doing this with music is way more entertaining than out of a textbook!
I have made some happy discoveries, and the first of them is this: I am not entirely hopeless learning things by ear. I kinda knew this already–I do, after all, I have a history of playing along with Great Big Sea, or Elvis, or now also Le Vent, and just picking out melody lines on whatever flute I’m playing. I’ve also found out in the last couple of sessions that I can also pick out a melody line on a tune if it’s a slow one.
For example, I haven’t looked at the sheet music for either “Foggy Dew” or “Arran Boat Song”, and yet I’ve managed to more or less stumble my way through both of those at recent sessions. They’re slow, and not terribly complex, and so hey, I was actually able to manage them!
Faster jigs and reels though are still beyond me. This may be a matter of just not having a big enough musical vocabulary yet to be able to reproduce what I’m hearing as soon as I hear it–or, rather, a big enough musical vocabulary to do it with my fingers on the flute. I can whistle along almost instantly, or even dum-da-deedle if I’m feeling like trying to be Quebecois-ish about it. But I haven’t made that connection in my brain yet between “I hear this” and “I can reproduce it on my instrument”.
The core skill’s got to be there, though. I can do it with slower tunes. In theory, surely therefore I can learn to do it with faster ones!
In the meantime, Éric Beaudry, in his capacity of “one of the lead singers of La Bottine Souriante”, has now joined Le Vent du Nord in flinging me songs that are demanding I play them NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. In particular, “Au rang d’aimer” on the new La Bottine album has pretty much parked itself in front of me and looked cute and expectant and unwavering, like Cync’s dog Kosha used to do in Kentucky!
So I went OKAY FINE, since this IS a song of one of the Beaudrys we’re talking about here, and first actually picked out the melody line on my piccolo–see previous commentary re: I can TOTALLY do this “by ear” thing, if it’s a slow enough song, and “Au rang d’aimer” is! This let me figure out though that this thing is totally in D mixolydian. The tonic of the melody line is D, but C is natural rather than sharp.
Thanks to throwing the song through a chord app I have on my iPhone, I was also able to figure out that there’s an awful lot of F in these chords, another marker of it being in D mix. Note: the chord app is pretty nifty; it takes recorded tracks in your iTunes library and flings you what chords it thinks are being played in it. From the songs I’ve flung through it so far, it does a fair to middlin’ job. Which is actually very, very good for my purposes, because it leaves enough wiggle room for me to exercise my ear some and figure out where it screwed up, and what the chords I actually want in there are.
Related to this same song, one of the lines in it that totally makes me swoon is “Je serai toujours ton serviteur”, which means “I will always be your servant”. I appear to have just enough of an ear now that I can tell when I totally screw up the pronunciation of “serviteur”–I keep wanting to say “servateur”! And I can’t tell if this is because I am an Anglophone, or if I’m an Anglophone from Kentucky who is totally drawling her infant French.
Dara says it would be hysterical if, in my efforts to learn to sing Quebecois French lyrics, I wound up sounding Cajun.
Here’s something I’ve come to learn in my explorations of current Quebecois trad bands: Éric Beaudry is apparently in half of them, or at least so it seems! And given my rapidly growing respect for Monsieur Beaudry’s musical prowess, this is as far as I’m concerned all to the awesome.
I’ve found references to him being in four bands to date. La Bottine Souriante and De Temps Antan I’ve already found and fallen in love with, but M. Beaudry is also involved with the bands Norouet and Ni Sarpe Ni Branche. Those two groups aren’t as high profile as La Bottine and De Temps Antan, so their music is harder for us in the States to find–but happily, Norouet’s album N2 is on iTunes and CD Baby.
“Norouet”, or so the Googles inform me, is slang for a northwesterly gale. It’s an excellent word, very much capturing the energy of the band while falling delicately upon the ear. This seeming contradiction of a gale and delicacy captures my overall impression of N2 as an album, as well.
N2 slants heavily instrumental, with over half the tracks being entirely without vocals. This is not a bad thing, though initially I found it a bit odd that their overall (instrumental, at least) sound reminds me a lot more of Solas or Altan from Celtic/Irish music than other Quebecois bands that boast M. Beaudry among their members. The distinct lack of footwork on several of the tracks throws me off, since I’ve trained my ear to listen for that now!