Good gods, I just wrote a song!

Okay, it’s official, Quebecois trad just muscled its way closer to Great Big Sea in my affections, because it just made me commit an act of filk. I blame the album I just bought by De Temps Antan for this, specifically the track “Jeune et Jolie”. The tune for this isn’t an exact matchup to that song, but the rhythm is totally pulling from that. Muahaha.
I think this is probably either in G or D, 6/8 time, and should be sung with as much vigor as possible. I’m totally hearing it as a drinking song in my head. And now, I give you…
“Quebecois Boys”
Some girls like to rock with electric guitars
Some girls like their operas sublime
Some girls like the rappers, or metal, or country
But none of this music is mine!
Oh the north wind is blowing, and I want to follow
Where it leads me to tales of times past
Where beavers are flying, and coalmen from hell
Rouse my boots to be smiling at last!
(chorus)
And it’s sing to me, Quebecois laddies, oh sing to me
Sing to me, Quebecois boys!
You could spend seven verses on the Montreal phone book
And I’d think you’d still sound quite grand
As long as you’re tapping away on the board
And you’ve got a bouzouki in hand!
So warm up your fiddles, break out your accordions
Play till the morning has dawned
Let’s dance to the reels and sing sweet turluttes
Till the wee hours of evening are gone
Sing to me, Quebecois laddies, oh sing to me
Sing to me, Quebecois boys!
(bridge here)
They say we American girls have no culture
But I say the doubters are wrong
For music transcends all the borders of language
And makes the soul rise up in song
Vertical movement requires no translation
For this Anglophone southern-bred gal
But teach me your lyrics, boys, and see just how fast
I’ll engage dans la danse verticale!
And it’s sing to me, Quebecois laddies, oh sing to me
Sing to me, Quebecois boys!
(no instruments, and layer the English with the French for this a cappella bit)
Sing to me, Quebecois laddies, oh sing to me
(translation, four measures after)
Sing to me, Quebecois laddies, oh sing to me
(translation)
Sing to me, Quebecois laddies, oh sing to me
(translation, and hold out the final French word for a couple extra measures before returning to the English)
Sing to me, Quebecois boys!
(four beats of stomping, and then this should kick into a reel in the same key, with as much dangerous podorythmie as possible!)

Le sort des amoureux: Album review post!

Just finished listening to Le sort des amoureux, the album by Éric and Simon Beaudry! This was fun. Lower-key than much of the Quebecois music I have now, but fun nonetheless.
Éric and Simon trade off singing lead vocals on the various tracks, and I’m beginning to see that while they have very similar voices, I can in fact tell which one is singing when, even without consulting the liner notes. I’ve come to know Simon’s voice well of course from the tracks he sings lead on for Le Vent du Nord, even though there are only a few of those, so that’s helpful! I prefer Simon’s voice; it’s got a bit of a darker, richer flavor to it. But that said, Éric sings very well too. (This, I note, is pretty much what I can say about both of their singing voices when I don’t speak French–it means I punt back to thinking about the character of the voices doing the singing, instead of the actual words. Which is actually kind of fun in its own right.)
Note also: the title track, “Le sort des amoureux” (“The fate of love”, according to Google Translate), has the Beaudry boys singing together a capella. NICE. They sound rather haunting together, and while they don’t sing with the force of the lead singers in their other bands (Nicolas Boulerice, I am looking at you, monsieur), they blend very, very well.
Meanwhile, though, I also have to give the album high marks for significant levels of bouzouki! All video evidence I’ve been able to find to date suggests that Éric may actually have more bouzouki awesome in his musical arsenal than Simon does–but this is only because I’m seeing vids of Éric playing bouzouki as a lead instrument, including doing some really nice fingerwork, vs. Simon playing bouzouki as a rhythm instrument. The liner notes on this album, anyway, are crediting the zouk specifically to Éric. And that’s all good. I REALLY like the zouk on these tracks; it stands out very clearly, and gives it a flavor I do not actually get from most other albums I’ve got, Quebecois or otherwise!
There are several guest musicians here too, so it’s not just the Beaudrys. In particular, I’m noticing the name of André Marchand showing up heavily in the credits of the liner notes–who I now know as one of the members of Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, and a former member of La Bottine Souriante, as I posted about before! (He apparently produced this album for the Beaudrys, and if this is an example of his production prowess, I can only say ‘well done, monsieur!’) The second to last track is all instrumental, and has seven people total playing on it, so the energy kicks up closer to what I hear from oh, say, Le Vent du Nord. High bouzouki there too. :D
The last track in particular is also noteworthy. It’s also a capella, and is in fact sung by an 81-year-old (at the time of recording) lady named Clémence Gagné. If I understand the translation I’m getting off the liner notes correctly, she apparently taught the Beaudrys this song, and they invited her to sing it on the album. Éric sings along with her. Aw. <3
Last but not least: the album artwork's really kind of adorable! It's got this whole Chutes-and-Ladders-like motif on the front of it, only instead of chutes, there are a couple of snakes! And there are some cute little sketches of a guy and his sweetheart, including one charming little one of him holding out a bouquet of flowers to her. I'm glad to have a physical copy of this CD for the artwork alone–but also because lyrics are provided on the liner notes, which is extremely helpful given my lack of French, as it means I can try to translate them.
So yeah. Generally recommended for anybody who likes trad in the general category of "laid back and groovy, with a bit of blues and country twang to it", as well as anyone who likes the sound of French lyrics! If you're in the US and you want the album, CD Baby is your friend. This particular album’s CD-only, but the CD Baby page does have listenable samples, so check it out!
And the Beaudrys’ site for the album lives right over here. You can see the aforementioned adorable artwork on the landing page! (Note that while they have a button for French and a button for English, only the French one actually works. But you can always load the site up in Chrome and have it translate for you on the fly!)
ETA: Spelling of album title corrected! Oops!
ETA #2: says the title is correctly translated to The Fate of Lovers, which makes better sense, and goes very well with the aforementioned adorable artwork! Thanks, !

Day of Bouzouki Player Awesomeness, Part 1

As previously squeed about, I have been alerted to De Temps Antan, one of at least two bands known to me in which Éric Beaudry is one of the musicians. These guys shot up in interest to me when I then learned that André Brunet, brother of Rejean Brunet of Le Vent du Nord, is ALSO in this band–and all three of the guys in it are either former or current members of La Bottine Souriante!
So I went and listened to the samples of both their albums on iTunes, and they had me absolutely sold on the first track I listened to when they broke out the mouth reels and then WOO! BOUZOUKI SOLO! Turns out that this particular Beaudry brother, like Simon, is a bouzouki player, and this appears to be his primary De Temps Antan instrument. Found some vids of them playing as well, and yep, it’s official, dude can PLAY.
They appear to have a YouTube account, and here’s their vid of the song in question!

Also? if I weren’t already going to buy these guys’ two albums because of that, they also made me laugh out loud just at the sight of one of their track titles: “Suite du Laptop”.
This has now also definitely bumped up the priority on finding more recent La Bottine Souriante, since all of the LBS I have predates Éric’s joining!
Relatedly, I came home tonight to find the Beaudry brothers’ album, Le Sort Des Amoureux, waiting for me in the mail! I’m very much looking forward to giving this a listen, especially now that I know Éric is also a bouzouki player. From what I’m hearing in song samples and in the DTA vids I’ve found so far, vocally, he sounds a lot like Simon. It’ll be fun to see if I can distinguish their voices. Fortunately, the album I’ve just received helpfully calls out in the liner notes which of them is singing lead on which songs.

Not done swooning over Quebecois trad yet

So a kind Internet passerby (thank you, M Kenney!) has just alerted me to two pieces of Critical Information:
One, that Éric Beaudry, the brother of Simon and current member of La Bottine Souriante, is also in a band called De Temps Antan which requires checking out.
Two, and much more importantly, that Éric and Simon HAVE AN ALBUM. I have just ordered the hell out of this, since CD Baby has it, and this just trumped my planned orders of further LCE and LBS albums. This album should go very, very well with the ones by Nicolas Boulerice and Oliviers Demers that I just ordered, too!
(How do you say “gimme gimme gimme gimme” or “grabbyhands” in French? Or perhaps “CD Baby ROCKS?”)
Exploration of the Beaudrys’ site clues me in as well that OMG, Éric plays the cittern! He just got significantly more interesting, because citterns? Almost as awesome as bouzoukis! \0/
Furthermore, has informed me that I should check out a group called Mes Aïeux as well. So this week’s clearly shaping up to be the week everybody on the Internet throws me their Quebecois trad recommendations! Keep ’em coming, you guys, I’m loving this!

Dangerous Podorythmie is my Les Charbonniers de l'Enfer cover band

Hey, look what I found! Video clips of the Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer concert, from the album I was posting about before! \0/
This one is “Yes Very Well”, the second part of Track 10 on En personne, where it suddenly turns into an entirely different and MUCH MORE LIVELY song. The gent singing lead on this is roaring out those lyrics, and now that I can see he’s a skinny rake of a dude, I’m all the more impressed by the force of his voice! It’s this specific song that, the first time I listened to the album this past weekend, made me go HOLY CRAP, they are much, MUCH better live than in the studio, and they don’t suck in the studio.
And this one, right here? This is what I mean when I say that there’s just something absolutely pure and primal about Quebecois mouth reels and podorythmie, making music with nothing more than your mouth and feet. That video is “Les Turlutes”, track 16 on the album! Look for the podorythmie stomp-off about three minutes in.
And now I can tell that one of their podorythmie guys must be one of the two of them who used to be in La Bottine Souriante. I am almost certain that the guy in the left-hand chair (left from the viewer perspective) is the one who was singing lead when La Bottine Souriante performed at Chateau Ste. Michelle back in 2000, the first time I ever saw Great Big Sea in concert. So he’s either Michel Bordeleau or André Marchand. Either way, he TOTALLY pwns the guy in the other chair, in the stomp-off in the second video.
Some brief audience reaction shots in the second vid, too, show that the audience is clearly getting into it, and there’s a bit of Quebecois-style vertical movement going on there. Or given that this is Quebecois music, maybe le mouvement vertical! I very, very much want to see these gentlemen perform in person now. I may fangirl all over Great Big Sea and Le Vent du Nord for having pretty pretty bouzouki players, but if you’re bringing it hard enough? You don’t have to be pretty.
And these gentlemen are bringing the HELL out of it. Well done, messieurs! XD
ETA: More videos! Sur la Vignelon, again from the same live concert. And also, Au Diable Les Avocats, which appears to be their official video for this particular song.
ETA #2: A bit of judicious Googling has educated me that in fact, both of the podorythmie guys in LCE are the former La Bottine Souriante members! And, in fact, the guy in the left-hand chair has got to be Michel Bordeleau, since from what I’m seeing on the French Wikipedia page for the group, André Marchand was no longer in the group by the time I saw them perform. Plus, that’s clearly Michel’s voice in “YoYo Verret”, the track I love the most off the old LBS album Rock and Reel, a.k.a. Xième! He’s also the one described on LCE’s current site as having “dangerous podorythmia” and they are NOT LYING. \0/

Motherlode of Quebecois musical awesome!

This being another post actually written while I was on hiatus, but I wanted to get it down while it was fresh in my mind!
So as y’all know I have become very fond of Quebecois music, and I have no fewer than four bands I’m following: La Bottine Souriante, Le Vent du Nord, La Volee d’Castors, and Les Charbonniers de L’enfer. This last group are the ones who are entirely a capella, specializing in the mouth reels and podorythmie that I love so much about music from Quebec, and they ALSO have two guys who used to be in La Bottine Souriante, so a couple of their voices sound very familiar to me.
I’ve snagged their one live album off of iTunes, and I’m tellin’ ya, people, they are way better live than I expected after listening to their first two albums I’d bought! They are so much more vigorous in live performance that I was entirely blown away by several of the tracks. They have a couple on this album where they’re roaring out the lyrics–or in the case of one track, tearing through the mouth reels at unbelievable speed. And, AND, if my poking around on Google and on their website is any indication, they have two guys doing the podorythmie, not just one.
The album is called En personne, and for those of you with iTunes accounts, I highly recommend checking it out. For those of you not iTunes-inclined, I was also able to find this site here which appears to be for a chain store in Quebec. They can’t sell MP3 downloads to customers outside Canada due to copyright restrictions, but they DO have listenable samples–and they will ship CDs to US customers. Their page for the album in question is here–AND there’s ALSO a DVD!
Check out the samples for tracks 4, 10, 13, and 16 in particular, wherever you check it out. iTunes has longer samples than the Archambault site does, enough to give you a feel for how LCE sound live, though the really good bits of tracks 4 and 10 are towards the end so you may not get those in the samples. Track 16 is ALL mouth reels though and goddamn, it is awesome. XD
I am totally ordering this thing on my next paycheck. I have got to see the video that goes with this concert, especially if they have two guys on the footwork.
AND AND AND they also have a boatload of La Bottine Souriante albums I’m going to be ordering–five of ’em I’m missing, and I’m particularly interested in the more recent ones since LBS have had a significant shift in members over the last few years, so now they sound rather different than they did when I saw them perform way back in 2000 along with GBS at Chateau Ste. Michelle. What particularly amuses me, now that I’m actively fangirling Le Vent du Nord, is that the lovely Monsieur Simon Beaudry has a brother who’s in La Bottine Souriante now! ;D
And speaking of Le Vent du Nord, that site also has the one remaining LVN album I don’t have yet–a recording of a live concert they did along with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, which was apparently not widely released, since it’s not on iTunes along with the rest of LVN’s albums. I am totally ordering this, too.
I really need a proper icon for Quebecois music now! Stompyfeet, that’d be the ticket. :D

Anything that gets me to practice

I may not have reached GBS levels of fangirling with these new boys from Quebec, but Le Vent du Nord have done something only GBS has seriously been able to do before: they’ve gotten me to pick up my instruments and try to play along, especially now that has gotten Apple TV working on our big TV at home. This means I can bring up YouTube videos on my iPad and channel the right onto the TV, which is super cool.
Because it means I can do things like watch this video or this one of Le Vent du Nord, and try to pick apart the songs they’re playing and see if I can do it too!
“Laniaire” is currently my favorite LVN song sung by Simon Beaudry, and he’s very easy to follow on the melody line in that–I picked out the melody pretty quick, just by whistling the first couple of notes into a tuner to get the starting pitches and then picking up the piccolo to get the whole tune. But Simon’s capoed on his fifth fret in that video, and based on what the piccolo was telling me, I was fairly sure the key was G minor.
Which gave me a bit of a fit. I had to backtrack down the neck to try to figure out what key’s chords he must have been playing in order to wind up in G minor, and that told me he’s playing chords in D minor. Which, for a fairly beginner-level guitarist like me, is CRAZYTALK. D minor has never been my friend. Fortunately, capos are mobile! So I capoed on 3 instead of 5 and instantly got a set of chords much better matched to my skill level. I love you, E minor. (heart) (heart) (heart)
(ETA: D minor, not C minor like I’d originally thought. I forgot about the frets going up by half steps! See what I mean, people? Beginner-level guitarist.)
Now, though, the trick is to try to work out the actual changes. I’m not as comfortable with minor chord progressions as I am with major ones, so I’m going to have to step through this song slowly and see if I can figure out what Simon is doing based on what’s described here. Also, any guitarists out there want to chime in on basic progressions I should get to know for purposes of Celtic-flavored music, by all means, please do!
Meanwhile, “Cré mardi” is my favorite LVN song sung by Nicolas Boulerice, the hurdy gurdy player, so far. This thing’s in G, which is about as friendly a key as you can get. I was able to more or less pick out the first half (where they’re all doing call and response vocals) on the piccolo; the second half is harder, where they’re going into the mouth rhythm and Olivier Demers is echoing them on the fiddle. The tune is called “La turlette du rang des Sloan” according to the album this song comes from, but Googling for that basically gets me hits about that exact track on that exact album. TunePal doesn’t know it either. So I guess I get to figure this thing out the way a proper traditional musician should: BY EAR. ;) Fun!
Also, as soon as I can figure out how to say “my fandom plays bouzouki” in French, I am totally going to have a Simon icon. Possibly also Nico, because the hurdy gurdy is AWESOME. And very possibly also Olivier’s stompy!feet, because that’s +20 to Awesome on top of his being a fiddle player. \0/
On a final (not related to Le Vent du Nord) note–HA, I have in fact managed to get “Banish Misfortune” into my brain enough that I can stumble through it without consulting Matt’s PDF of session tunes! Now if I can do this again on my octave mandolin, that’d rock.

Pretty bouzouki player pics achieved!

Now I totally need me a French version of the My Fandom Plays Bouzouki icon.
Because yum, oh my, and hell, he even looks good just HOLDING the bouzouki. Fortunately, he can also PLAY it:

Furthermore, it must be said that damn, that boy’s voice is pretty too:

Also, this pic of the pretty Monsieur Beaudry and his colleague Monsieur Demers on the fiddle TOTALLY wants a caption. I love that look on Olivier’s face. I’ve seen looks like that exchanged between The Doyle and the McCann!

And the winner is…

Le Vent du Nord, who take over as my official Second Favorite Band. They narrowly, narrowly beat out La Volee d’Castors on the grounds that:

  • Simon Beaudry is gorgeous, and as previously noted, I have a marked fondness for cute dark-haired bouzouki players! (Note: yes, I am aware he’s holding a guitar in that picture. I have not yet found a suitably pretty picture of him with a bouzouki. Being imaginative, I can extrapolate!)
  • LVN actually seem to periodically do US shows, if their tour calendar is any indication. Which means there’s an off-chance I might actually get to see them perform if they ever head out this way, and if they do, I am ALL OVER THAT.
  • LVN’s website has an English edition as well as a French one. LVC’s website currently does not, and while I can still kinda poke my way around theirs and make reasonable guesses about what’s what, a coherent full English site is still more helpful.
  • LVN also provide lyrics on their website. While I speak only a meager handful of phrases in French, I can at least use the French lyrics to read while I’m listening to the songs, which can let me start to try to parse them as words, as opposed to “lyrical nonsense being sung by guys with sexy voices”! The English lyrics provided are spotty at best, and are clearly the half-assed output of a translation engine, but they are at least enough to give me a half-assed idea of what various songs are actually about.
  • Nicolas Boulerice has a hurdy-gurdy, and Unusual Instruments FTW!

Now, all this squeeing aside, LVC are still very, very close behind the gentlemen of LVN, on the strength of their music alone!
And I fear that Carbon Leaf has now slipped to fourth place. Sorry, lads! (I do however resolve to check out CL’s forthcoming live album/DVD set, and show them some love too.)

Fangirling, French Canadian style!

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can ever dislodge my beloved B’ys from the top of my music list–but I gotta say, Le Vent du Nord and La Volee d’Castors are duking it out HARD for the esteemed position of My Second Favorite Band. Especially after I went and found some videos of Le Vent du Nord this afternoon, and realized WHOA HEY WAIT A MINUTE, their guitarist/bouzouki player is really rather cute. Thus continuing my grand tradition of being partial to cute dark-haired bouzouki players!
Here, have some Le Vent du Nord goodness, them doing “Cre Mardi”, one of my favorite songs of theirs. The dude in the front, nearest to the person who took the vid, is the aforementioned cute guitarist/bouzouki player. When he moves out of the way towards the latter half of the song, you can see more of the awesome podorythmie action from his bandmate behind him! WHILE THE GUY IS PLAYING THE FIDDLE. I mean damn.

I grabbed a couple more of theirs for my YouTube favorites list as well, like this one, which is a full ten minutes of a capella excellence (all four guys in the band take turns singing lead, and I got a giggle out of this one featuring a tune La Volee d’Castors covered, “Les Coucous”), and this one, which is also long but is a nice segue from an instrumental into vocals. Mad props to YouTube user bordurat, too, who took all three of these vids and who is clearly an LVN fan.
For comparison, I also give you La Volee d’Castors here and here. I like these guys just about as much as Le Vent du Nord–their harmonies aren’t as smooth and polished in these vids (although NOTE: they’re really a lot more polished on their latest album, Le retour), but they have GBS-like levels of vigor on their awesome live album Y a Du Monde À’ Messe! and I TOTALLY want to see them in concert. And check THEIR foot-rhythm guy, who totally meets and matches LVN’s–LVC’s guy makes with the footstompy + accordion!
I highly recommend both of these groups for any GBS fan who either speaks French or digs the sound of it sung!