Le Bon Truc Trio Rehearsal Audio

The other Le Bon Truc Trio!

Quite the week for music and the squeezy stuff. Three rehearsals in the space of seven days, preparing for three different gigs. The quintet Nouveau Chapeau is preparing for NEFFA, as mentioned in a previous post. The Le Bon Truc Trio (with Steve on clarinet), is preparing for the Downeast Country Dance Festival (called DEFFA, but the acronym doesn’t quite seem to work). The other Le Bon Truc Trio (with Joelle Morris singing) is preparing for a performance at a French immersion school here in Maine.

L’Autre Bon Truc Trio: Rehearsal Compilation

Because I take a phenomenological approach to the box — as should we all — I enjoy sharing my process warts and all. Barbara Truax (Le Bon Truc plectrist and percussionismo) recorded our rehearsal this Saturday. It’s embedded above, and you can hear us — having not played for a year — finding our way back into collaboration. It’s clunky at moments, but it was really a good time. Enjoy.

13 Moments at the Gig

I invite my band mates to share their moments in the comments section.

Last Thursday me and three of the best musicians I know played at Lewiston bistro She Doesn’t Like Guthries, a cafe aimed at “eco-conscious, urban bohemians.” The food and wine were excellent and the four of us — Le Bon Truc — brought our tradFrench to a full room of chatty, convivial and, if I can say it, extraordinarily well dressed night goers. (Seriously, I saw two bow ties.)

Gary+Barb+Joelle+Steve = Le Bon Truc at Guthries

Moment #1: We were well rehearsed for this, but we waited, literally, until the last minute to draw up a set list, and even then it was only the first five pieces. We opened with J’ai un nouveau chapeau, Sylvain Piron’s hanter dro with the great lyric.

Moment #2: It was at the very last rehearsal before this gig that we finally worked out the song Dodo Beline. It can be found on the recording by Frédéric Paris and family, Petite Alouette (which you can download here). Entrancing. Amazing. With Joelle singing and Barbara’s dulcimer, I found myself — so improbably — in a group performing this wonderful song. Have you had moments like that? Where you you can’t believe you are where you are, doing the thing that you’re doing? Just so you know, when I took up the accordéon some fifteen years ago …THIS was what I was hoping for!

Moment #3: Brave Marin is a great song, but I can’t figure out what I should be doing on it. Joelle has the melody, Steve the obligato, and Barbara the rhythm. Logic dictates long tones or counter-melodies, but nothing I’ve tried has sounded good to me.

Moment #4: The set of Trois bourrées bemol (Three flat bourrées) does contain three of my favorite bourrées, transposed to Bb, Bb, and F. I did this when I got my Dino Baffetti Bb,Eb, F three-row, but now I just like it as a set of tunes. However, when Barbara takes out her banjo uke and does the sweet little chunka-chunka behind Steve and my melody … wow, does that piece fly!

Moment #5: The break. We eat a little. Drink. Talk about many things other than the music. We don’t make a set list for the second set, and when the break ends, we’re caught unawares! Not sure what the psychology is going on there. We were happy.

Moment #6: Joli Mois de Mai, an hanter dro/an dro. A capella. Joelle did the call. We all did the response. Yes! That’s crazy talk! And it did threaten to go off the rails a few times, but reckless abandon had set in. Very fun!

Moments #7 thru #11: An array of beautiful stuff. At some point the table that was smack in front of us (with three very attentive and appreciative listeners) emptied. I missed them. But my twelve year old daughter, Sarah, occasionally shouted, “You’re doing great, Dad!” So the grief was fleeting.

Moment # 12: Can y Melynid is a great Welsh tune that Barbara brought to us (she learned it, I think, from an Alan Stivell recording). Again, I can’t figure out where I fit in this one. Steve, Barbara, and Joelle use the tune as a launching point for improvisation … a foreign practice for me.  But the tune sounds great.  I want to find my way in.

Moment #13: Saturday Night at St. Andrews is a waltz written by Barb, and it’s become our closer of choice. Amazing good feeling.

After the performance the owners, who had been gracious hosts throughout, expressed deep appreciation for our sounds. Randy said he’d never heard a sound like ours, and commented on its unique quality. Very gratifying. We were invited back!

So, one of the things about going through the hard times that I’ve reported is that they set you up to be especially grateful of the good things, and, in a meta way, to be grateful for gratitude.  Like it’s root, grace, gratitude is a good state to exist in. So, thanks to Guthries for providing that amazing spot to play in, and to Barbara, Steve, and Joelle for joining in this crazy French-from-France thing I’m on. We may still be “finding our groove” as a group, as Barbara says, but I’m loving finding the groove.

Le Bon Truc videos

Le Bon Truc is a quartet featuring me, Steve Gruverman (clarinet), Barbara Truex (strings, etc.), and Joëlle Morris (voice, etc.). Before Christmas we performed at the Saco River Winter Market. We played both Christmas stuff and French bourrées, waltzes, and polkas. Here are six videos. The room is noisy, but it was a great time.

Videos shot by Drew Morris.  Thank you!

Il est ne, le divin enfant

Two Scottishes

Un flambeau, Jeanette Isabella

Petite Rosalie

Polka des Allumettes

Le Chemin (Sylvain Piron)

Accordéon Resolutions (featuring a bonus polka!)

BONUS POLKA DOWN BELOW!

Let’s review resolutions for last year:

Music is my joy

1: Keep playing! (Don’t know if I dare be more specific than that)
2: Keep blogging … a tremendous amount of fun this year, and I have some very nice big projects in the works.

3: Sing and play … at the same time. My eternal resolution.

How did I do? It’s complicated. (Forgive me for perhaps over-sharing, but I can’t write this if it’s not honest.)

I’m going to say that, in many areas, this has been the worst year of my adult life. My wife ended our marriage after fourteen years. And twelve days ago I lost my job.

But music … music has been my salvation. I recorded and released my CD of French music, L’Autre Diatoniste, an amazing artistic experience working with friend musicians and a very smart, collaborative sound engineer, Caleb Orion.

I have begun work with a new group featuring clarinet, mountain dulcimer, me on accordion, and a French mezzo … the group is Le Bon Truc. I have to tell you … I don’t have a great history with bands. The psychological element of playing in a band is very difficult for me … But these musicians … it is an amazing experience playing with them. We’ve had about four gigs, and have four more lined up already between now and March.

And also, the tattoo

I acquired a Dino Baffetti three-row F/Bb/Eb. Acquiring things is always nice, of course, but the point is that getting this new instrument with a three-row quint tuning (as opposed to a two-row + acc) has really made me pay attention to both instruments in a new way. I’ve thought about getting the Baffetti tuned F/Bb/acc so that the fingerings between my two boxes would be transferable (and transposing), but I feel like the two boxes being subtly different is actually making me a better player.

Blogging has dropped off in the past few months, because of events, but the year as a whole has been very active.

Thus, in terms of my resolutions, I have played more. I have blogged more. I have not worked on singing while playing. Instead I joined a group with a vocalist.

MEET THE NEW RESOLUTIONS. Same as the old resolutions (more or less).

1) Play more.
2) Blog more.
3) Work on group playing (i.e., being more flexible in terms of harmonies, accompaniments, and melody. Friend clarinetist, Steve, plays these amazing obligatos. I would love to be able to do that.)

The barrier to these is a creeping (occasionally raging) depression. I’m working on it. Seeing someone. Medicating. Doing what I think is necessary. But it’s gotten bad.

I look to my music for respite and joy. When in doubt, do your art. Here’s a set of polkas performed by Le Bon Truc. They always make me happy.

Thanks for listening.

C’est Noël!

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=1976243836/size=medium/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/transparent=true/

Now that Thanksgiving is past in the States, I feel okay drawing your attention to this CD by my Le Bon Truc colleague, mezzo-soprano Joëlle Morris. For this amazing collection of French Christmas songs, Morris is accompanied by pianist Bridget Convey. The whole thing was recorded at the Franco Center in Lewiston, Maine, a ridiculously good space for music. Click through to the bandcamp site in order to listen and buy.

(Apologies for the complete absence of accordéonaire content … but I’m not really sorry, because this CD is that good.)

Welcoming Baffetti

The plan unfolds slowly! Made arrangements for sale of the Nik, yesterday, and arranged to purchase a Dino Baffetti, Tex-Mex II/34 from the Button Box. As it happens, both the buyer of the Nik and the Button Box are right near Sunderland, Massachusetts.  Saturday, I’ll be making the pilgrimage.

Here’s a picture of the Baffetti, and there’s a video over on the Button Box site. It’s a three-row, MM box, tuned American Tremolo (as was the Nik), with rows in F/Bb/Eb. Baffetti has a stellar reputation as a maker. As the name of the thing suggests, it was made for the Tex-Mex market, but its wider tuning perfectly suits all of the French musics I’m obsessed with. This decision has been a long time coming. I’ve loved that Nik, but have felt the redundancy of its G/C tuning many times at gigs. Also, working in a chanson trio with Barbara Truex and Joëlle Morris, the need for key flexibility is urgent. Finally, I’ve wanted a three-row quint tuned box for ages. Now I get my chance. I’m already thinking of the new possibilities for across-the-row madness and right-hand chords.

Here’s hoping it all goes off as planned!