A harmonious palette of song and music that spans traditional blended with contemporary, roots and rock fusion Celtic, Gypsy jazz and avant-garde folk styling set the rhythm for Edmonton chante, Edmonton’s Francophone music festival, June 23-25, 2006 in the park at Maurice-Lavallée School (95 Street & 88 Avenue) overlooking Mill Creek Ravine.
Headlining this year’s Edmonton chante, Quebec sextet Mauvais Sort bring their unique mix of conventional lyrics and contemporary musical arrangements with original stories and old folk songs to the festival on Saturday, June 24. With an eclectic collection of musical genres, Mauvais Sort defies all preconceived notions about traditional music by melding these influences. Mauvais Sort’s high-energy musical stylings and passionate reinterpretation of folk music has led to a new phase for their sound: neo-traditional.
Mauvais Sort’s much-anticipated third CD, Koru, was released in November 2005 on the Disc Ms label. Their second CD, Jettatura was nominated for the ADISQ Award for Album of the Year-Traditional in the fall of 2003. They released their first CD, Sans dessus dessous in 2000. Mauvais Sort is comprised of Nicolas Geoffroy (lead vocals, guitar), Stéphanie Richard (vocals, accordion), Patrick Giroux (violin), Guillaume Côté (vocals, percussion) and Christian Jacques (bass).
Edmonton chante will be jigging and reeling on Friday, June 23, with one of Canada’s most popular and innovative Celtic bands, Les McDades. The group will be performing new material from their upcoming CD along with other favorite tunes. Renowned for their tilt on traditional Canadian music, Les McDades builds on the folk framework by injecting roots, rock, jazz and swing into Celtic and Quebecois tunes. Siblings Solon McDade (bass) and Jeremiah McDade (woodwinds), along with Shannon Johnson (fiddle) grew up playing music together with The McDade Family Band, before turning heads across the country during the ’90s with folk musician Bill Bourne. Members have two Juno nominations to their credit, thanks to Johnson’s collaboration with Bourne on Victory Train, and their sessions with Edmonton performer Maria Dunn on For A Song. With a 2003 CD release, For Reel, under their belts and teaming up with François Taillefer (drums) and Yann Falquet (guitar), Les McDades is a tight quintet that punches through the boundaries of traditional Celtic music.
Local favorites Swing Manouche, an all-acoustic quartet that plays early American jazz in the style of the French Gypsies, take to Edmonton chante’s stage on Saturday, June 24. Led by singer and guitar player Ben Sures, this year’s winner of the prestigious John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Swing Manouche offers up the charm and aesthetics of the original swing bands of the ’30s and ’40s. Rounding out the group is violinist Cam Neufeld (notorious for chops reminiscent of Stephane Grapelli and Joe Venuti), upright bassist Jeff Smook (of Captain Tractor and Rockin’ Highliners) fame, and Dave Merriman (renowned for his work with the likes of Les McDades and Maria Dunn).
The avant-garde folk style of Manitoba songwriter BenWah’s (aka Benoit Morier) has earned him a colourful reputation on the festival circuit. His material, influenced by his time in France and a brief stint in Western Africa, draw from folk, alternative, reggae and country. When BenWah is not is the studio recording his own songs, he produces soundtracks for documentaries that have screened at national and international film festivals. BenWah will be performing with his backup band The Athletics consisting of Sarah Dugas (drums), Andrina Turenne (electrical guitar) and Kathryn Yee (bass) at Edmonton chante on Friday, June 23.
One of the fastest rising fiddling stars in the country, Daniel Gervais appears at Edmonton chante on Sunday, June 25. Gervais, the winner of Wild Rose Old Tyme Fiddlers Association 2006 and the 2005 Grand North American (Traditional) competition, also represented Alberta at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship. His winning ways with the fiddle has made Gervais popular with folk and roots audiences.
Rounding out this year’s festival are performances by the Raquette à claquettes, Les frères Damer (Pleïades), GoJo, ChicoutiGuy and special appearances by local singers as part of the Francophiles. Edmonton chante also features music workshops, street performers, exhibits, children’s activities and food and beverages kiosks.