Album review: Consolez-vous, by De Temps Antan

Consolez-vous by De Temps Antan
Consolez-vous by De Temps Antan

I have already established that the phrase “new Le Vent du Nord album” is at the top of the list of Things That Give Me Joy. But right behind that is the phrase “new De Temps Antan album”. And I am delighted, O Internets, to report that I have that very thing to rejoice over today!

This is De Temps Antan’s fourth album, and the first one featuring new member David Boulanger, who replaces André Brunet as the trio’s fiddle player. Fans of Quebecois trad will probably recognize the name David Boulanger. I certainly have some past exposure to him, since he’s one of the current lineup of La Bottine Souriante. I was also a supporter of the album he did with Maja Kjær Jacobsen, and I own the album Boulanger did called Pièces sur pièces, along with flute player Jean Duval.

Also: David was one of the professors at Violon Trad this year, and I got to see him in action there!

So while I’m sad that André Brunet is no longer part of this trio, I knew that with Boulanger on board, De Temps Antan would be absolutely fine. Now that I’ve had the distinct pleasure of listening to this new release, I can report that this assurance is entirely vindicated!

As with prior album reviews I’ve done in the realm of Quebecois trad, you can assume going in that of course I love this album. That goes without saying! (Though of course, I’m going to say it. \0/) And while I do have a history of my album review posts often just being “I’m going to squee at you for several paragraphs about all the ways I love this thing”, I do actually have some review-type commentary to share with you this time!

Ready? Let’s DO THIS THING.

Continue reading “Album review: Consolez-vous, by De Temps Antan”

Quebec Trip 2017 Report, Part 4: Classes and activities at Violon Trad

And now, finally, back to my trip report about going to Quebec for Camp Violon Trad and Memoire et Racines! In the last post, I talked about the locale and scenery of where the camp was held. In this post, I’ll talk about what we actually did! Or at least some of what we did, because there was a lot, and that’ll stretch across multiple posts.
Continue reading “Quebec Trip 2017 Report, Part 4: Classes and activities at Violon Trad”

2017, are you TRYING to give me emotional whiplash?

This past Monday I had my annual mammogram.
This afternoon, Dara alerted me that Evergreen had left me a message on our home answering machine asking me to call them. This is not normal procedure when a mammogram goes well. I got through to them after a couple of tries, and was informed by their staffer that their radiologists want me to come in for an ultrasound of my left side.
Doublechecking my January 2013 posts, I am reminded that this is not the first time I’ve had a questionable mammogram. In 2013, they told me they saw teeny calcifications on the left side, and after they did a biopsy, they told me it was fine.
I am nervous now, four years later, to be informed that they want an ultrasound of that same side. So now I am scheduled to go back in for an ultrasound, on Wednesday of next week, and I get to be nervous about this until then.
I will now be doggedly focusing on trying to be the least amount of nervous I can manage, because goddammit, cancer, I do not have time for your shit. I have writing to do. I have tunes to learn. And I have a fiddle to learn how to play better.
Especially because goddammit I am going to Quebec this summer, for Camp Violon Trad, as I’ve been wanting to do for ages now. Dara and I are beginning a plan for her to meet up with me after the camp is done, for Memoire et Racines, which I’ve been wanting to go back to ever since the brief and awesome time we had there in 2012. We’re discussing the possibility of meeting up with Vicka there, even.
And I have a lot riding on this, you guys. Because not only is Violon Trad run by two of my favorite Quebec musicians–André Brunet and Éric Beaudry, along with their colleague Stéphanie Lépine–this is going to be the 10th anniversary of the camp, which is sure to make it extra epic this year.
Pretty much guaranteeing that it will be epic: ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF LE VENT DU NORD WILL BE GUEST TEACHERS.
Which means, Internets, that I’m going to be at a music camp that will contain André Brunet (from whom I have already had the pleasure of a couple of excellent workshops, now), Éric Beaudry (because BOY HOWDY do I want to spend multiple days learning guitar from this man, YES PLEASE), AND Olivier Demers (who, as y’all may recall, I dubbed the Best Fiddle Player Ever).
I am not remotely ready to tackle playing the fiddle in a full-bore week-long camp like Violon Trad–I’ll be going for the guitar classes, mostly. But I will also be bringing at least some flutes. And now that I actually do own the fiddle I’ve been renting (I bought it because woo! promotion and bonus!), along with a bow that doesn’t suck, I will ALSO be taking that fiddle to try to at least learn SOMETHING.
Because why yes an opportunity to learn tunes from Olivier Demers will make up for how I haven’t seen Le Vent perform in over a year, and I haven’t seen them perform with Olivier for over two years.
I AM DOING THIS AND NO OTHER OUTCOME IS ACCEPTABLE.

Han says NO.
Han says NO.

TAKE THAT, questionable mammogram results. >:|

De Temps Antan at St. James Hall, Vancouver BC, 11/8/2014

My third visit to St. James Hall, a.k.a. the Rogue, proved every bit as delightful as expected and as they always do, De Temps Antan put on a lively and spirited show.
A satisfyingly large posse of my local AND online Quebecois trad fandom friends were on hand: in addition to myself and Dara, Dejah and Michelle from the Seattle crowd came up for the show. Ginny and Gary from Coquitlam were on hand, as well as Carol all the way from Iowa! And this time I brought Geri along so that she could see De Temps Antan in action, since she had not before. We all claimed a table close to the front of the room, since Ginny and Gary had ever so helpfully reserved it. There was singing! There was podorythmie! And there may possibly have been mammoth jigs on Dara’s head while the band was playing “Valse St-Sévère”.
Full deets behind the fold!
Continue reading “De Temps Antan at St. James Hall, Vancouver BC, 11/8/2014”

De Temps Antan at the Rogue in Vancouver BC, 3/2/2014

When you go to Canada for two consecutive weekends, Internets, you tend to get behind on posting stuff to your blog. Which means for you that I got delayed posting my writeup of the MOST excellent concert by De Temps Antan at the Rogue. But I’m home again, and posting again, so here you go!
Previously in our adventures with Festival du Bois 2014, yours truly got to chat with both Éric Beaudry AND André Brunet after the close of official festival events on Saturday night! And y’all may recall that SOMEBODY got a little creative with how he did his signature on the inside of my copy of Ce monde ici-bas!
So what happened? Full concert blow-by-blow behind the fold!
Continue reading “De Temps Antan at the Rogue in Vancouver BC, 3/2/2014”

Festival du Bois trip, Day 1: Saturday!

My belovedest Dara and I have done the trip up to Vancouver quite a few times at this point–but still, it’s a bit rough getting up at stupid-o’clock in the morning in time to get on an early bus, go all the way down to King Street Station, and get on a train to go all the way up to Vancouver. There was quite a bit of yawning involved.
But then, with Festival du Bois waiting on the other end, I was quite willing to spend my Saturday morning snoozing on a train!
As always, our friends Geri and Rob kindly put us up for the weekend at their place. This time around, we brought Rob a bottle of Scotch by way of a “thank you for letting us snooze here!” gift. (That, and I’m sure their dog was happy to have two extra pairs of hands to throw the ball down the stairs.) And, this time around, Geri elected to come to the festival shenanigans with us on Saturday!
My only regret? Realizing only after we were on our way north that I’d totally forgotten to bring Jean-Claude. AUGH. For the best, though, since the weather was wet and cold and let me tell you, Internets, there’s nothing quite as pungent as the smell of wet mammoth.
(Full deets and pics behind the fold!)
Continue reading “Festival du Bois trip, Day 1: Saturday!”

Album review: Ici on fête, by Various Artists

Ici on fête
Ici on fête

I owe a large debt of gratitude to my friend Melanie in Montréal for alerting me to the gem that is Ici on fête, a recently released live compilation album featuring a broad swath of bands and artists in the Quebecois trad genre. This thing features not one, not two, but FIVE of my top favorite Quebec bands, all of whom I’ve posted about in glowing terms as you all know. La Bottine Souriante! De Temps Antan! Le Vent du Nord! Genticorum! And Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer!
It’s pretty much only lacking Galant tu perds ton temps to be a stunningly accurate summuary of my entire collection, really. And while I must sadface at the lack of that fine group, there is much consolation to be found in several other familiar names out of my collection here–Les Batinses, Mes Aïeux, Nicolas Pellerin, Yves Lambert & Le Bébert Orchestra, Les Chauffeurs à Pieds, and Michel Faubert.
Melanie pointed me at this communique about the album, from which I learn that the redoubtable M. Faubert (whose voice I came to know as part of the Charbonniers) is a driving force behind the collection. He in particular is represented on three of the tracks, and he’s in excellent voice in all three, setting the bar very high for everyone else’s performances–and, happily, every other artist on the album meets and matches him.
Tracks 2 and 3 all by themselves make this collection worth the price of admission for me. Y’all already know I’m a De Temps Antan fangirl, and hearing them whip through a live take of “Buvons mes chers amis buvons” is always fun. But what really blew my socks straight off is La Bottine Souriante’s track 3, “Le p’tit porte-clé”–which I immediately recognized as the song I know as “Le ziguezon”, a very early footstomper from La Bottine’s first couple of albums, recorded with André Marchand singing lead. “Le ziguezon” is one of my regular repeat favorites, and to hear it sung by Éric Beaudry here, doing it fine lively justice, made me want to start stepdancing through the streets of downtown Seattle.
Of course I cannot talk about my favorite tracks without talking about Le Vent du Nord. They’re here too, checking with a very strong take of “La fille et les dragons”. This is a song I’ve experienced as its studio take as well as on both of Le Vent’s live albums–but not with a drum track, which was a startling and fun addition, though I wouldn’t want to make a habit of that. (The drum track, after all, rather drowned out the laser precision of the feet of Olivier Demers. And we can’t have that, now can we?)
Genticorum also represents, with a take of one of their earlier instrumentals, “Cascou”, from their album Malins Plaisirs. The only lament I have about this performance is that Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand is not playing his flute on this set. But since he is cutting loose on the bass, that lament is actually fairly small. I’ve seen and heard that bass with my own eyes and ears, people. Five-stringed fretless basses are love.
And then there’s Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, who offer up what to my ears is a treat indeed: a song of theirs that I do not, in fact, have represented on any prior album of theirs I own! The song is called “Tout l’monde est malheureux”, and it flips back and forth between morose and full harmonic speed. My ear for a song is tugging at this, convinced I’ve heard it before at some point, but I don’t currently have anything else by the same title–so if some other band I’ve purchased music from has recorded this, they did it under a different title. Clearly I’m just going to have to listen to my entire collection again until I find it. Oh darn.
“Souliers rouges” was another song I immediately recognized, though here it’s performed by Manigance, and I’m familiar with the version by La Volée d’Castors. Still, I find it great fun to hear different artists’ interpretation of the same song (the aforementioned “Le ziguezon” is a great example of this, given that I’ve got a version of that by Mauvais Sort in my collection too!). This time was no exception.
Les Tireux d’Roches, as if to console me for the lack of Genticorum’s flute firepower, handed me some of their own and filled my ears with glee. And harmony, for that matter. Very much liked their take of “Maluré soldat”. I’ve got a bit of this group represented in my collection now, but I didn’t have this song yet, which is one on of their albums I have not yet acquired. I shall be rectifying this problem at my earliest opportunity.
I was quite pleased, too, to see women take the lead on the singing at least on a couple of the tracks, so I’ll call them out both by name here: Mara Tremblay on “La chanson du bavard”, and Angèle Arsenault on “J’ai un bouton sur le bout de la langue”. This wasn’t quite enough consolation to make up for the lack of Galant tu perds ton temps, but it did help!
All in all the album is upbeat in spirit, which is befitting a release targeted for the holiday season (c.f., the communique I linked to above). While the material here isn’t specifically holiday-themed, it is nonetheless quite festive–one of the things that made me fall in love with this entire genre of music to begin with.
So if you’re looking to get into Quebecois trad, Ici on fête would be an excellent place to start. Investigation leads me to find it only available to a limited degree–it’s on iTunes, but only on the Canada store, here. And if you want to order the album from Amazon, I’d strongly advise hitting Amazon.ca in particular, since the Amazon.com site has it at import prices. You’ll get it much more cheaply from Amazon.ca, here. (Note the slow delivery time. But also note that Amazon.com right now isn’t showing the album in stock at all.)
Quebec listeners can get it from Archambault digitally here as well as on CD. Renaud-Bray is also carrying the disc here.
Outside of Quebec though, your easiest bet will be to try to scarf an iTunes gift card for the Canada store and buy it that way. It’ll be a hard hunt, but if you can find it, your ears will be rewarded.

La Bottine Souriante is here to rock up your Thursday

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’. ;)

In which Anna figures out how to play Au rang d'aimer!

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!

Quebec band recommendations, round 2: La Bottine Souriante!

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.