My narrative about my trip to Quebec will start by the final destination: Quebec City. I can go on and on about the beautiful landscapes, the well-preserved architecture and the very French ambience, but I’ll skip all that in favor of the captivating people gathered at this local pub exactly 2 weeks ago.

On Tuesdays nights, Pub Le Nelligan’s in Quebec City receives a group of talented musicians of all levels. Carrying their many instruments, they gather around tables, drinks and a piano, to play music with a variety of influences from Irish, Celtic, Acadian, French and my all time favorite style, the Quebecois Traditional Music (that is basically a mix of all the previous).

My dear friend from Portneuf, Gaétan Morissette – member of the Duo Morissette-Dumont, invited me to stop by and enjoy the jam session. My first surprise was to run into a group of artists I just saw on stage and out at the Chants de Vielles festival, two days earlier. During all the night, once one tune was reaching the end, someone would already start a new one. Instruments would come and go, especially when these musicians usually play more than one. Guitars, fiddles, bodhrans, accordions and even one piano would compose the musical scene. Among the many artists having fun that night, I can name some:

1. Céline Fortin (mother of Antoine Gauthier from the band Les Chauffeurs à Pieds) shared the piano with equally talented (and also a fiddle player) Gaétan Lefèbvre.

2. Martin Racine, former member of long time of La Bottine Souriante, he plays now with the quebecois bands Le Train Qui Roule and Matching Keys. The last one is a group inspired by the Irish traditional music, although the group also presents a Celtic version of the song Whisky in the jar (Metallica). Despite all the crowded agenda, Martin still finds the time to be the artistic director for the École de Québec that also has Sophie Pomerleau as its director. This is a project developed by the Jeunes Musiciens du Monde. And Sophie Pomerleau was also at the pub with us!

3. Another great talent that joined the group at Nelligan’s is Louis-Simon Lemieux. He plays in a duet with his father, Daniel Lemieux, and also in the recently launched quartet Pères de Fils with Pierre-Léon and Bernard Simard. In the past, Louis-Simon was member of the band Les Chauffeurs à Pieds.

4. Claude Huot was having a great time playing his many bodhrans that night. He is a dear friend of Gaétan and told me many old stories about the pub and the people there. I just hope he could understand half of my poor French… and maybe next time he can tell me more about his very interesting musical instrument.

5. Hélène Fournier and Hervé Guillemer are a couple connected by the music… they came from Bretagne and live their romance in between these two countries… Canada and France seem so close when you meet them! They bring their Breton roots to the Quebecois Traditional Music… Check there story here.

6. Paul Marchand, the famous Quebecois guitar player, also stopped by but after playing so many times during Chants de Vielles – he was one of the main attractions in the fest; he spent his night enjoying the music but relaxing in another corner.

7. Martin Bouchard, a well-known artistic painter that also plays the fiddle very well, brought his girl to enjoy the night and meet friends. As you can see, the environment is very friendly, diverse and cozy!

8. François Morissette was the guitar player of the night. He also participate in many bands such as Les Batinses, Le Train Qui Roule and Matching Keys.

9. Completing the fiddle players that night, we had Mario Saint-Germain that knows so many tunes, and Cassandre Lambert-Pellerin that comes from Drummondville, the city that hosts the famous International Folklore Festival every July. Cassandre brought to this session her friend Francis Demers that basically amazed me with his skills playing the bones!

It was a great night and so many others stopped by to play, to be among friends, to drink and have fun. Certainly this is a place I’ll be going back many times… If you are also curious, take note: Pub Le Nelligan’s at 789, Cote St-Geneviève, Quebec City, QC, Canada. The owner of the place is called Peter Farell and the phone number of the place is (418) 529-7817 or (418) 522-6504.


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