Mouth music and musical families. Deep history and playful innovation. Quebec’s Le Vent du Nord knows how to turn the lost past into intense and beautiful performances that push their roots in striking global directions. The group is blazing a path that connects their Québecois roots to the wider world, ...
Quebec’s Musical Explorers Le Vent Du Nord Determined to Share French Speaking Canada’s Tales and Tunes with American Audiences
Quebecois quartet Le Vent du Nord know how to play with tradition. Quirky and headstrong, yet utterly committed to their Francophonic roots, the multi-award winning group is determined to share their vision of Quebec’s varied, high-energy music with the US this spring. Dubbed “Quebec’s folk heroes” by The Guardian, Le Vent du Nord weaves diatonic accordion and percussive footwork together with less expected, but perfectly blended instruments like the hurdy-gurdy and bouzouki.
“We love to dig around the very old French roots of our traditions,” Le Vent du Nord’s multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Boulerice recounts. “That’s why we use the hurdy-gurdy. It’s a French instrument, not Quebecois. But it adds something special.”
Through their terrific musicianship and exploratory approach, they have connected Quebecois musical tradition to a larger musical world, turning near-lost traditions into new and intensely dynamic performances. Renowned as ambassadors of La Francophonie, Le Vent du Nord is also acknowledged as an influential force and key player in Quebec’s progressive folk music revival.
Since the group’s founding in 2002, with more than 1600 shows under their belts, the quartet has racked up several prestigious awards, including 2 JUNOS (Canada’s Grammys), Félix, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Grand Prix du Disque Charles Cros (FR) and Artist of the Year at Folk Alliance International (USA).
Leaping from the songs and tunes on their eighth album Têtu (“Determined”), Le Vent du Nord’s new live sets hold a steady course, staying faithful to their Quebecois roots. The band takes the audience through timeless stories and songs evoking often-forgotten episodes of Quebec’s history with highly poetic descriptions. The group’s songs, be they originals or folk tunes (“Forillon,” from the Gaspe region), overcome any and all language and cultural barriers, exploring the playful and joyful, as well as the bittersweet and melancholy, sides of Quebecois heritage.
Many of these sides fire the imagination, and show the determination that inspired the group’s latest album. Songs chronicle the tribulations of a werewolf raging against the church that condemns him (“Loup-garou”), or the journey of a lover to hell to see what’s become of his beloved (“Chaise ardante”).
“Through traditional songs we discover pieces of our history,” says Boulerice. “The songs provide direct contact with a moment from long ago, showing us what life was like at that time.” Accordionist Réjean Brunet adds, “On this record we wanted to put a spotlight on the texts of the songs to bring out their stories. We wanted to show that this music is not just for parties, but can also tell us about who we are as Québécois.”
Even while honoring the past, Le Vent du Nord insists on pushing the envelope and exploring new sounds. They thrive on stunning, tight vocal arrangements, instrumental textures and the often-astounding togetherness they’ve built. It’s a show that buzzes with heavy grooves while leaving room for good times, smiles, and disarming honesty.
Standby for fantastic new music and a fresh, enduring sound.
“Québec couldn’t hope for better advocates of its folk music.” --Songlines (UK)