Hello, everyone!

If you are around Quebec during the end of February, stop by the Festival de Musique de St. Bernard de Michaudville to enjoy all the fun of the Quebecois traditional arts. Many of the bands I mention here will be performing during these days. Although the 5th edition of the Fest is announced from the 22nd till 24th, the party starts the previous day with a special evening programmed.

The festival has as its international ambassador our dear friend Benoit Pelletier Shoja, French-American from New Hampshire that always did a great job divulging the Quebecois Traditional Musique and is an assured presence in the majority of festivals in the genre in Quebec.


Some say February 13th, others April 29th, I even found places saying May 13th... But none deny that Genticorum´s 3rd album is about to be launched: La Bibournoise will be available soon for the joy of their fans...

The French-Canadian band is planning on a special night at the famous Lion d'Or in Montréal for the launching of their new album, although many fans are already enjoying some of those tunes during the band´s shows in Canada.

Keep tuned for confirmation!


Hello, everyone!

Last year, my dear friend Laura went to this Workshop in West Virginia and promised me a review of the entire event. Despite the delay, she finally reported back on this and I’m sharing her thoughts with you all. I hope you enjoy it!

completely jealous...

PS: I couldn’t resist and added few comments around. :) Feel free to add yours too!

Genticorum Gives Workshops at Upper Potomac Celtic Fiddle and Feet Weekend

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, is the scene of an annual meeting of musicians, dancers and teachers, performing, playing, sharing and learning the traditional music from Ireland, Scotland and Québec. The Upper Potomac Celtic Fiddle and Feet Weekend was held last November 16th to 18th, and the participants were in for a rare treat!

The list of teachers included the talented artists Laura Risk (Scottish Fiddle), Ken Kolodner (hammered dulcimer), Robin Bullock (mandolin, guitar, repertoire), Kieran Jordan (step dance), Cleek Shrey (Irish fiddle), and the French-Canadian band Genticorum.

The brilliant trio from Québec taught classes on fiddle, guitar, dance and singing, besides offering a special repertoire class opened to all instrumentalists. In addition, they played one evening for a ceilí [also written as céilidh that is the traditional Gaelic social dance in Ireland, Scotland and Atlantic Canada], and gave a concert during another.

I took the repertoire classes given by Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand, who plays flute and electric bass in the band. During these classes, he also treated us to a couple of tunes on the fiddle - an instrument he claims he is "still learning". He taught the class to a wide variety of musicians (fiddle, flute, whistle, uilleann pipes, and even a couple of harps). The reels and 6/8 jigs are familiar to Irish and Scottish musicians, with some stylistic differences. The Reel Issoudun, was described by Alexander as "crooked...but not TOO crooked!", to mention one of these tunes…

He also took the time to teach us dance styles unique to Québec: the brandy, which he described as a 3-beat reel, the galope, and the gigue. The gigue, by the way, should not be confused with the jig, a dance style in 6/8 or 9/8. A gigue is a step dance tune, normally in 2/2.

I feel that my repertoire and my knowledge have been greatly enriched by these classes, though as a harper, I am also left with some perplexing dilemmas about how to arrange this music for harp in such a way as to retain its character, without ending up sounding too Irish! I aslo took a singing class with Yann Falquet [I envy you!!] which was pure joy! In the band, Yann plays guitar and guimbarde (jaw harp) and for the most part does backing vocals. Yann was an excellent teacher, explaining the history of the songs as well as nuances of the French language not immediately apparent to us, English-speakers; all with his delightfully naughty sense of humor! In fact, his insights allowed us to understand just how dirty some of these songs really are. This is not true of every song, however. As Yann says, "Sometimes a sausage is just a sausage!" At this point of my review, I know that Bengal might be so jealows! [You are SO right!]

Saturday night, all the instructors who taught at the festival gave a concert. Genticorum played for the entire second half of the program. A day prior to the beginning of this festival, the band performed in Germantown, Maryland - a concert that I also attended. [photo] Anyone familiar with the band's two CDs, Le Galarneau, and Malins Plaisirs will know that the music is excellent, but what is not apparent until one sees them perform on stage is the spontaneous humor and fun that soon spills out onto the audience. Although if you read the CD notes - I do recommend, you will get some idea of what you're in for! :) Genticorum performed several old favorites from the two existing albums, such as Les Cousinages, La belle en vous aimant, and that whirlwind of reels they have dubbed Cyclone. They also gave us a taste of coming delights which will be on their next album [scheduled for this Feb 13th], such as Le Moine Blanc that tell us the story of a monk, a girl, and a bottle of ink. You can guess the rest… ;)

Besides all these delights, there were open sessions at the hotel every night of the weekend, where participants had the opportunity to play with and share tunes with all the instructors at the festival. These sessions went on into the wee hours of the morning.

The weekend ended with another opened workshop with all the members of Genticorum (another rare treat). Yann taught us a couple of tunes on the button accordion - an instrument that at least so far he does not use on stage (but should!). This last meeting included tunes, songs, some general information, and even lessons on foot tapping given by Pascal Gemme, the band's fiddle player and lead vocalist [that keeps a very interesting blog, you can check here]. Ah, foot tapping… This is perhaps my way out of the dilemma about "sounding too Irish". Pascal says that foot tapping takes five minutes to learn and five years to master. [Ha! I know exactly what he means!!] I am still practicing...


Hello, everyone!

This is a quick tip for all of you looking for a gig/job in Arts.
Check this link and good luck!


Hello, everyone!

Let's start the New Year with a so expected interview. Many readers asked and here it is: Benoit Bourque.

Bourque is the person that introduced me to the Quebecois Traditional Music and Dance. Before that, I had no idea of Québec and its rich culture. Then, I discovered the talents of so many artists such as Genticorum, Bernard Simard, Le Rêve du Diable, and many more. In this sense, I have much to thank him.

I first met Benoit Bourque in Texas (2005) and his stage presence, charisma, contagious energy and dance steps instantly thrilled me. He charmed the entire audience! Bourque has loyal followers since the beginning of his career while playing with many bands such as Advielle Que Pourra, Matapat and Le Vent du Nord. I could meet many of his fans through these years while learning more about Québec history and arts.

Bourque co-hosted the Canadian Folk Music Awards last December, and today we talk about his present and future. Without further ado, here is our interview:

Bengal: Hi, Benoit! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Benoit Bourque: Merci, it’s always a pleasure.

Bengal: Benoit, can you tell us a bit about your artistic background, how you started in music and dance?

Benoit: I come from a musical family: my dad played trumpet, my brothers (4) and sisters (3): saxophone, trombone, guitar, keyboard, recorders, ukulele. We all sang different kind of songs (traditional, pop, etc...) I start playing the guitar at first and very little keyboard to switch to clarinet when I was about 8 years old. Later, at the age of 13, I started to dance to meet girls. [laughs] At first I learned International traditional dances to finally focus on Québec dances and step dancing.

Bengal: An early talent! Is there anyone else from your family playing, dancing or singing professionally?

Benoit: Nobody in my family made a living with arts: for my parents, music was a hobby so my mom said [to me] for years: ''Did you find a REAL job?'' [laughs]

Bengal: And your family now, the children? Are they following the steps [pun intended] of the father?

Benoit: They all touched music: Mathilde (27) piano, Vincent (25) has played electric bass, guitar and DJ, Jasmine (22) has done very little violin but always love to sing, Antoine (17) is the only one who really study music (in college): he plays piano, tuba and piano-accordion.

Bengal: Why Quebecois Traditional music and not another style?

Benoit: I always loved to sing the traditional songs from Québec: this has been my start from my family. When I started the dance at 13, it became a natural thing to do trad.

Bengal: Why step dance and not other type?

Benoit: I do step dancing what we call in Québec: gigue. The first time I have seen it was with a big guy who was doing simple steps but he really looked so light!! [laughs]

Bengal: Surely you can do the same! Coming from a big family that could play all sorts of musical instruments, you might have learned many. Which instruments do you play, Benoit?

Benoit: I play bones, spoons, button accordions, guitar and some mandolin, recorder, bohdran and piano.

Bengal: How do you see the Quebecois Traditional Music expanding frontiers?

Benoit: I think that Québec trad is becoming slowly but surely one of the new fashion in the folk milieu in North America. It's comparable to Cajun music 25 years ago.

Bengal: You have a vast knowledge of the musical history behind Quebecois Trad and you have been part of this environment for a while, developing many different types of projects, and surely meeting many of the artists in this milieu...

Benoit: I surely don't know all of them but I know many, many of them. It's hard to know all of them especially that we have now more and more young musicians who do it.

Bengal: One of your talents, present in many projects, is composition. When did you start to compose? Do you have a method for that, what inspires you?

Benoit: I started when I was a teen with my friends... a few compositions on guitar... most of those songs were funny songs. In 1982, I wrote La Valse Matique while I was on an asthma attack (I was feeling romantic). [Benoit is the only artist I know that would compose under an asthma attack!!] I don't have a real method but I often start the composition on one instrument to switch to another one to keep going.

Bengal: Recently I had the opportunity to meet Marc Benoit, former Eritage, that told me about many of the shows, the TV experience and the recognition in Québec. How was your experience with Eritage?

Benoit: Marc Benoit was the standup bass and guitar player in the band. I enormously enjoyed my 6 years with them and I quit because of the family... Carole, my wife, was pregnant of our 3rd child. I started to discover the Canadian folk milieu with this group, and the USA one with Advielle Que Pourra and Matapat.

Bengal: Recently you announced your MySpace page where everybody can have access to your future shows and activities. Can you tell us a little about these future plans?

Benoit: In fact, I have so many projects that I cannot talk about it now. Some of the gigs are solo, some duo, some trio but I have bigger projects to come. For the first time in my life, I started to put on my solo show and I have a 50 minutes ready by now. At the moment, I’m also working on music therapy with the elderly.

Bengal: Benoit, last December you co-hosted the CFMA. How was that experience? You are one of the previous CFMA winners yourself, how does it feel?

Benoit: I have been many time a Master of Ceremony for different festivals but it is first time for an award ceremony. I felt like a fish in water: the folk milieu is mine for so long and I love this milieu. One of the tension that I had with Matapat and Le Vent du Nord was their huge ambitions!! They both wanted to be the best. This is not the folk approach but the pop approach. I prefer much more the folk approach.

Bengal: Which artists you admire the most?

Benoit: All of them who are committed to social changes: we need much more peoples who are left wing thinkers.

Bengal: Which was the most gratifying moment of your career so far?

Benoit: In 1988, when I was in Moscow: peoples were extremely friendly and intense: it was almost a dream.

Bengal: And can you tell us the funniest thing that ever happened on stage?

Benoit: One of my friend who is a good fiddler but speaks slowly: once he felt down his chair (one of the legs found a hole in the stage floor) but very slowly.

Bengal: Benoit, thanks for your time and all the entertainment!

Benoit: Merci! The pleasure was mine!

If you are interested in more information about Benoit Bourque, you are welcome to visit his official MySpace where you can also listen to some of his compositions.


Hello, everybody!!

It's great to be back. I hope you all had the best Holiday Season ever. Next big holiday: Carnival. Well, I'm spending vacations in Brazil and will bring some news on that too! :)

Right now, I guess we are all ready for the New Year's adventures to come - shows, festivals, new talents, new great albums, etc.. I have already a group of new events to announce here, and very interesting interviews with names as Benoit Bourque, Marc Gunn, François Corbier, and many others. Stay tuned for all that is to come!

Have the healthiest and most musical New Year!

in the rhythm of samba...