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. >:|

Le Vent du Nord at the Rogue in Vancouver BC, 1/27/2016

As I’ve already written about several times on my blog, it’s always a pleasure to hear Le Vent du Nord perform–although this time, it was on a seriously rainy Wednesday night at the Rogue. Yet the loyal fans filled the place nonetheless!
This time too we actually were without Olivier Demers. If you’ve been following my posts and have seen my earlier Le Vent concert posts, you know Olo’s my favorite of all the members of the group! (And I’m not just saying that because he follows me on Facebook and therefore might actually read this. Auquel cas je dois dire SALUT OLO!)
But this time he had to stay home, due to having a death in his family. :( He posted to his Facebook wall that his father had passed away just a couple of days before the show. (And I was simultaneously very sad to hear the news and a bit relieved to have been warned about it in advance, because if I’d shown up without knowing M. Demers wouldn’t be on hand, I would have been even sadder!)
So Le Vent had to pull in Jean-François Gagnon Branchaud as emergency backup fiddler. If you know Quebecois trad, you may well recognize his name as one of the two fiddlers currently playing with La Bottine Souriante, who also sings some lead on La Bottine’s last album. And if you know La Bottine, you know that anybody who plays for them is guaranteed to bring their A game to a stage. Jean-François did not disappoint, and so even though we all missed Olivier, it was still a delightful show!
Let’s get down to the details, shall we?
Continue reading “Le Vent du Nord at the Rogue in Vancouver BC, 1/27/2016”

Victoria/Cumberland 2014 Trip, Day 4: Le Vent du Nord at the Cumberland Hotel, 3/11/2014

And now, O Internets, the second to last post of my Victoria and Cumberland vacation series–in which Dara, , , and I all had the supreme pleasure of getting to see Le Vent du Nord play at the Cumberland Hotel!
Previously in this particular adventure, Dara and I saw Le Vent in Victoria! And then we explored a bunch of rocks before Dara sang that night! And then we explored Cumberland and sang some more!
It’s truly fitting that we wound up the trip with one hell of a gig out of les gars. Because don’t get me wrong, you guys–I enjoyed the symphony show immensely, but even after only four shows’ worth of experience, I’m here to tell you that the best way to enjoy Le Vent du Nord is in a tiny, cozy venue. Preferably front row center. With a MAMMOTH.
Continue reading “Victoria/Cumberland 2014 Trip, Day 4: Le Vent du Nord at the Cumberland Hotel, 3/11/2014”

Victoria/Cumberland 2014 trip, Day 1: Le Vent du Nord at the Royal Theater, Victoria BC, 3/8/2014

And now, to start documenting my and Dara’s recent excellent trip up to Victoria, to see Le Vent du Nord! Saturday the 8th was when the adventure got underway–when we headed up to Victoria in the morning, for the symphony show to take place that night!
Continue reading “Victoria/Cumberland 2014 trip, Day 1: Le Vent du Nord at the Royal Theater, Victoria BC, 3/8/2014”

Quebec tunes sheet music

I had a couple different people hitting my site today looking for sheet music to La Bottine Souriante tunes–specifically, “Hommage à Philippe Brunea” and “Valse d’hiver”.
Since I am not actually a sheet music site, I direct interested parties to these links:

Failing either of those, TheSession.org may be able to help you. I’ve periodically found Quebec tunes there, though I use it as a tertiary resource.
You may or may not be able to find tunes composed by specific Quebec artists. I’ve found things composed by André Brunet (who in fact has a few of his tunes available in PDF form here, along with tunes by a couple of other people), and a couple of things composed by Olivier Demers (“Gigue à trois”, which is on the Montreal session tunebook site) and the guys in Genticorum (again on the Montreal site, but a couple on TheSession.org as well–notably for them I’ve found “Violon guérisseur” and “Valse de poeles”, the first on the Montreal session site and the second on TheSession.org).
I will also note that the lovely people at the core of the session I go to, La Famille Leger, have a collection of accordion-friendly tunes right over here. I note also that I am NOT an accordion player, but as I am a flautist, stuff that’s easily playable in D is very friendly to my flutes.
Happy tunes hunting, my fellow instrumentalists!

Le Vent du Nord at Hermann's Jazz Club, Victoria BC, 4/6/2013

I made absolutely no secret of how crushed I was, Internets, when I missed Le Vent du Nord’s Oregon show this past November. And I was quite disappointed as well when the symphony show in Vancouver was cancelled.
But tonight, I am thrilled to report that the show at Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria, BC, completely and utterly made up for both of these things. It was short but tight, and a truly intimate little show. And OMG YOU GUYS, Dara and I managed to snag a table right smack in front of the stage!
Clickie for the in-depth show report goodness!
Continue reading “Le Vent du Nord at Hermann's Jazz Club, Victoria BC, 4/6/2013”

And now, in praise of supremely awesome people

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:

Oh Dear I Think My Screen Just Got a Little Blurry *^_^*;;
Oh Dear I Think My Screen Just Got a Little Blurry *^_^*;;

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:
Le soleil dessus l'eau
Le soleil dessus l’eau

Go, people! Buy Tromper le temps! And while you’re at it, buy Dejah’s album too!
Because when beautiful music is made by supremely awesome people, the sun itself will sing.