Most awesome fiddle player of the week

Y’all remember I was gushing over “Lanlaire” by Le Vent du Nord, right, and in particular over this video of it?
That vid was super-handy in letting me figure out a few things about the song. As I’d posted before, I was able to follow the melody on my piccolo and from there figured out what key it was in. Seeing Simon Beaudry’s guitar in the vid let me figure out what set of chords he was using–i.e., that he’s got to be using D minor chords if he’s capoed on 5. (Me, I punted to E minor chords capoed on 3, which are a lot easier for me; D minor is still giving me issues if I try to play chords at any given speed.)
What I could not figure out from the video, however, is what fiddle player Olivier Demers is playing on the bridge and on the outro; he’s playing too fast for me to follow. I tried letting TunePal on my iPad listen to the recording, and it had no idea what the tune was–which is not terribly surprising, since TunePal, helpful though it is, is fairly scattershot about how well it picks up on stuff.
Turns out though that there’s a reason it had no idea what that tune was.
See, I sorta kinda emailed M. Demers and asked him about the tune. *^_^*;; The LVN boys have email links on their bio pages on their site, so I looked at Olivier’s page on Saturday, went .oO (what the hell) to myself, and clickied! Told the gentleman I was a newbie session player and a new LVN fan, and asked if he could identify the tune for me so I could maybe look it up online and learn it. (Because it’s either that or I try to transcribe it, and then learn it that way, which’ll take me a lot longer. Because I can’t play by ear well enough to try to pick out a tune without the intermediate step of transcribing it out first.)
He emailed me back! And said he actually wrote the tune himself for the song! And said he’d send me the sheet music later since he didn’t have it on that computer!
I’ve heard from a couple different directions now (hiya, !) that the LVN boys are sweethearts, and this is clear proof. Olivier Demers for me is now this week’s most awesome fiddle player! I’m going to be fangirlishly squeeing about this all week, so y’all be warned. And then I’m going to see if I actually can transcribe the tune, because it’ll be an amusing exercise, if sheet music actually shows up in my inbox, to compare against it and see if I can get it right!
*squee!*

Too much awesome for one band alone

All this starts, as many things musical do for me, with Great Big Sea! As I’ve mentioned, the first time I saw GBS perform, La Bottine Souriante was part of that show. At the time they were nine members strong, and I was almost as blown away by them as I was by GBS.
Also from GBS, I get to La Volée d’Castors. I found them thanks to a thread along the theme of “if you like Great Big Sea, you’ll also like ” on the OKP, though it took me some time to actually do anything about it–i.e., to find their music, see if I liked it, and actually buy it! I’m just sorry I didn’t find them sooner. :D
From LVC I get to Le Vent du Nord, because I found Le Vent buying LVC albums on iTunes. LVN popped up in the list of ‘people who bought this also bought’ albums. It turns out also that Réjean Brunet, current member of Le Vent, also used to be in LVC!
Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer I also discovered on iTunes when I started buying LVC and LVN albums. Again, it took me a bit to actually decide to buy their stuff–but I decided this was clearly Important when I read their web page and discovered a) they’re an a cappella group, and b) two of their members are former La Bottine Souriante guys! One of them in particular, Michel Bordeleau, was in La Bottine when I saw them perform in 2000.
De Temps Antan and Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps are my most recent acquisitions, thanks to M Kenney, who’s dropped me several comments on the topic! De Temps Antan are connected both to La Bottine Souriante AND to Le Vent du Nord, since all three guys in De Temps are either current or former La Bottine members–and Éric Beaudry is of course the brother of Simon, over in Le Vent.
The Beaudry boys are connected back to the Charbonniers, since André Marchand, current Charbonniers member, produced their album Le sort des amoureux for them.
The Galant girls are also connected to LVN, since M Kenney informs me that they, Le Vent, and the Charbonniers have all performed together, doing a song called “Diable et le Fermier”, written by Nicolas Boulerice of Le Vent. Here it is, on YouTube:

Long story short, clearly all the best bands in Quebec are tied together in one great big web of AWESOME. I love that! And I’ll be amused to see how many more ways I can find to tie all these groups together, and if there are other groups in the web as well!

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!