Press Clipping
03/30/2017
Article
Wind of change

They are a persistent wind, a stubborn wind, a mirthful wind.

The members of the band Le Vent Du Nord, which translates to The Wind of the North, persistently court change, the latest of which emerges in their current album.

The four musicians will take the Belleville Congregational Church stage on Saturday night, where their string-rich, foot-tapping Quebecois folk will sweep air under listeners’ feet and explore the concept behind the new album, “Tetu.”

Listen to its songs “Noce tragique,” “Amant volage” or “Confederation” — about love, loss and history — and it’s easy to envision audience members forming small circles, dancing round-and-round, arm-in-arm.

Le Vent du Nord’s fiddler, Olivier Demers, said in an interview while on tour in Georgia that the French word tetu means stubborn or determined.

It’s short and precise in pronunciation but conveys shades of meaning, he said while traveling by van with bandmates en route to Savannah from Atlanta.

“The crowd will have a physical experience of this word,” Demers said.

Like all winds, which vary in strength and duration, and grow or diminish, Le Vent du Nord seeks change to stay fresh and vital.

The band has been performing traditional French-Canadian folk and original numbers for 15 years, playing more than 1,600 shows on five continents.

Three of its members hail from the Quebec countryside, musicians steeped in tradition from childhood: Nicolas Boulerice on hurdy-gurdy (a stringed instrument played by turning a crank), Simon Beaudry on guitar and Irish bouzouki, and Rejean Brunet on the accordion.

Demers is the lone city boy, arriving to traditional music’s doorstep from classical and jazz avenues.

He was drawn to tradition while in a search for identity concurrent with the 1995 Quebec referendum that asked voters whether to proclaim sovereignty and lost by a whisker.

French-Canadian identity permeates Le Vent du Nord’s melodies and songs, Demers said. The group invites audiences to ponder the Quebecois psyche, its past, present and future.

The Quebecois musical tradition arose from melodies and stories that arrived with the early settlers from France, some 400 years ago. The lyrics and tunes seeped into their frontier work and celebrations, sung by voyageurs paddling canoes and by lumberjacks.

Later, in the mid-19th century, the tradition incorporated Irish musical influences, including its fiddle-fueled reels and jigs.

Le Vent du Nord’s music draws on their French ancestors’ music and that of the Irish and Native Americans.

The band has no drummer, but they have Demers’ feet.

He is their foot-tapper, his toe taps accompanying his bow work, energizing the music and crowd.

The music brings people to their feet, ready to dance.

If you go

What: Le Vent du Nord

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: Belleville Congregational Church, 300 High St., Newburyport

How much: $30 in advance, $35 day of show; $10 for ages 18 and under. Tickets available at church office today and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and church thrift shop on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon; Dyno Records, 1 Middle St., Newburyport; www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2567964; and at the door.

More information: bellevilleroots@gmail.com or www.bellevilleroots.org