Long ago, Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer of what is now Eastern Canada, had a dream: that in the new territory he had explored, all might raise their voices together, indigenous and European, of all faiths, a chorus of different perspectives, cultures, and ideas. It was a dream forgotten, deferred, but one that resonates with where Canadians find themselves now.
Le Vent du Nord, feisty torch bearers of Quebecois traditional music, bring this dream (Le Pays de Samuel) and others to life on Territoires (Borealis Records) the group’s richest, most intriguing album to date. From the plight of New France (Louisbourg) to progressive social changes (Evolution Tranquille) a nod to the mid-century quiet revolution that led to Quebec’s rebirth, from mysterious monsters (Chaousaro) to love’s yearnings (Le Soir Arrive), the now five-person ensemble travels far and wide.
“We wanted to explore the quest for territories, physical or internal, or territories that don’t exist yet,” says fiddler Olivier Demers. “They are also impressions, colours and sentiments, a way of feeling, extreme joy or deep sadness.” The new album has sparked an entirely new show around these themes, a show that will be showcased at Folk Alliance International in Montreal. (the band was awarded Folk Artist of the Year at FAI in 2006!)
Le Vent du Nord’s dream has always been to bring a contemporary, highly original sensibility to the songs and melodies preserved in archives or treasured in family troves. Through thoughtful engagement with songs’ stories and artful arrangements, the ensemble pushes Quebec folk music forward, with an ear open to the world and its current travails. This means finding timely messages in long-lost tales, crafting tight and moving vocal harmonies, and getting whirling dance tunes still cherished in many towns and families to groove hard.
“We’re really added a bit of groovy stuff to this album,” says fiddler and foot tapper André Brunet, who recently joined the group after years with Quebecois legends La Bottine Souriante,“ and several songs have a riff with a bouzouki and bass. We’ve left things more open, skipping the answers in the traditional call and response sections and putting a bit of effects on the lead vocal. The sound turned out really rich.”
The richness has developed noticeably over time. With nearly 2,000 concerts, two Juno Awards, hundreds of tours across the globe, and ten albums to their credit, the band has had time to come into its own. “We are proud to call ourselves an established ensemble,” says Demers. “We’re mature and are creating at the peak of our confidence and power.”
Le Vent du Nord www.leventdunord.com
UK Tour Dates – April 2019
Thur 4. Union Chapel Compton Terrace, Islington, London N1 2XD
Tel: 020 7226 1686 Tickets £18.00 — Doors 7:00 p.m.
Fri 5. Mid Border Arts Market Hall & Assembly Rooms, Broad Street, Presteigne, Powys, Wales LD8 2AD
Tel: 01544 267163 Tickets £12.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.
Sat 6. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall (Music Room) Hope Street, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 9BP
Tel: 0151 709 3789 Tickets £21.00 & £19.00 Doors 7:30 p.m.
Sun 7. The Stoller Hall Hunts Bank, Manchester, Greater Manchester M3 1DA
Tel: 0333 130 0967 Tickets £20.00 — Doors 7:30
Tue 9. East Riding Theatre 10 Lord Roberts Rd, Beverley, Yorkshire HU17 9BE
Tel: 01482 874050 Tickets £17.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.
Wed 10. Djanogly Theatre Nottingham Lakeside Arts, University Park, Nottingham, E. Midlands NG7 2RD
Tel: 0115 846 7777 Tickets £18.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.
Thu 11. The Sage St Mary’s Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear NE8 2JR
Tel: 0191 443 4661 Tickets £17.40 — Doors 7:30 p.m.
Fri 12. Saltaire Live Victoria Hall, Victoria Rd, Saltaire, Shipley, W. Yorkshire BD18 3JS
Tel: 0113 245 5570 £18.00 — Doors 7:15 p.m.
Sat 13. Guildhall Arts Centre St Peter’s Hill, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG31 6PZ
Tel: 01476 406158 Tickets £15.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.
Sun 14. Hazlitt Theatre 36 Earl St, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1PP
Tel: 01622 758611 Tickets £15.50 — Doors 7:30 p.m.