Canadian Quebecois band Le Vent du Nord has been busy lately with touring throughout the USA and a collaboration album with their colleagues De Temps Antan titled Notre Album Solo. Territoires is the band’s ninth album and it is another masterful work.
Le Vent du Nord combine a modernized vision of traditional
Quebecois roots music with evocative Celtic music. The five musicians deliver
dazzling instrumental musicianship, wonderful arrangements and the classic Quebecois
call and response vocals and foot tapping beats. The group also uses musical
instruments that are not typically found in Quebecois music, the hurdy gurdy
and the bouzouki.
“We’ve really added a bit of groovy stuff to this album,” says fiddler André Brunet. “Several songs have a riff with a bouzouki and bass. We’ve left things more open, skipping the answers in the traditional call and response sections and putting a bit of effects on the lead vocal. The sound turned out really rich.”
The current lineup includes Nicolas Boulerice on vielle à roue (hurdy gurdy), piano and vocals; Simon Beaudry on bouzouki, guitar and vocals; Olivier Demers on fiddle, bombarde, guitar, foot tapping and vocals; Réjean Brunet on bass, melodeon, bombarde and vocals; and André Brunet on fiddle, foot tapping and vocals.
Le Vent du Nord and De Temps Antan – Notre Album Solo (La Compagnie du Nord, 2018)
Two of the greatest acts in the Quebecois music scene, Le Vent du Nord and De Temps Antan, got together to record Notre Album Solo (Our Solo Album). It’s a delightful collection of recreated traditional music from Quebec (Canada) along with new pieces and some Celtic music elements.
You’ll find outstanding vocal work, including entertaining call and response vocals, foot percussion, fiddles, accordion, hurdy gurdy and more.
Notre Album Solo is a tribute to the Quebec traditional music revival that has been ongoing for the past decades. The two bands share tradition and family. Two members of each band have a brother in the other.
The CD booklet includes lyrics and song descriptions in French and English.
The artists featured in Notre Album Solo include Éric Beaudry on vocals, bouzouki, guitar; Simon Beaudry on vocals, bouzouki, guitar; Nicolas Boulerice on vocals, hurdy gurdy, piano; André Brunet on fiddle, foot tapping, vocals; Réjean Brunet on basses,button accordion, jaw harp, piano, vocals; Olivier Demers on fiddle, foot tapping, vocals, guitar, mandolin; Pierre-Luc Dupuis on button accordion,harmonica, jaw harp, vocals; and David Boulanger on fiddle, vocals.
Notre Album Solo presents masterful performances by Le Vent du Nord and De Temps Antan, celebrating Quebec’s effervescent Francophone culture.
On Horizons, Canadian band Vishtèn continues to explore Acadian roots music. The trio creates tantalizing contemporary folk dance music that incorporates Canadian and Celtic traditional music elements such as its signature foot percussion and mouth music, fiddle, guitar, accordion, mandolin, flutes, piano, Irish bodhrán, and jaw harp; as well as well as modern musical instruments such as the electric guitar.
The lineup includes Emmanuelle Leblanc on octave mandolin, whistles, bodhràn, foot percussion, jaw harp, dance and vocals; Pastelle LeBlanc on accordion; and Pascal Miousse on fiddle, guitar and vocals.
Guitarist and bouzouki player Simon Beaudry is from Saint-Côme, Québec. Simon grew up surrounded by traditional music. His maternal grandfather is well known in the area for his repertoire of songs and his paternal grandfather Joseph Beaudry (Tido) is a fiddler. Simon’s father sings and plays guitar and his brother Eric performs with La Bottine Souriante.
Simon has been playing and singing since the age of fifteen and as well as being influenced by the traditional music of Quebec .
Olivier Demers is an accomplished violin player and multi-instrumentalist with a history in classical and Quebecois folk music. He has performed with L’Orchestre des Jeunes Laval-Laurentides as well as many chamber music ensembles, and, in addition, has sung with the Chorale de la Basilisque Notre-Dame de Montreal.
Olivier also has freelanced with the award-winning French-Canadian band La Bottine Souriante, and toured in Belgium with Musa Dieng Kala, from Senegal. He has participated in numerous recordings.
In 2001, he teamed up with Nicolas Boulerice to produce a duo recording, which was the genesis of acclaimed Quebecois band Le Vent du Nord.
Oliver Schroer was born June 18, 1956 in Toronto, Canada.
Oliver Schroer was a unique fiddler/composer whose musical explorations took him far beyond his traditional Canadian roots into the realms of jazz, Scandinavian, Balkan, and Asian music. He melded those elements into a unique and recognizable style of his own: lyrical, fractal, a continuously twisting thread.
Schroer composed over 1,000 pieces and recorded over a dozen albums. He also produced various albums for the Somerset label, two of which went Gold. He also did soundtrack work. Schroer’s playing was heard on the award winning television series Angels in America and on Lemony Snickett, a Series of Unfortunate Events.
He performed across North America and Europe with a wide variety of top acts in venues ranging from intimate clubs to New York’s Lincoln Center. He was a featured guest on virtually every leading Canadian national radio show, and was the subject of numerous special broadcasts
Oliver Schroer’s album, Camino, chronicled the Camino de Santiago – a 1000-kilometer ancient pilgrimage through France and Spain that ends in the heart of Galicia – Santiago de Compostela.
Oliver Schroer died July 3, 2008 in Toronto, Canada.
Jigzup (Big Dog Music, 1993)
Whirled (Big Dog Music, 1994)
Stewed Tomatoes (Big Dog Music, 1996)
Celtica (Avalon Records, 1998)
O2 (Big Dog Music, 1999)
Restless Urban Primitive (Big Dog Music, 2001)
A Million Stars (Big Dog Music, 2004) Camino (Big Dog Music, 2006) Celtic Devotion (Avalon Records, 2006) Hymns and Hers (Big Dog Music, 2007)
Smithers (Big Dog Music, 2007) Freedom Row (Borealis, 2010) Enthralled, with Nuala Kennedy, (Borealis, 2012)
Trained as a pianist, Nicholas Boulerice has experimented with many genres of music on the keyboard. A fascination with the unusual led him in 1997 to the ancient European stringed instrument known as the hurdy gurdy, which he subsequently studied in Ireland and France. He is now proficient at both playing and building hurdy-gurdies, having handcrafted the ones he currently plays.
Nicolas toured throughout North America from 1998 to 2002 as a member of the neo-traditional bands Ad Vielle Que Pourra and Montcorbier, whose repertoires included the music of both France and Quebec.
In addition to his talents as instrumentalist, Nicolas is a gifted vocalist known for captivating audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
Polished, heartfelt and spirited, Matapat played, danced and sang their tradition with humor and energy. They were well known for their charismatic and engaging performances.
Benoit Bourque, one of Canada’s finest step dancers, was cone of the founders. He played accordion and provided the percussive underpinnings of the band through his virtuoso bones and spoons playing, and his incredible dancing feet.
Acadian born Gaston Bernard was equally facile on mandolin, fiddle, guitar and bouzouki and had been involved in a variety of musical projects, ranging from French to Greek, Celtic and African music.
Composer/arranger Simon Lepage added his diverse background in world music, jazz and classical as a rich compliment to the band’s unique presence on the stage. All three harmonized beautifully on songs and ballads, all introduced in English and sung in French. The audiences were treated to an assortment of jigs, reels, quadrilles and rondeaux. Benoit and Gaston were former members of renowned band Ad Vielle Que Pourra.
Matapat split into two groups in 2002. Benoit Bourque founded Le Vent du Nord features along with Oliver Demers, Nicolas Boulerice (of Montcorbier) and Bernard Simard, of La Bottine Souriante.
The 2007 lineup included Gaston Bernard, Simon LePage, Tommy Gautier and Francois Dauphin.
Mary Jane Lamond was born in 1960 in Kingston, Canada. Cape Breton’s modern sharer of ancient Gaelic songs, stories ‘and spirit using a variety of instruments from the bagpipes and fiddle to Indian tabla.
Lamond’s formative years were spent moving between Quebec and Ontario, but she soaked up the Gaelic heritage over many summers spent visiting her grandparents in Cape Breton, where she now resides. It was there that she first remembers hearing Gaelic songs, her initiation took place at a milling frolic, where a heavy woolen cloth is repeatedly beat against a table and people gather to sing and rhythmically keep time. The power of that experience and the music that emanated captured Lamond?s imagination. “I was so taken by it, I became determined to learn and sing Gaelic myself,” Lamond recalls.
Lamond returned to the east coast to attend Antigonish’s Saint Francis Xavier University. Before graduating in Celtic Studies, Lamond had released her first album, the beautiful Bho Thir Nan Craobh (From the Land of the Trees). It consists entirely of traditional material and also features a young and at the time, little known, Ashley McIsaac. Unbeknownst to both, this was to be the beginning of a highly creative professional collaboration.
McIsaac recorded a reworked version of an arrangement penned by Lamond and Gordie Sampson (a native Cape Bretoner), called Sleepy Maggie. The song appeared on MacIsaac’s debut A&M album, Hi How Are You Today? with Lamond (or, as McIsaac always proudly introduced her in concert, Cape Breton’s disco diva) featured on vocals. The song went on to become a staple at contemporary hit radio, garnering numerous awards. Lamond hit the road with McIsaac and The Kitchen Devils as they toured with Melissa Etheridge, The Chieftains and the Crash Test Dummies.
Lamond’s affection, understanding and deep regard for the people and culture of Cape Breton are evident in every aspect of Suas E! The material was lovingly researched and rendered, and several tracks were laid down outside of the recording studio. Air failirinn is a milling song recorded in Lamond’s own home. Horo Ghoid Thu Nighean (Stepping Song) combines electric instrumentation, traditional fiddle and the sound of eight step dancers beating the floor at the West Mabou Sporting Hall.
With adept stewardship from producers Philip Strong and Laurel MacDonald, Lamond succeeded in weaving an unabashedly ancestral Gaelic motif into the fabric of a decidedly modern aural tapestry. “I do think you have to be solidly based in the traditional culture,” Lamond says, “but I believe in experimentation. I don’t have a problem integrating such disparate elements as long as the music stays true to its roots.”
The varied musical styles are played out with contributions from Toronto urban progressive jazzoids Bass is Base and Glenn Milchem and James Gray from the much-revered Blue Rodeo. MacIsaac and his Kitchen Devils once again make an appearance to inject funk into Bog a’Lochain, one of Cape Breton’s most popular strathespeys.
The success of Suas E! contributed to an explosion of interest in Celtic culture and Lamond took the songs on the road with a live band. Her experiences on the stage directly influenced the sound of Làn Dùil (Full of Hope). “I had the same philosophy, which is to pick a variety of songs in the tradition and work on different ways to arrange them,” Lamond explains.
On Làn Dùil, Lamond’s spell-binding renditions of treasured Gaelic songs are fused with original arrangements using a variety of instruments, from the familiar fiddle and bagpipes to Indian tabla. Ultimately, it’s a new style of world music that is unique to Mary Jane Lamond.
Yet as the singer herself will tell you, it’s the stories that matter. While Làn Dùil soothes and stirs, it also chronicles Cape Breton’s living Scottish Gaelic culture. The sounds of friends, family and local legends are heard throughout the album.
Despite the important role her music plays in preserving Scottish Gaelic songs that would otherwise rarely be heard outside Cape Breton, Mary Jane Lamond says Làn Dùil’s primary purpose is to entertain. “This is a huge oral literary tradition that is being lost at an alarming rate,” she says, “and I am involved with community things that help conserve it for younger people. But I’m also an interpreter, a singer and musician and in my music the challenge is to create something new and exciting that doesn’t destroy the heart of it.”
Orain Ghàidhlig (Gaelic Songs of Cape Breton), focuses on the songs and poetry which are the cornerstone of this tradition. This recording remains true to the simple sharing of music that is the foundation of Gaelic culture: from the engaging milling songs performed by a group of Cape Breton?s finest traditional Gaelic singers to the lively old style fiddling of Joe Peter MacLean, a musician never before captured on recording. Recorded at the beautiful North River Church in Cape Breton, this enhanced cd also features visuals taken during the recording sessions.
Mary Jane’s recording Storas (Gaelic meaning “a treasure”) is an interpretation of Scottish Gaelic songs that have become part of Nova Scotia’s Gaelic tradition.
Le Vent du Nord (North Wind) is an evolved traditional Quebecois band born of richly eclectic musical experiences and tastes. Originally founded by pianist and hurdy-gurdy player Nicolas Boulerice and fiddler Olivier Demers, (both formerly of Ad Vielle Que Pourra and Montcorbier), the band originally included tap-dancer/accordionist Benoit Bourque (formerly of Matapat) and singer/guitarist Bernard Simard (formerly of La Bottine Souriante). Bernard Simard was replaced in 2004 by Simon Beaudry on the same instrument: guitar/vocal.
Bourque insists that what makes Quebecois music special is its combination of infectious energy and its community roots. “Quebecois music to many ears is a mix between Irish and Cajun. Like Irish music the technical part of the music is very important: you have to play triplets, and you often play very fast. But there’s also a pleasure aspect that’s very strong in Quebecois music–to just share with people. It’s more of a kitchen approach where you share with your neighbors, friends and family.”
In 2004 Le Vent du Nord won Canada’s prestigious JUNO Award in the category “Roots and Traditional Album of the Year/Group” for their CD Maudite Moisson! In 2007, Rejean Brunet (of The Brunet Brothers) joined the band in the place of Benoit Bourque. Rejean is a consummate musician, and plays accordion, bass, piano and sings.
In 2019, Le Vent du Nord released Territoires. “We wanted to explore the quest for territories, physical or internal, or territories that don’t exist yet,” said fiddler Olivier Demers. “They are also impressions, colors and sentiments, a way of feeling, extreme joy or deep sadness.”
“We’re really added a bit of groovy stuff to this album,” added fiddler and foot tapper André Brunet, who joined Le Vent du Nord, “and several songs have a riff with a bouzouki and bass. We’ve left things more open, skipping the answers in the traditional call and response sections and putting a bit of effects on the lead vocal. The sound turned out really rich.”