The multi award-winning band, Le Vent du Nord (the Wind of the North) have toured the world, playing over 2,000 concerts and are about to release their 11th album, 20 Printemps (20 Springtimes), to mark their 20th anniversary in 2022.
The five-piece band hail from Québec – the second largest state in Canada with a population of around 8 million. French is the official language of Québec, the only French speaking state in North America, and it’s spoken by 80% of the population who are largely multilingual. The Québécois, as the people from this region are known, are surrounded by around 350 million Anglophones. It’s this fact that undoubtedly plays a significant part in the group’s raison d’être: to tirelessly champion Québécois’ vibrant and diverse music and culture, often overshadowed and under threat from Anglophone dominance. Indeed over the last two decades Le Vent du Nord have become the unofficial cultural ambassadors of French-speaking Canada.
They are often described as being ‘protectors’ or ‘guardians’ of the tradition but also as ‘innovators’. In truth, they are highly respectful of their history and traditions, while at the same time, constantly moving forward and evolving their songwriting and music.
The title of their new album, 20 Printemps, is an apt one as springtime signifies rebirth and rejuvenation – hallmarks of a band that over the course of 20 years has continued to expand and develop its musical vision. The dozen tracks feature many of the band’s trademarks: the call-and-response vocals, sublime harmonies, energetic podorythmie (foot tapping) and hurdy gurdy playing that drive the rhythm of the tunes.
Like many of their previous releases, their forthcoming album is a delightful mix of their own compositions and also traditional songs and tunes, sourced from national archives and song collecting friends.
Standout tracks include ‘Dans L’Eau de Vie de l’Arbre’, a song about Canada’s most famous culinary export, maple syrup, along with traditional songs reinterpreted in their own unique style, such as ‘Ma Louise’ and Vos Amitiés La Belle’. The new compositions, like ‘Amériquois’ underline the group’s commitment to highlighting their country’s history. Not forgetting, of course, the instrumental tracks that demonstrate their superb musicianship, in particular the opening and closing tunes ‘Tour du Monde’ and ‘Petit Reve IV’.
Over the years of constant touring, they have won fans across the world and collaborated with a variety of international artists, including The Chieftains, Väsen, Dervish, Breabach, Julie Fowlis, fellow French-Canadian group De Temps Antan and most recently the Symphony Orchestra of Québec. These collaborations simply emphasise the versatility and musicality of a band that continues to elevate its profile with captivating harmonies and top-class musicianship. They are consummate entertainers too – both on and off stage – and their charismatic onstage rapport testifies to the fact that they are not just band members, but also good friends. There’s undeniably a great sense of pride in what they have achieved to date; however as longstanding band member Olivier Demers asserts, it’s not a time to be nostalgic but to look forward to what’s coming next as they are simply celebrating ‘their first 20 years’.
The album is dedicated to their friend and former bandmate Bernard Simard.
Artists’ website: https://www.facebook.com/LeVentduNord