Steve's Blog
Thursday May 26, 2011

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1. Genticorum & Pastiche, Saturday May 28th, 8pm (St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue)

We have a stunning concert this weekend. It promises to be one of the very best of the year! There's a pretty long interview / article here, which really gets to the core of what Genticorum is all about. There is a special opening act as well, Pastiche (an old French word for "Pudding Lite". Just kidding! But the band features three former members of Vancouver's late, lamented Celtic funk combo Mad Pudding. Actually four, because Andy Hillhouse is visiting this weekend and will join them on a few songs. Cam Wilson (Van Django, Joe Trio, VSO) plays fiddle and writes most of the arrangements. Boris Favre is a bagpipe maker these days,and also a fine bassist and keyboard player. Maybe he'll play some French bagpipes. Allen Dionne was Mad Pudding's drummer. He mostly plays accordion these days. Pastiche play songs and tunes from France and Quebec - and add plenty of twists and turns and crooked tunes. They'll probably throw in a few musical curve-balls, too.


Three young players with deep ties to Quebecois music sail to Borneo and Egypt. As they travel, they tell wild stories of shrinking skirts and noble cats. They sing forgotten songs of old New France, of its log drives and lost rivers. They play dance numbers with their tongues and feet, and unwind trippy reels.

A tall tale come true, Genticorum navigate the silly and sombre moods of North American Francophone tradition on Nagez Rameurs ("Pull Together, Paddlers!") Firmly rooted in family and regional traditions, the trio's wit, rich vocal arrangements, and masterful musicianship turn old songs about traveling into catchy and moving glimpses of a quirky New World.

There's a big chunk of Francophone repertoire linked to voyageurs, because they shaped the colony by exploring and settling the country, and by interacting with the native peoples they encountered, explains guitarist and singer Yann Falquet. It's interesting because unlike a lot of Quebecois songs, many of these songs are not from Brittany or Normandy. They aren't about France. They tell the stories of people once they reached North America.

These are stories of the joyful life of a freewheeling fur trapper ("Canot d'écorce"), the struggles of log drivers on Quebec's rivers ("Grand voyageur sur la drave"), or the hearty calls of oarsmen working for the Hudson Bay Company ("Nagez Rameurs".)

Many old tunes, the ones Genticorum tackles with greatest gusto, jump from the New World into a side-splittingly absurd alternate universe. Humour is part and parcel of Quebecois musical culture - We're bad at being sad, laughs Falquet - but Genticorum take the merriment to psychedelic places. Witness "Quand chus parti du Canada," a fanciful world tour during which the song's narrator bemoans the ever-shorter skirts he encounters - and the dreadful threat this shortening trend may pose to males. Or the surprisingly touching waltz dedicated to kitchen appliances, "La valse de poêles," that the group learned from Quebecois traditional fiddler Simon Riopel.

The more serious side of the New World spirit echoes in the unique sound of Canada's Métis, the descendents of mixed European (often Francophone) and First Nations backgrounds. Isolated in small communities for centuries, Métis musicians like fiddler and healer Lawrence "Teddy Boy" Houle have transformed Celtic reels to fit their own cross-cultural tastes, changing phrasing and favouring irregular time signatures. Houle shared with Genticorum fiddler and composer Pascal Gemme one of the pieces that became a suite, "Violon Guerrisseur." Teddy Boy uses tunes like this one to help induce a meditative state when he heals, says Gemme.

Another striking and curative tune - "Reel Circulaire" - flows from the creativity of Franco-Americans, a cultural community extending as far south as Connecticut, Missouri, and even Louisiana. In small pockets, some families continue to pass along their language and music, as young Franco-American fiddler Daniel Boucher's distinctive tunes demonstrate.

To tell these uniquely New World stories, Genticorum turns not only to Quebec's traditional amalgam of French, Scottish, and Irish sounds - Old World songs, reels, mouth music, and foot percussion - but seeks inspiration from new sources. The trio draws on everything from Norwegian folk music to Kraftwerk. The trio - guitar, flute, fiddle, and three strong voices - innovates carefully, adding a poignant harmonium part to a sorrowful ballad on "Grand voyageur sur la drave," thanks to friend and Celtic music master Grey Larsen. Or laying down an occasional thoughtful groove on the electric bass.

There's been a strong Celtic influence on Quebecois bands for a while, Falquet notes, but we younger musicians are drawing on all sorts of things, especially the newer roots music from Scandinavia. Not necessarily in the neo-traditional way either. We don't add percussion or electronics; we just try to take a really fresh, passionate look at the old tunes.

Even the old tunes that many young players find too square - the dance styles lacking the virtuosic flash of some reels - still fill the dance floor at the traditional dances Genticorum plays when not touring Borneo, Egypt, or Australia. Gemme, for instance, felt the group needed to revisit the good old dance genre of the galope. So he wrote one, dedicating it to his feline boss, Sir Soft Tummy ("Galope Doux Bedon").

Or "Les Menteries," a "song of lies" reminiscent of the tall-tale contests once common at Quebec's kitchen parties. Gemme, who heard this type of song frequently from his grandfather, has wanted to record this particular lying song, a childhood favorite, for a decade. These songs are so out there, with wonderfully bizarre imagery and weird animals doing anthropomorphic actions, that kind of thing, smiles Gemme. For the last ten years, I've tried to come up with a good version and along the way, I added way too many verses. I had to pick and choose my favourite lies for the album!

Even at their silliest moments and on their wildest adventures, Genticorum maintain their powerful ties to their musical families and regional roots, hanging out with traditional song-keepers and storytellers, jamming at folk music sessions, and digging into archival collections for intriguing new pieces. We are within a certain tradition and play with a certain esthetic, without really radical changes, states Falquet, and people are able to really enjoy it for what it is, whether they're Scottish folkies or Malaysian teenagers.

So, as I say, it's going to be a spectacular evening's entertainment at The Rogue this Saturday. More info on Genticorum can be found on

2. Folk Festival Ticket deals - first deadline is May 31st, then June 10th

We are offering excellent Early Bird discounts to members for both the Vancouver Folk Music Festival (July 15-17) and Mission Folk Festival (July 21-24).

Mission Folk Festival Tickets

That's just $65 for adults, $42 for Youth / Senior tickets, $10 for children. Camping $20 per adult.

After May 31st the early bird prices go up to $75 adults, $49 Seniors, $45 youth, and $10 (Children). Camping goes up to $25 per adult. (They have to pay for those luxury showers and flush toilets somehow!)

Vancouver Folk Festival Tickets

Early Bird tickets are $135 for adults, and we are offering them at $122. We have to receive your payment for tickets by Friday June 10th. Members in good standing can buy as many tickets as you like for $122 each.

Ordering Festival Tickets

The Ordering process is identical for both festivals: Please make cheques payable to Rogue Folk Club, and mail them to 31 - 1465 Lamey's Mill Road, Vancouver, B.C. V6H 3W1 If you prefer, please call our office on 604-732-1305 and we will call you back to process your order by credit card. (Office hours are Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 10am to 3pm. Sometimes later.)

You can pick up your VFMF tickets at the Don Ross or at the Alison Brown, Savoy Cajun Band / Foggy Hogtown Boys, or Mississippi Sheiks Tribute concerts at Capilano University in June, or at the office on Broadway (call first to ensure there is someone there!)

Mission tickets will be at Will-Call at the Festival Gate. If you'd prefer to have your tickets mailed please add $10 per order for Registered Mail.

3. North Shore Jazz Festival Concerts at Capilano University Performing Arts Theatre

There are three amazing concerts at CPAT as part of the International Jazz Festival. Not exactly, jazz, either!

Alison Brown Quartet, Monday June 27, 8pm

Queen of the Bluegrass banjo, with her hot band. Only her second visit to Vancouver in living memory. Don't miss it!

Tribute to Mississippi Sheiks, Wednesday, June 29, 8pm

With Danny Barnes, Jim Byrnes, Steve Dawson, The Sojourners, and Del Rey

Savoy Family Cajun Band plus Foggy Hogtown Boys, Thursday June 30th, 8pm

Marc and Ann Savoy with their two sons Wilson and Joel plus Toronto bluegrass combo Foggy Hogtown Boys (we combined these shows, so the Hogtowners won't be at St James on the 30th. It just doesn't make sense to divide the audience. Let's party instead!!)

4. The Edge On Folk, Saturday 8am to noon on CiTR fm 101.9, Cable fm 88.5, and

This week's shows is in two parts: the first 90 minutes or so from the CiTR Studio, and the rest of the show from a special broadcast booth outside the UBC Bookstore. Actually three parts, cos I'm leaving a CD on for the last half hour or so in order to get to a TV screen to watch Manchester United v Barcelona in the European Cup Final at Wembley Stadium! Please join me for 4 hours of amazing music from all around the planet!

Have a great weekend!

See you at The Rogue!!