LE VENT DU NORD live at South Hill Park, Bracknell

Le Vent Du Nord
Photograph by Dai jeffries

Smoke swirled over the darkened stage as four shadowy figures took their places. The sound began with the drone of a hurdy-gurdy, joined by fiddle, jew’s harp and voice and lastly bouzouki. Finally the lights came up to reveal Le Vent Du Nord in all their splendour. It was an uncharacteristically sombre opening to an evening that was full of laughs.

I usually come home from a gig with a fairly accurate set-list and other notes about who did what. No chance here. The band only introduced a few of their pieces and then usually in rapid French. I fell back on plan B and tried to blag a set-list from keyboardist Nicolas Boulerice but they don’t use one. He did offer to write one up for me, though, and that’s not an offer you get every day. They did tell us that most of the material would come from their most recent album, Têtu, as did ‘Confédération’, the first song they announced by name, having a dig at Anglophone Canadians in the process.

In fact, the announcements in the first half took the form of a debate, which apparently the band had, about whether Têtu should have a terminal “s”. Everyone had to have a say in turn and the running joke got funnier and funnier. I did figure out the unaccompanied ‘La March Des Iroquois’ and ‘Petit Rêve IX’, an almost orchestral piece which begins with a lovely guitar solo played by its composer, fiddler Olivier Demers and they closed the first set with an oldie, ‘Lanlaire’.

Several things stuck in the mind after the gig. The first is the interplay of the four voices. They can stack up harmonies, pick up lines from each other and occasionally sing over each other. The second is that they do the same with melodies, passing a tune from fiddle to melodeon, to hurdy-gurdy and even jew’s harp. Finally comes the energy and fun they bring to their music. Quebecois music is, to say the least, lively and they throw everything they have into it. I was surprised that Demers, who is responsible for most of the foot percussion, was still standing at the end.

The second set opened with ‘Le Cœur De Ma Mère’ and the time just flew past. There was a bizarre moment when Demers played us a country song in French – from his iPhone – before the band sang an unaccompanied and rather more stately version. ‘Forillon’ is one of their more serious songs and they did it full justice. This isn’t a history lesson but you should look up the story. Nico introduced a song with a long, involved story about a song he found in his attic in a hand-written manuscript, learned it and performed it in France only to be told that it was a famous Parisian song that may have derived from mediaeval English. It seems that his “manuscript” was probably copied down from the radio! It was a love song but Nico neglected to name it.

Le Vent Du Nord
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

After a wild instrumental finish, they encored with the traditional ‘Vive L’Amour’ and another unaccompanied and unannounced song – perhaps I should have taken Nico up on his offer. Their performance richly deserved the standing ovation and the cheers they received. Do try to hear them while they are on tour here.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: https://leventdunord.com/en/

We’re spoiling you now – four live songs from Le Vent Du Nord:

Remaining tour dates

Monday 19. Forest Folk The North Boarhunt Village Hall & Social Club, Trampers Lane, North Boarhunt, near Wickham, Hampshire PO17 6DD
Tel: 01329 833625  Tickets £18.00 — Doors 7:30 p.m.

Monday 28 August. Shrewsbury Folk Festival West Midlands Showground, Berwick Road, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 2PF
Tel: 01743 892 800 See website for tickets and times.

First names revealed for Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2017

shrewsbury folk festival 2017

The first acts to be signed for Shrewsbury Folk Festival have been revealed as tickets go on sale for the 2017 event.

Loudon Wainwright III, Eric Bibb, former Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden, The Unthanks, Oysterband, The Young’uns, Le Vent Du Nord and Seth Lakeman are among the headliners due to top the bill during the festival next August.

Other acts signed up so far include Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders featuring the Hi Riders Special Soul Review, Jim Moray’s Upcetera Ensemble, Sarah Jarosz, John Kirkpatrick, Skipinnish, Sam Carter, Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, The Wilsons, National Youth Folk Ensemble, The East Pointers, Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys, Coven (Lady Maisery, O’Hooley & Tidow, and Grace Petrie), Mick Ryan and Paul Downes, The Fitzgeralds, Daphne’s Flight, Chris While and Julie Matthews, Maz O’Connor, Alma, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, Greg Russell (solo), Ragged Union, Moirai, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, Jamie Huddlestone, Na-Mara, Wood, Wire and Words, and the Roaring Trowmen.

The event will also host the only 2017 festival appearance of Peter Bellamy’s groundbreaking folk opera The Transports featuring The Young’uns, Faustus, Nancy Kerr, Matthew Crampton, Greg Russell and Rachael McShane.

Dance bands will include Glorystrokes, Jabadaw, Steamchicken, Boldwood, Lasair and Contrasaurus.

Next year’s festival marks 20 years since it began in Bridgnorth in 1997 and it will be the 21st event organised by directors Alan and Sandra Surtees. It will run from August 25 to 28 at the West Mid Showground in Berwick Rd, Shrewsbury.

Festival Director Alan Surtees said: “We are very excited to have secured some great musicians for 2017 at this very early stage and are in detailed negotiations with many others that we will confirm as planning progresses.

“2016 was a vintage year but with an already strong line up and our ongoing commitment to extremely high production values, we’re pretty sure that 2017 will top it!”

Adult weekend ticket prices have been held at 2016 rates. Adult weekend concession tickets are also now tiered. The festival operates a tiered system with four different price levels so people who book early, including those who are eligible for concession tickets, get the best deal. There are also day tickets on sale.

The festival has four music stages, a dance tent and runs more than 100 workshops and dedicated children and youth programmes. There is onsite camping, a craft fair, real ale, wine and cocktail bars, and a food village.

Alan added: “The feedback we had from this year was phenomenal from visitors and artists alike. The BBC 6 Music and Radio 2 presenter Mark Radcliffe described it as ‘a little bit of heaven’ and that sums it up.

“We are anticipating a very high demand for the first tier of tickets. Last year, the cheapest tickets sold out very quickly so our advice is to be prepared!”

In a change to previous years, the site will open from 7am on Friday August 25 for people with camping tickets.

Weekend, camping and day tickets can be booked through  http://shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk/ or direct at  www.gigantic.com/shrewsbury-folk-festival-tickets.

Kate Rusby and Jon Boden to star at Gate To Southwell 2017

kate rusby

British folk heroine Kate Rusby and former Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden are among the first headline acts announced to appear at the Gate To Southwell Festival next June, and reduced price tickets are now available.

Widely regarded as “the first lady of English folk music”, Kate Rusby is famous for her Mercury-nominated debut Sleepless, her acclaimed collection The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly and her Xmas album Sweet Bells. From Penistone, near Barnsley, Kate’s latest album Life In A Paper Boat has just been released.

Jon Boden is one of the most charismatic singers, composers, arrangers, fiddlers and multi-instrumentalists on the acoustic and roots music scene. Having fronted Bellowhead for 10 years, Jon is also well known for his work with John Spiers, his band The Remnant Kings and also Eliza Carthy’s Ratcatchers.

Also lined up for Britain’s most eclectic acoustic and roots music events, there’s internationally-renowned Canadian acts such as Le Vent Du Nord (who were a huge hit at the 2012 festival) and the East Pointers from Prince Edward Island, plus acclaimed Californian ukulele band the Ooks Of Hazzard (among the highlights of 2016 with their wonderful cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’) and popular English husband-and-wife folk duo Megson.

Further adding to the diverse magic of the festival, which runs from June 8th to 12th 2017, the immensely entertaining and danceable Mallorcan World music band BOC make a welcome return, having played their first gig outside Spain at Gate To Southwell back in 2015.

Following the great success of this year’s on-stage gathering to mark Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday – described as “one of those never to be forgotten festival events” by Folk Radio UK – Jim Moray will return to curate a flower-powered 50th anniversary celebration of 1967’s Summer Of Love, the original blooming of the American underground hippy movement.

If all this is not enough for roots music hungry fans, Gate To Southwell has also booked legendary American folk blues artist Chris Smither and the wittily-named Whitley Bay female collective She Shanties. These are just the first of over 50 artists booked for 2017 with negotiations underway to book more major acts soon.

Set in a superb rural site close to the lovely market town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire, the eleventh festival will showcase a mix of international acoustic and roots artists alongside local and up and coming talent, performing across four main undercover stages. With music workshops, dance displays and ceilidhs, street theatre and kids’ entertainment, great food outlets and a beer and cider festival, the Gate To Southwell 2017 is definitely a date for the diary. June 8th to 12th.

Advance tickets are on sale now via the website – www.gtsf.uk

 

BREABACH – Astar (Breabach BRE004CD)

BREABACH AstarWith most albums it’s good to have the sleeve notes to hand when listening. With Breabach’s sixth outing an atlas is just as important. Astar means distance or journey in Gaelic and the musical ideas are drawn from all round the world.

The album opens with ‘The Midnight Sun’ written by piper James Duncan Mackenzie and inspired by a visit he paid to Tromso to run a marathon on midsummers day when the sun never actually sets. It begins with an oddly oriental sound, presumably an attempt to imitate the sound of a kantele. That is followed by a set of three compositions inspired by the rhythms of the Haka. The parts of ‘Muriwai’ are written by Calum MacCrimmon, Scott Morrison and Mackenzie.

There is brief return to Scotland with Dick Gaughan’s ‘Outlaws And Dreamers’ before we’re off to Scandinavia again with ‘Farsund’, the title track of the medley being composed by Megan Henderson. The third part of the medley is the first traditional tune on the album, ‘Wee Totum Fog’, which itself has an interesting history. ‘Mo Thruaighe Leir Thu ‘Ille Bhuidhe’ gives Megan her first lead vocal of the collection and then we’re off again, this time to Australia. ‘The White Sands Of Jervis Bay’ begins with a ceremonial song from the Aborigine tradition called ‘Guka Manikay’ while MacCrimmon and Mackenzie composed the title piece. It’s interesting to note that no-one seems to have come up with a more politically correct term for the original inhabitants of Australia.

‘Les Pieds Joyeaux’ is inspired by the Quebeçois tradition even though the tunes themselves are Scottish – Le Vent Du Nord join Breabach on vocals for this one. Then there is a visit to the Hebrides for a waulking song and a tune inspired by the waulking rhythm. It would be appropriate to stay in Scotland now but Ewan Robertson’s ‘Ribbon Of Fire’ is a song inspired by the band’s tour of the antipodes and ‘The Last March’ takes us to Cape Breton.

Astar is an album full of musical imagery and imagination – a melting pot of ideas that is varied and satisfying. This could be Beabach’s best.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: http://breabach.com/

Breabach live on their 2015 Highland Blast tour:

Le Vent Du Nord – new album

tetu

Quebec’s most progressive folk band Le Vent du Nord return with their eighth album entitled Têtu meaning stubborn or obstinate. For the purpose of clarity the band write Têtu in everyday usage whilst the CD booklet showing TÉtu is purely for the group’s artwork.

With Têtu, Le Vent du Nord have remained true to their Québecois roots whilst at the same time introducing new ideas to their music. The album is made up of fifteen tracks with subject matter ranging from politics to love and satire. They vary from stripped-down a cappella singing to sophisticated arrangements, including the introduction of a string quartet.

Le Vent du Nord’s music is definitely getting sharper, more refined, and ever more thoughtful. Continue reading Le Vent Du Nord – new album

Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 3

wb3_300Those following this blog will know that it would not be complete without an early morning campsite folking shower report – although those on-site would have had a deluge of their own later in the day when KT “rain goddess” Tunstall took to the stage and opened the heavens – but more on that later. My first shower was at 5.00am, an hour earlier than the day before! Perhaps it was the excitement of the previous 2 days, or perhaps it was just the the showers but Cambridge was not awarding me much sleep.

Breabach danceAs I was finishing the day 2 blog We Banjo 3 took to the main stage, a quintet from Galway playing Irish, bluegrass and American old time music. From what I saw on the #CFF13 @CamFolkFest twitter feed they were definitely making many instant fans and got Saturday stage 1 off to a rousing start. Next up were the mighty Breabach, a tour de force in the Scottish music scene. They had a great array of weaponry on hand including: highland bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, double bass, mandolin, bazouki and even included a set dance by fiddle payer, Megan Henderson.

Saturday Cambs FF CrowdBoth SOC (Son of Clicker – the folking photographer) and I knew that getting to see everything today was going to be tough with all 3 stages in full swing. In fact panic set in and we ran around like headless chickens for a bit until coming to our senses and catching the end of the Festival Session, hosted by Battlefield Band and Feast of Fiddles academic legend Brian McNeil. This was a one off line-up featuring: The Chair, Frigg, The Rambling Boys of Pleasure, Radio 2 young folk award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, Martin Simpson, Le Vent du Nord and We Banjo 3 again.

Hop and a skip back to the Stage 1 to see Martin Simpson performing a guitar master class wrapped up in his usual exemplary solo set kind of way which included favourites like the you were never any good with money gem Prodigal Son and Jackie and Murphy, a story song of an epic true tale of bravery, donkeys and Gallipoli.

Thea Gilmore CFFManaged to then catch the end of the talented and velvet voiced Heidi Talbot on stage 2 as she left us all going up and down her music tree, Korrontzi from Northern Spain were next up and made you feel part of a Basque hill town knees up for a short while (it was great to see Thea Gilmore dancing along to them back stage). It wasn’t long until Thea took center stage with her full band line up which included producer, husband and multi-instrumentalist Nigel Stonier. Thea definitely showed off her folk credentials by giving us a faultless performance of Pity the Poor Immigrant. Thea then belted out the Radio 2 A listed song Start As We Mean To Go On, before ending with what for me was the highlight of the day, a perfect rendition to the stunning London with her little lad taking center stage on the fiddle. Sandy Denny who wrote the lyrics to this song is my folk heroine and Thea is equally addictive.

There was only one way to come down and that was to head over to the club tent and catch State Of The Union, aka Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams. In the grand tradition of ‘The Special Relationship’, State Of The Union combines the talents of America and England, producing an end result that delighted the club tent crowd with hook-laden songs, fiery and emotional guitar playing and soulful vocals. By this time I had a few jars of Ringwood’s finest Boon Doggle ale and was amusing myself by keeping the girls at the bar on their toes and coming up with different names for it. The firm favourite was Moon Poodle!

Fully Protected & The Moon PoodleThe Moon Poodle was listening as the heavens opened and the poodle piddled down on us as KT Tunstall hit the stage. A great set followed, my favourite being Other Side of the World or dark side of the poodle moon by the Black horse and a cherry tree, no that one actually came later… but don’t blame it on the Sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, blame it on the Boggle. I was past caring as I was now focused on keeping the umbrella in the right place for KT’s Mexican “brella” wave!

I caught a bit of the Mavericks but it was definitely time to head back to Coldham’s before I did myself mischief…

The folkmaster