I’ve been thinking of the tune “Plant a Cao,” lately (sheet music down below). It was nominated for tune of the month over on Melodeon.net. It was voted down, but a fascination was still sparked. This is a scottish I first heard on the Musaique CD, by Ad Vielle Que Pourra. They play it at light speed, which suits me some of the time. My current favorite version is this one by Jean Luc Gueneau and Gilles Poutoux:
I heard the Gentiane version, featuring the great Jean Blanchard some years later. It has a gentler, more playful tone:
And here’s a solo accordion version by Jac Lavergne, from his Cadence d’Auvergne cassette tape.
The “lightspeed” version I mentioned above is the second tune in the set below:
I lead a good life. On May 2nd, my trio, Le Bon Truc, played at Blue, in Portland (Maine). We managed to pack the place and then play perhaps our best ever. It was super and felt great. Friend of the band, Sunshine Perlis, took video of eleven of the sets. The lighting is suboptimal, but the sound is great. I’ve put these together into a playlist so you who wish may enjoy our good fortune!
We’re hitting five years of playing together, and our lax variety of ambition has served us well. I love these two, and I love the music we make.
It’s been a dream for me to play music with my kids and I was able last weekend to do that! And I recorded. Here are Brigid and I playing a scottish by by Frédéric Paris and a hanter dro by Sylvain Piron. Also, I sing in French for the first time on video!
Trio Le Bon Truc has been have a very good year, I have to say. Well … I don’t have to, I want to! There’s been this sense among us three that our four year communion continues to deepen and satisfy. In preparation for a gig in Portland, ME at The Last Church on the Left, we’ve been putting some thought into the “next stage” of our repertoire. We know a lot of tunes, holy cow! Meanwhile, I got the Ab Tiny Box, and that’s been fun for us.
Bourrées Tricotada, Va-ten Va-ten, Grandes Poteries
As I have said in the past, I do take a phenomenological approach to music and think we all should. To that end, I am posting three of our rehearsal recordings. They are NOT polished performances, and, in fact, the Bourrées and Polkas may have been our first time playing those sets ever. In all cases, they start out rougher than they end, but they end in some very sweet spots. They interesting as “rehearsal artifacts,” but they are also … sweet. This is probably not all that swift as marketing, but … if nothing else, you can hear the good time we are having.
Georges Haibach, Catherine Piron-Paira, Sylvain Piron
A joyful package arrived on my doorstep a few days ago. Two new CDs from Sylvain Piron!
The first is a trio recording, Par un beau soir: Chansons Traditionelle, featuring Sylvain along with Catherine Piron-Paira and Georges Haibach. The three of them wield a truly impressive array of instruments, including accordion, basse aux pieds, nyckelharpa, dulcimer, epinette, psaltry, various whistle-type instruments, and objets sonores (sound objects). On top of it all are their three voices weaving genuinely delicate melodies and harmonies. All but one of the songs are traditional or ancient, and the one remaining song is Sylvain’s own minor-key mazurka, Le chemin.
The second CD is On est que des cailloux, a set of Sylvain’s original songs, played solo by the man himself, recorded over a few years. Sylvain’s singing, solo with only the accordion accompaniment, is a sort of pure, earthy thing — strong and reminiscent of the harp singer tradition. His songs are light but filled with feeling, both pathos and humor.
Both CDs are available directly from Sylvain himself. You can contact him at his email.
What a great weekend! Great dance on Saturday. Great performance at the Royal Bean this afternoon. Photographer and friend of the blog, Troy Bennett, was there. We first met in 2003 when Sylvain Piron and Catherine Piron-Paira visited Maine. Troy shared the below pictures with me. Fantastic! Thank you, Troy!
The event was the monthly International Folk Dance at Pownell, Maine (which continues to this very day), led by dance instructor Marie Wendt and my friend Steve Gruverman.
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.
The twice yearly accordion gathering, Pique Diatonique, took place on September 14. I think of it as an Alsatian event, but really it takes place all around that region. Friend Mary Line took and posted an album of pics, including the following photos. I’ve written about Pique Diatonique before (and here). One day I’ll go back!
I am obsessed with this tune, a scottish/valse called “Le Cotillon Vert.” Here I am in my kitchen taking a crack at it.
The scottish/valse is exactly what’s on the tin. You dance the A section as a scottish (medium tempo, 4/4 dance), then you switch to a waltz for the B section. Then back to a scottish. Then waltz. Et deliriums cetera. The trick — and it is tricky — is that the ones of the scottish have to be the same distance apart as the ones of the waltz. So, the 1-2-3-4 of the scottish has to fill the same amount of time as the 1-2-3 of the waltz. Got it?
“Le Cotillon Vert” is a bedeviling ear-worm of a tune. A bog norm standard that I found in Sylvain Piron’s tradfrance. Here’s the sheet music:
And here is Sylvain’s recording, a bit scratchy, maybe, played on his Castagnari Giordy:
Sylvain Piron, “Le Cotillon Vert”
You can hear that it’s a bedeviling ear-worm of a tune! A few weeks ago I was listening to cabrette player Dominique Paris, and heard the same tune, though under the title, “Dis-moi Donc Suzon.” Here it is as part of a set of scottish/valses.
Dominique Paris, “Dis-moi Donc Suzon – Pendant la Messe (scottishs-valses)”
UPDATE: Jim Besser, over at concertina.net, posted this version because I’d asked if anyone had done a concertina version. Thank you, Jim!
Here’s a tune I learned from storyteller Catherine Piron-Paira and her husband Sylvain Piron, both of Saverne, Alsace. Catherine played it on psaltery, thus I tend to call it “Catherine’s Psaltery.” I feature this tune on my new CD, but with added clarinets and recorders, and with vastly improved sound quality. I recorded this to include in the melodeon.net Theme of the Month for July 2013, French Tunes.
I’m not sure why my pants figure so heavily in this video. I apologize.