That surprise that Dejah promised me if I showed up for this week’s session turned out to be THIS! If pictures are worth a thousand words, this one is worth at least an entire novella.
This was in fact the very poster I had given to Dejah myself, one of the extras sent to me by Susan! You guys, Dejah gave up her poster just so she could get it signed for me. How awesome is this? “Pour ANNA!” (heart) And aside from me blurring out Réjean Brunet’s signature a bit because it was actually legible (and I therefore was NOT going to put that publicly online), what you see here is exactly what I got.
I got a little happyteary at that. I may have played only like FIVE NOTES at that session, because I’m still pretty much in Absorb the Musical Ambience mode, but I’m here to tell you, Internets: BEST. SESSION. EVER. I gave Dejah a big thank-you hug. And after the session was over, I promptly came home and wrote all four of these boys a thank-you message on Facebook. In French.
We still don’t know why the car conked out on us–and solarbird and spazzkat went down and fetched it from Kelso yesterday, since the mechanics there weren’t able to diagnose a proper fixable problem for us. I’m still surly at that car for making me miss the concert.
But getting this poster went a long, long, LONG way to making it all okay.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Great Big Sea fandom (and a lot of you who have read my posts over the years can back me up on this) is that it’s filled with genuinely wonderful people. I have been deeply privileged to discover that the same can be said for the extended community of Quebecois music fans–because I’m tellin’ ya, people, we have some fabulous people in our local Quebec music session crowd. Dejah Leger, I am looking AT YOU.
Yesterday, during my general blue funk in which I worked from home (on the grounds that it was generally better for all parties concerned if I didn’t have to deal with people face to face), I started getting hints that the funk was doomed to fall.
First wave: cell phone pic from the aforementioned Dejah Of Awesomeness, from the Le Vent du Nord house concert in Portland on Sunday night.
Second wave: friend request on Facebook from Réjean Brunet. As in “the accordion player and bassist for Le Vent du Nord”. To wit: EEK? *^_^*;;
Third wave: Dejah dropping me a massive hint that I should come to session tomorrow night. Because she has a Thing, and I have to show up at session to get it, and she ain’t saying what it is. Uh oh. *^_^*;;
And this afternoon, this happened:
People, do you see that? Do you see that boulder that just smacked me upside the head (that French-speaking, violin-playing, astoundingly thoughtful boulder)? I talk a good talk with the whole fangirly thing, I can blather about hypersonic squee with the best of ‘em. But that? That made an actual audible squeak pop out of me. Let’s count the various ways this is choking me up here.
One, somebody (wherein ‘somebody’ is pronounced ‘Dejah’ and HI DEJAH I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE you beautiful person you) spread the word to the boys of Le Vent. And while we’re on the topic of Awesome People Who Are Awesome, Susan of whom I’ve already sung many praises fessed up to emailing the boys as well, to wit: awww. *^_^*;; (And yes, I know, I’m using that emoticon a lot! It’s been that kind of a day!)
Two, M. Demers made a point of bringing me that wall post. For those of you who aren’t Francophones, he’s basically writing on behalf of the entire band, telling me that they’d heard about our car troubles and that we missed the show, and that they hope they can see us at a future show next time they come out west. And that he thinks we’ll like the symphony show in Vancouver if we can come to that.
Internets, this means Le Vent du Nord reached out to me, on purpose, just because I missed their show. I do not have words for how touched and honored I am by this. And I’ve written three entire novels, am about to finish a fourth, and will soon be starting on a fifth. I’m GOOD at words. Verbosity is my goddamn superpower.
Three, holy crap he wrote to me in French. Which triggered an immediate “oh shit what the hell do I say in reply?!” bit of panic–but here’s the great part of this. What I wrote in reply was composed almost entirely of words I already knew, which I’ve picked up in daily language study with SuperMemo. I had to look up verb conjugations (because great jumping gods, French verb conjugations are a lot more complex than English ones), and how to say “our car broke down”. But the rest of it? Right out of my head. Because let’s hear it for SuperMemo!
(My brain would have fallen right out of my head if I’d been called upon to actually say this in person, but that I can throw words together with only cursory assistance from Google Translate and the reverso.net grammar checker is, I think, a reassuring step in the right direction. :D )
And oh yeah–what I said in reply, again for those of you who aren’t Francophones, was: “Hello Olivier, thank you very much, thank you a thousand times, for thinking of us! Yes, our car broke down. I was very unhappy to miss your show. I really wanted to see you play, and I very much want to see the show in Vancouver! I love the Symphonique album. Again, thank you very much!”
But anyway, the point here is, he wrote to me in French. Which meant he had enough data to be reasonably sure I’d figure out fast what he was saying. Also a reassuring step.
And the upshot of all this: do you guys hear that tectonic shift in the earth? Can you feel that rumble?
That’s the sound of Le Vent du Nord becoming my new official Favorite Band.
Those of you who know how much I love Great Big Sea know that if I’m saying this, I’m not saying it lightly. Do not mistake me. It’s not like I’ve stopped loving Great Big Sea; it’d be biologically impossible for me to stop loving my belovedest of B’ys, especially after seeing them perform in Newfoundland this year. I will always love them too.
But let me emphasize again: touched and honored. Enough that I’m tearing up a bit, little happy tears, as I’m writing this. If a band’s music makes their fans happy, that’s a thing of beauty and a joy forever, to be sure. This level of amazing thoughtfulness, though–not only from the band themselves but also from others who love them too–takes that joy up a whole extra order of magnitude. It’s a joy that springs from people being good to one another. A joy that rebounds right back to me, and makes me want to work all the harder to improve my French, not to mention learning to play more of the tunes of Quebec myself. And a joy that’ll kindle a little sun right in my heart, every time I hear “Manteau d’hiver” or “Lanlaire” or “Vive l’amour” or “Cre-mardi”.
And if all of this wasn’t enough, towards the end of my workday, it seemed like Puget Sound itself was giving me a sign that it approved of the turn my day had taken. I happened to look out the window by my desk at the exact right time to see a breathtaking sunburst of light over the water:
Well, this was SUPPOSED to be the day I went with solarbird and jennygriffee down to Oregon to see Le Vent du Nord perform, and then to meet up with fredpdx tomorrow afternoon for lunch and then an excursion to Powell’s.
But the travel gods had other plans. We made it safely down to Olympia–where we stopped for lunch and then found a little shop called Bonjour Cupcakes, which seemed like a fortuitous sign, because what BETTER place could there be to visit on the way to see a Francophone band? Plus, the cupcakes were super-tasty.
After we got out of Olympia, though, we ran face-first into a massive wall of Suck. :(
The car started making scary rattling noises and vibrations right around exit 39 on I-5, so we had to pull off, slowing down hard to try to get down to a safer speed in case we were suddenly unable to get anywhere. Dara turned on the emergency blinkers, and we limped into a Shell station to seek emergency help. The Shell station directed us to a nearby mall with a Sears with an auto service station in it, and once we got over there and let one of their guys test-drive the car, he was all “well, your front axles are screwed. They shouldn’t be this loose.”
The REALLY vexing part of this is that Dara just had the damn car looked at, and those axles had just been replaced. So either our usual mechanic chose extremely poorly with the new axles, or else our car is old enough at this point that it’s just fucked and we’re going to have to see about getting a new one.
And it was glaringly apparent that we weren’t going to make it to Forest Grove in time for the show. Moreover, there was no way we could get the car fixed before Monday. So while Dara and Jenny tried to tag team on getting the car towed to the nearest shop, I cancelled our reservation at the hotel near where Le Vent was playing tonight. I admit freely that I spent some time crying inside the mall, ’cause yeah, looking forward to this show for MONTHS. Missing this was a kick right in the heart, every bit as bad as missing a Great Big Sea show would have been. But I’ve suffered worse, and when the tow truck showed up to pick up the car, things seemed like they were looking up a bit. The driver got us to the nearby train station in plenty of time to get tickets for the next train back to Seattle. So at least, if nothing else, we’d be able to get home and spend the night in our own beds and let Jenny crash at our place before we got her home.
At the train station, though, was when Dara realized her backpack was gone.
We think she had it when we got into the cab of the tow truck. I’m pretty sure I remember asking her if she wanted to put it into the actual car, since we had to stick our suitcase in there anyway, given that there wasn’t room for that in the cab of the truck. I remember her saying no. And she remembers having the weight of the backpack on her shoulder when we got in.
What we don’t know is whether she left it behind the driver’s seat of the truck, or whether she might have left it on the bed of the truck when we got out at the train station. The driver says he couldn’t find it in the truck. So at this point we have no real idea what the hell happened to it.
Dara’s iPad and Nook were in that backpack, which sucks massively, given, y’know, expensive electronics and all. But what really hurts is that her very first bamboo piccolo was in that bag too. Popcorn, the first bamboo piccolo she made with her very own hands. On which she’s written a LOT of music. We’re talking huge sentimental value here, people, and an instrument that’s irreplaceable despite its comparatively small monetary value.
So yeah, I’m pretty upset about not getting to see Olivier Demers be awesome on the fiddle tonight–and particularly pissed off that axle trouble on a car that just had its axles replaced kept me from that. But Dara is shattered by the loss of Popcorn.
I suspect we’re going to have to spend some time just curled up together tomorrow and taking comfort in each other and possibly also snuggling the cats. Please keep your fingers crossed that we’ll get that backpack back, people. And if ANY of you know anybody in Longview or Kelso, please, please, PLEASE spread the word that we will pay a reward for its return, with its contents, no questions asked.
We take a small modicum of comfort in the knowledge that we were able to make it safely home again, and that if the car had to fail so spectacularly, at least it did it in a way that didn’t result in any of us being hurt. We’re also grateful that it broke down right at a freeway exit right in the middle of a town, where we had easily accessible people to get some level of assistance, and an easily accessible train station.
But we’re still pretty goddamn unhappy about the way today turned out. So again–please boost that signal, people. Dara has a post about it here. And now would also be a good time to share good news, or pics of cute puppies or kittens, or something. Thanks all.
So y’all know how I was gushing about my friend Susan arranging a Le Vent du Nord concert in Uxbridge?
Well, she commissioned some art by Kevin Bolk of the boys, and made some posters of that art to promote the concert, and she was handing them out as incentives to raise money for Doctors Without Borders. She also set aside a few to be used as she saw fit–and she saw fit to send ME one, because she’s just ENTIRELY AWESOME LIKE THAT.
So now I have this darling thing hanging just behind the monitor of my Mac at work. I love it so. I particularly love that Chibi!Simon’s guitar is pointed in the wrong direction, but I choose to believe that this means that Chibi!Simon is CLEARLY ambidextrous, and can play a guitar no matter what direction it’s pointing in! In fact, I would even hazard a guess that Chibi!Simon, in the grand tradition of Anime Characters Everywhere, would be able to whirl his guitar around his head in a stunning transformation sequence, playing it the entire time. And then he’d do it again with his bouzouki. Or possibly even play both instruments at once.
And it goes without saying that I totally fangirl Chibi!Olivier and his tiny violin! This, O Internets, is a situation in which the playing of a tiny violin is, in fact, GOOD. ;D
Susan, The Most Awesome Le Vent du Nord Fan on the North American Continent (and very possibly the entire northern hemisphere), has arranged a show for those boys in August in Uxbridge, Ontario! And as part of that, she got a whole mess of promotional posters! And, being the super-awesome Susan that she is, she promptly flung me an email to ask me if I wanted one!
For the record, Internets, when someone asks you if you want a poster of pretty Quebecois musicians, the correct answer is YES PLEASE I’LL HAVE SOME! I said as much to Susan, after hastily checking with the equally awesome and local Dejah to see if she wanted one too! Two please, I requested of Susan!
Internets, she sent me FOUR of these pretty things. (And she also sent me four posters! >:D ) They showed up in the mail today and I found them waiting for me when I got home tonight! Who knew four Quebecois musicians could fit into one poster tube?
spazzkat took one look at these posters and proclaimed, “That’s one sexy hurdy-gurdy!” He is quite correct!
Now to see if I can safely hang up one of these lovelies by my desk at work!
It appears that the boys of Le Vent du Nord are beefing up their application for the position of My New Favorite Band, because this morning, this happened on Facebook!
How thoughtful is that? And I mean, it ain’t like I wasn’t going to go already anyway, but if I hadn’t already known about the show they’re going to do in Oregon in November, this would TOTALLY have convinced me to!
Because oh my yes this is happening. November 10th. A Saturday, ever so delightfully enough. There will be a very likely plan of scamper down from Seattle on Saturday morning, hit the show in the evening, and hit Powell’s on Sunday afternoon before heading home again! (Because you cannot be a Pacific Northwest geek, go anywhere near Portland, and NOT go to Powell’s.) Interested parties in the Portland area are highly, HIGHLY encouraged to attend this show if possible. Do it for the podorythmie! Do it for the hurdy-gurdy! And do it for the chance to join me in showing Nicolas, Réjean, Simon, and particularly Olivier how we do La Danse Verticale in Cascadia!
Still need convincing? Three words: Tromper le Temps! You don’t even have to learn French, people, they’ve given us translations of the lyrics. Because they’re just thoughtful boys like that.
Just snagged weekend passes for Dara and me to the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival, the big festival that was our main reason for going to St. John’s to begin with–even if we’ll be skipping out on it on August 4th to scamper up to Torbay for Great Big Sea instead. :D We figured screw it, we’ll just get passes for the whole weekend anyway so we’ll be able to wander in and out at whim. Now I just need to see a full schedule for who’s playing when, since I have particular interest in seeing The Once and the Dardanelles.
Meanwhile, keeping a sharp eye on the Memoire et Racines site, waiting for tickets to be on sale for that too so I can snag passes for Dara and me for July 28th, the Day of Podorythmie! Priority interest will be with Galant Tu Perds Ton Temps and the Charbonniers, but really, my little fangirl heart is desperate to know if I get to see Le Vent du Nord twice in one year.
And speaking of Dara and me in Quebec, side note to either framlingem or scrunchions–if either of you might be interested in hosting a tiny house concert for Dara, let us know, hey? Dara’s got one for Toronto and one for Moncton, and if she could do one in Montreal, that’d make it a TOUR. ;D
And hell, for that matter, anybody following me in St. John’s, if YOU want to host Dara for a teeny house concert, we’ll have way more time to play with there than we will in Montreal! Talk to us if you want to host a Cascadian Supervillain with her Bouzouki of Mass Destruction!
Keeping a hawk’s eye on the tour Calendar on leventdunord.com just paid off. Looks like they ARE booked to play on the 28th at Memoire et Racines, the weekend that Dara and I will be in Quebec! Which means that the priority of getting to that festival for a day trip on the 28th just shot up to CRITICAL. :D Because yeah, I need me another Le Vent du Nord show STAT, and I especially want to see how they work a Francophone crowd. Also, it would be sporting of me to give them another fighting chance at my musical affections, given that Great Big Sea will be steamrollering over everything else once Dara and I reach St. John’s in August.
I also note with huge delight that Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer’s tour schedule ALSO shows July 28th (and the 29th, but the 28th is the pertinent date here). Which means that ideally I’ll get to see them too! They better not be scheduled opposite Le Vent, or else I shall be quite sad! Now all I need is to determine whether Galant Tu Perds Ton Temps is also booked on the 28th, to complete the trifecta of awesome–though really, if I get Le Vent and the Charbonniers in the same day, that’s quite a bit of awesome right there and that may be enough all by itself for me to explode from squee. :D
(Special side message to framlingem! You still in for this? Let me and Dara know! The Festival’s official full program goes online on June 14th and I’ll be getting Dara and me tickets, I want to make sure our plans can still align!)
No, you may NOT write a short story based on the Le Vent du Nord song “Le dragon de Chimay”. No matter how awesome a mental image you have in your head of a dragon breaking out of chains that hold him underground and surging up into the open air in desperate search of his lady love, and finally transforming back to human shape before her…
… damn, that’s an awesome image, innit? And it is NOT HELPING that I’m totally seeing this young woman and her “preux chevalier si tendre et amant”, as the cathedral collapses on him and he’s forced into dragon shape and she frantically tries to dig him out and no, no, no, dammit brain! You have a novel to finish and a novella to finish and a whole other novella to write and plan for all these lovely Kickstarter people throwing money at you, so STAY ON TARGET!
You are, however, totally allowed to geek right out over the translation of the lyrics, and listen to the song as many times as you like.
Because yes, folks, I like this band so much I want to write them fanfic. Or in this case, songfic!
HEL-LO, the Montreal portion of the Great Canadian Summer Adventure just got way, WAY more interesting!
I have had THIS brought to my attention–most recently by Monsieur de Grosbois-Garand, that fine gentleman who gave me the nifty flute lesson. I’d already discovered it poking around various band schedules to see if anything fascinating might crop up that could line up with my and Dara’s trip. But now, after seeing a promo pic go up on Le Vent du Nord’s Facebook page and then poking around on the actual site for the festival, I see that not only Le Vent will be involved, but ALSO the Charbonniers and Galant Tu Perd Ton Temps.
This, mes amis d’Internet, is extremely goddamn relevant to my interests, is what this is. :D
But augh the site for the festival appears to be considerably north of Montreal, at least 40 minutes’ drive and as long as 2 hours by transit. Transit seems right out as an option.
HEY framlingem and scrunchions! Don’t suppose either of you would be up for playing native guide and helping solarbird and me get to this thing, probably on the 28th as a target date? ‘Cause if I have a shot at seeing ANY of these bands live while we’re in Montreal, I am ALL. OVER. THAT. :D This might be my only shot at all to see the Charbonniers or the Galant girls!