Le Vent du Nord: 20 Printemps

Tradition, Renaissance & Maple Syrup

Listening Post 343. Though their high-latitude homeland is more than twice the size of France, the Québécois know they’re surrounded by North America’s immense Anglophone universe and their geographic awareness has helped shape the tenacity and vibrancy of their culture. One of Quebec’s most dynamic musical forces is Le Vent du Nord, a folk band whose anniversary album, 20 Printemps (20 Springs), highlights how they manage to embody both tradition and renewal. Their sound blends French, Acadian and Celtic elements, their archival and original compositions often simultaneously exuberant and reverent, telling happy, humorous and harrowing tales and spinning instrumental reels, jigs and reveries. With this album—their eleventh—the five-member group explores the Francophone experience through history and heritage, love and fidelity, wine and song, rivers and trees, all served up, as usual, with exquisite harmonies, catchy call-and-response phrases, strings, foot-tapping and a galvanizing hurdy-gurdy—not to mention the infectious banter of their live shows. In Dans l’eau de vie de l’arbre (In the Tree’s Brandy, video 1) they brew nature, folklore and a crucial recipe into a rollicking song about maple syrup. Among their surprise-ending love stories, happiness is fleeting in Ma Louise (My Louise, video 2), while an unfaithful wife finds forgiveness in Marianne (video 3). One of the challenging issues of any cultural or political renaissance is vocabulary, especially denominating a people in a way that is precise yet not limiting: Ensemble co-founder Nicolas Boulerice finds a masterful formula for expressing identity that combines tradition, novelty and poetry in Amériquois (video 4). Adept as they are, the band members sometimes give their instruments a rest, as in L’auberge (The Inn, video 5), an a cappella salute to friendship and drinking. With their track record, energy and vision, the boys have at least another 20 years in them. And God knows Quebec will give them the space. (La Compagnie du Nord)

Le Vent du Nord: 20 Printemps
Simon Beaudry: Vocals, bouzouki, guitar
Nicolas Boulerice: Vocals, hurdy-gurdy, small bells
André Brunet: Vocals, fiddle, foot-tapping
Réjean Brunet: Vocals, bass guitar, button accordion, piano, bombard
Olivier Demers: Vocals, fiddle, foot tapping, mandolin, guitar, bass, snare drums

Related posts. Le Vent du Nord: Têtu. Listening Post 16, Oct 11, 2015. https://worldlisteningpost.com/2015/10/11/le-vent-du-nord-tetu/
Le Vent du Nord: Territoires, Listening Post 198, April 23, 2019. https://worldlisteningpost.com/2019/04/23/le-vent-du-nord-territoires/
Le Vent du Nord & De Temps Antan: Notre Album Solo, Listening Post 225, Oct 28, 2019. https://worldlisteningpost.com/2019/10/28/le-vent-du-nord-de-temps-antan-notre-album-solo/

 

Dans l’eau de vie de l’arbre / In the Tree’s Brandy
Lyrics & music: Nicolas Boulerice, with a traditional tune from Jean Carignan’s repertoire

From the album notes: When he realized that the group had no song about maple syrup, Nicolas rolled up his sleeves and got to business. We’d like to pay tribute to the First Nations of Quebec, who were the first to boil maple sap (such a strange idea to begin with, as is case with many recipes!) and to the lands we share today. May this sap be the liquid of life, of a society, the one we choose and shape, in the hearts of all humans in our corner of world.

(From the French lyrics)
The elders knew it, and even those before them/How they bled them every spring
First cut them, preserving the wood/So it can flow, without killing the tree

Sip and savor the country to become part of its flow
Ease your cabin fever with the spirits from the tree
Let the nights take hold of you with spirits from the maple

When the earth’s blood has flowed enough/We empty our pails in the barrels of time
Under the iron vats, we light the maple tree/Condemning it to boil with its fellows

Sip and savor the country to become part of its flow
Ease your cabin fever with the spirits from the tree
Let the nights take hold of you with spirits from the maple

And the palette of days finally stretches before us/Punctuated with memories, sweetened with love
Winter evaporating, keeping what matters most/Reducing miseries, getting closer to the sky

Sip and savor the country to become part of its flow
Ease your cabin fever with the spirits from the tree
Let the nights take hold of you with spirits from the maple

 

Ma Louise / My Louise
Traditional lyrics and music from Robert Deveaux’s repertoire with a composition by Simon Beaudry and André Brunet

A young soldier leaving for war, to his Louise went to say goodbye
Forehead bowed toward the ground in sorrow, soft tears rolled from his eyes
But he gave his sweetheart a promise: When I return, I’ll be yours

And he said to her, and repeated again, goodbye my Louise, goodbye

My beautiful lover, if you go to war I will lose hope of seeing you again
If you are killed in battle I, your Louise, will never see you again
If you love me like you showed me, you would never think of leaving me

Come into my arms, my beauty, that I may embrace you, come for a sweet farewell kiss
Bring me a white handkerchief too, to wipe the tears from my eyes
Stop your crying, my beauty, dry your tears, because I swear I love you, I promise to love you

The young soldier left, the beautiful girl stayed in her room, night and day she cried and cried
Night and day she cried and lamented, pining for lovely times past
May God save from war all the lovers of unmarried girls

After six months, at Louise’s door, the handsome soldier knocked three times
Open, open the door, my beauty, open for your lover who has come back from the army
She got up and went to open the door for her lover, her beloved

A month later we celebrated the wedding, the whole family was invited
And all the friends, all the people from the wedding party immediately went in deep mourning
Because suddenly the beautiful girl fell dead in her beloved’s arms

 

Marianne
Traditional lyrics and music from Jean-Paul Guimond’s repertoire with a composition by Nicolas Boulerice

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/Where were you last night, Sorbleur
Did you go to see your sister, Corbleur

Dear God, I said, my husband
I went to the fountain, dear God/
To wash my woollen stockings, ah! Jesus

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/Does it take a week, Sorbleur
To wash woollen stockings, Corbleur?
Dear God, I said, my husband
The fountain was dirty, dear God/
The birds of the sky bathe there, ah! Jesus

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/Where are they – may I see them, Sorbleur
For I haven’t seen a single one, Corbleur
Dear God, I said, my husband
They all just left, dear God/They followed the gray mare, ah! Jesus

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/I saw you – last night, Sorbleur
With a black-bearded man, Corbleur
Dear God, I said, my husband
That was your first cousin, dear God/
Ah! the beautiful Evangeline, ah! Jesus

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/Does she have a black beard, Sorbleur
My cousin Evangline, Corbleur
Dear God, I said, my husband
She had eaten blackberries, dear God/
And they were really quite ripe, ah! Jesus

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/Are there blackberries even in winter, Sorbleur?
I’d like to see some, Corbleur
Dear God, I said, my husband
In the garden at my father’s house, dear God/There are blackberries, even in winter, ah! Jesus

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/You have to get down on your knees, Sorbleur
So that I can cut your throat, Corbleur
Dear God, I said, my husband
Wait until the fall, dear God/I’ll make you grow horns, ah! Jesus

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/Repeat to me – what you just said, Sorbleur
I think I might have misunderstood, Corbleur
Dear God, I said, my husband
Wait until the fall, dear God/
I’ll feed you some apples, ah! Jesus

Morbleur, Sorbleur, Marianne/Get up, I’ll forgive you, Sorbleur
If you feed me apples, Corbleur

 

Amériquois
Lyrics & music: Nicolas Boulerice

Journeys, new lands, explorers in canoes
A young nation, like the first ones, riding on the rivers

Making harsh winters their own, going up the river to its seas
Mississippi, challenges of war, and great peace with our brothers

Amériquois, voyagers, multiracial Quebekana
With our loves, our courage, imprint our songs on the landscape

It’s a story of lumberjacks going into the woods with doubts
And came back around summer, answers to their questions in their pockets

They would open up the north, build cities, protect forts
Cruising their canoes under dark skies, soaking up the territory

Amériquois, voyagers, multiracial Quebekana
With our loves, our courage, to imprint our songs with the landscape

From Louis Riel to Jean Lessage, we have loosened our collars
From the white squares of inheritance to the red squares of discontent

It’s a language to the four winds, leaving traces and offspring
A bit of France, a lot of time, our America has grown large

Amériquois, voyagers, multiracial Quebekana
With our loves, our courage, to imprint our songs with the landscape

L’auberge / The Inn
Traditional lyrics and music from Serge Thériault’s repertoire

The other day at an inn, with several of my friends
I spent the night drinking, my mistress by my side

I like to drink, I pride myself on it/I want to use my money well
I’m always even-tempered/I take time as it comes

Every day my mother scolds me, she calls me a libertine
She tells me that I’m in the world to cause her grief

Let the black robes pass, let the hymns proceed
We’ll tell them that we are drinking all their heirs’ money

The other day at an inn, with several of my friends
They are folks like us who get inebriate themselves on drink

The beadle, that great drunkard, does he drink like the rest?
Will he drink in the next world as he drank among us?

 


3 thoughts on “Le Vent du Nord: 20 Printemps

  1. Congratulations for the great and wide job of each of
    those artists: I learn a lot!

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