Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Philosophy on an Album Cover

Found a fantastic two album set at the thrift store today, "La Veillee des Veillees" (The Evening of Evenings". After getting it home and sampling it, I surfed the internet to find out more. Found some online priced $246 to $30. My price? Twenty five CENTS!

Got to keep your eyes open while thrifting. Never know when you might find a gem.

This amazing and remarkable set was recorded in 1975, on the last night of a "festival de musique traditionnelle" at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Five ancestral groups were represented: Quebec, Acadia, Britian, Ireland, and most important to me - Louisiana.

Louisiana was represented by two bands, Bayou des Mysteres and Groupe de Marc Savoy. Bayou des Mysteres, during this performance, was a 27 y.o. Zachary Richard of Scott, La. and a 25 y.o. Roy Herrington. From what I can still pick up in French, looks like Herrington was born in Pacanniere, which I have never heard of, but it looks like it's in Vermillion parish. the group sometimes also included Michel Doucet (of Beausoleil, who opened for the Grateful Dead and have backed Mary Chapin Carpenter), Bessyl Duhon et Johnny Comeau.

Groupe de Marc Savoy (also known as Louisiana Aces) was Marc Savoy from Eunice, La; Lionel Leleux, barber and luthier from Kaplan, La.; Doris Leon Menard from Erath and Don Montoucet from Lafayette, La.

Hear some nice clips of traditional Cajun music on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings featuring some of the musicians above.

The inside jacket says this in four different languages:

A call for the folk spirit and against oblivion!

During the period of November 17-21st, 1975, the department of Socio-Cultural Animation of the University of Quebec organized a 3rd Traditional Music Festival at the Plateau Hall, in Montreal. There were five evenings, with Acadian, Breton, Cajun, Irish and Quebec musicians. The purpose was to bring out the cultural, social and musical ties that exist between these people. The last evening saw all the musicians together a a solid group. What they interpreted expressed their fellowship and their will to show the superficiality of international critics or "extinguishers" - who see their traditional music as a mere provincial, regional or local affair. The purpose of the present double album is identical: it's called after the last evening of the festival - THE EVENING OF EVENINGS - and includes some of the most exciting parts of that week of music.

During the history of Acadia, Brittany, Louisiana, Ireland and Quebec, music has always been a stimulating element. A sort of collective sense of self-preservation. In our midst, toil songs, chorus songs and lilts (or chin music) helped to make certain tasks lighter, or went along with daily chores, jobs pertaining to earth, sea and forest. Ballads, hymns, fiddle tunes helped to remember deportations, wars, natural catastrophes, wreckages, etc. There would be no baptisms, wedding festivities, religious or civilian events without quadrille, round dances or jig music. During certain times, patriotic or political songs aimed at claiming certain rights or at fighting against injustice. As simple as daily life, this music has tried to express love, sorrow or more simply, to communicate with others and to share their pleasure. But the VEILLES (literally: evenings), the FROLIES, the FEST-NOZ, the BALS (balls) and the FLEADH CEOIL always gave them hope to live on and to be free. A violin was to them what a flag was to a large empire.

If one could see and hear the fiddlers, accordionists, harmonica players, plain singers, lilt singers, quadrille and jig dancers, from the beginnings of New France to our days, one would see what has shaped our people. Montagnais Indians have their own way of explaining the role of musicians. To them, what is seen is mortal and what is heard is immortal. Sound is the sign of life. Thus, the loon necklace (or osprey) lives and dies, but his cry lingers on, since his like will utter the same cry. Indians think the loon species does not die since its voice is transmitted from one bird to another. Such an explanation is eloquent. Fiddlers disappear but the sound of their instrument stays. Young followers will learn to play the "Simple Jig", the "Money Musk", the "Galope" (Galop), etc. It will seem like the older folk is still playing. In fact, the spirit of a people does not die, because his "word" is transmitted from one musician to another one.

Besides, musicians themselves consider music the same way. If you think of JEAN CARIGNAN the fiddler, the talent of JOSEPH ALLARD and MICHAEL COLEMAN automatically comes to your mind. After recording his music for three consecutive days, LOUS BOUDREAULT, the Chicoutimi fiddler, concluded: "You see! I'll die but I still shall be among people..." Despite the fact that our "best people" tend to discard our "popular language" as matter for archives or book shelves; that merchants prefer to westernize our music; that politicians see but tourist attractions in our fiddlers and that commercial music peddlers ignore our traditional mode of expression, there is a renewal of this music in Acadia, Brittany, Louisiana, Ireland and Quebec - which corresponds to an effort of the people to identify itself and to find back its dignity. Too bad for purists and for those who wish to classify the quick... Life can't wait!

We hope that this recording, in this University whose cultural mission is determining and unique, in the midst of a great city, like the cry of the loon and like the documentary film that a team made at the Ile aux Coudres, will "help to keep our spirit alive for posterity"! Take it away!

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