Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hibernation is over

Le Vent du Nord is a lively breath of musical air

Express Staff Writer

This Canadian import is one audiences are guaranteed to want to keep.
Photo Credit Stephane Najman

    In Cajun country, you would call the blend of tradtional folk music a gumbo. In Ireland, a stew. If it’s a healthy dose of all that with a splash of Quebecois, it’s Le Vent du Nord.
    This quartet—alternately raucous and triumphant while regularly sublime—will entertain audiences on Saturday, March 22, as guests of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. The show will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Sun Valley Opera House.
    Heralded as both traditional and progressive, Le Vent du Nord over the span of a concert gives audiences a complete workover with foot-stomping dance tunes featuring fiddles, hurdy-gurdy, guitar, bouzouki and accordian laces with haunting a cappella melodies.
    Theirs is a zesty-style fit for warming a long wintered earth and coming to Ketchum on the heels of Mardi Gras and St. Paddy’s Day romps.
    Political, if you speak French, the award-winning group drives the soul out of hibernation regardless. They are a mighty wind from the north—that’s the literal translation of their name—with an all-for one-and-one-for-all style that feels like a family. While not directly related, they are family by choice and history.
    Nicolas Boulerice studied at the knee of his father and traveled to Ireland and France to learn to play the hurdy-gurdy instrument. Simon Beaudry inherited his musical background from his grandfathers. Olivier Demers is a violinist and guitarist who started out in chamber music and moved to jazz. Rejean Brunet has been playing Quebecois traditional music since he was a boy and, like Simon, performed first with his brother.  
     The band breezed through a few questions before their upcoming concert.
IME: As you take this sound on the road, is there a methodology? Are you choosing places with French influence? Or, just music lovers in general?
We just play where people invite us. But we choose which part of the world we want to focus on. It’s always a surprise. French come to see concerts everywhere in the world, but we rarely play just for them.
Between Mardi Gras and St. Paddy’s Day, March in America is a month of reconnecting with the homeland musically. Your music is similar in its soul tugging—are there overlapping genres?
Yes, there are links between those genres. The Irish music influence is very much our tradition. After the big famine in Ireland, a lot of immigrants came to Montréal, like all over North America. They were poor—like us—Catholic–like us—and against the British—like us.
    We share the fiddle music but not the songs because our languages were different. About Mardi Gras, some cities in Québec still have festivities, but not everywhere. The French who were deported in the South of what is the U.S. now kept those nice traditions. It is more Acadian fest than Québec fest.
I haven’t heard all of your music, but it seems while each instrument is distinct and given the spotlight, the voice portion is in harmony. Did you make a conscious decision to put the music out front or are vocals equally as important?
Yes, we really try to make a good balance of everything. It’s nice to let each instrument have a moment and let them blend in all the color possibilities. Same with the voices. We like to play with the differences in our kind of vocals tones.

Just so nothing gets lost in the translation, can you fill in these blanks?
Your music is best paired with?
    What setting: Kitchen.
    What clothing: Winter coat.
    What drink: Caribou: Hot red wine with whiskey and cinnamon.
    What time of day: 24/7.
    What time of year: All year long.
Is your music better for dancing or driving?

Well, the Sun Valley Opera House where you will play is in the shadow of the fabulous Sun Valley Resort pool …

Tickets cost $20 for Sun Valley Center for the Arts members, $30 for non-members and $10 for students 18 and under. Visit


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