Franco Kitchen Party with Benoit & Antoine Bourque and friendsLe Bruit Court dans la Ville

Le Bruit Court dans la Ville (The Buzz Around Town)

Welcome to the Maine Folque Co-Op website. Our mission at the Maine Folque Co-op is to honor Maine's cultural heritage by bringing the generations together through traditional music and dance.

We've undertaken a variety of projects toward this end over the past several years. The photo above is from a 2012 community residency by Quebecois folk artists which served to spotlight and celebrate Lewiston's French-Canadian roots. More recently, we hosted a group of gifted teen fiddlers from NY  in a series of performances for local schoolchildren and senior citizens. And in the interim, we have established our own music program which provides an opportunity for fledgling Maine folk fiddlers to develop and share their talents within the nurturing context of a crew of veteran folk musicians from the area. We look forward to exploring many other ethnic music and dance traditions in the coming months and years, while continuing to support and encourage Maine's own “indigenous” folk dancing - New England contra dancing - and the music that inspires it. Please feel free to explore our website, including our sample Video Clips and Links to media coverage to see some of what we've been up to, and drop us a line if you have questions, would like to offer feedback or have ideas for future activities.


 

Heads up! The Quebecois are coming!! Sept. 1 & 2 ...

 

The Maine Folque Co-op is excited to announce a two-day community residency happening in Lewiston early next month featuring the noted French-Canadian folk group Le Bruit Court dans la Ville (The Buzz Around Town). The members of this dynamic trio – fiddler Lisa Ornstein, accordionist/singer Normand Miron and guitarist/singer André Marchand - are legends of Quebec’s traditional music scene. (Scroll down for more info on them.) During their visit here they will offer workshops in both instrumental music and song, be the special guests at a Franco-American community soirée, and end their stay with a final concert during which a few of Maine's youngest folk talents (students in the Folque Co-op's youth music program) will have the opportunity to join them on stage.

Here are all the details...

 

Tuesday, Sept. 1:
3-5 pm: The members of the all-star French-Canadian folk trio Le Bruit Court dans la Ville (The Buzz Around Town) will offer advanced-level workshops in fiddle (Lisa Ornstein), guitar (André Marchand) and accordion (Normand Miron). Location: Franco Center, 46 Cedar St., Lewiston. Cost: $25 per person, $15 for students up to age 21. (Cost includes free admission to Soirée afterwards – see listing below.) Advance registration advised. Contact Cindy at (207) 782-0386 or cindylarock@gmail.com.

6:30-8:30 pm: a Soirée featuring the Quebecois folk trio Le Bruit Court dans la Ville. In the old-time Franco-American kitchen-party spirit, this festive evening will offer not only music but some fun-&-easy traditional French Canadian contra & square dancing. Joining Le Bruit in providing the music will be a mega back-up band composed of the participants in the afore-mentioned workshops (hold onto your hats, folks!). Location: Heritage Hall at the Franco Center, 46 Cedar St., Lewiston. Admission: $7, or for $8 more ($15 total) you can add on supper at 5:30 (menu: French Canadian meat pie, savory vegetable quiche, garden salad, pickled beets & dessert). Note: Meal reservations must be made by 8/27. Contact Cindy at (207) 782-0386 or cindylarock@gmail.com. (Advance reservations not required for the Soirée.)

 

Wednesday, Sept. 2:
1:30-3 pm: Le Bruit Court dans la Ville will lead a chansons à répondrsong session; fluency in French not required - lyrics will be provided. Location: Lewiston-Auburn College, Rm. 170, 51 Westminster St., Lewiston. Admission: just $2 (includes discount to concert by Le Bruit later that evening; see below). Advance reservations not necessary. FMI, contact Cindy at (207) 782-0386 or cindylarock@gmail.com.

7-8:30 pm: Concert by Le Bruit Court dans la Ville. Location: Bates College's Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St., Lewiston. Admission: $12 (two dollars off for anyone who buys their ticket at the chansons workshop listed above, or for members of DownEast Friends of the Folk Arts; please present your DEFFA newsletter at box office as proof of membership); $5 for students up to age 21. Advance reservations not necessary. FMI, contact Cindy at (207) 782-0386 or cindylarock@gmail.com.

Note: Le Bruit 's residency is supported in part through a generous grant from the DownEast Friends of the Folk Arts. Merci beaucoup, DEFFA! And thanks, too, to the Franco Center, L-A College and Bates College for their hospitality in hosting these events. (As they say, it takes a village...)

 

                       

 

Le Bruit Court dans la Ville (The Buzz Around Town)

The members of this dynamic musical trio - Lisa Ornstein, Normand Miron and André Marchand - are legends of Quebec’s traditional music scene. Fiddler Lisa and guitarist/singer André first met as bandmates in La Bottine Souriante, the iconic trad super group which kickstarted Quebec’s folk music revival and which has won several Juno awards (the Canadian version of the Grammy) as well as countless other honors and accolades over the years. Normand is a marvelous singer and accordionist who grew up surrounded by family musicians in Lanaudière, the epicenter of Quebec’s folk music scene. As a trio, Le Bruit Court dans la Ville produce a music which is at once deeply-rooted, innovative, nuanced, and spontaneous. André’s meticulous accompaniment and gorgeous voice compliment Normand’s pulsing accordion, grit-and-polish vocals and irrepressible spirit, while Lisa’s fiddle combines soaring harmonies with fiery tunes until dawn learned over years of kitchen visits with old masters. More detailed bio info follows...

André Marchand is one of the leading figures in Quebec’s trad music scene. He began his musical career as a co-founder of La Bottine,Souriante, the group most responsible for kickstarting Quebec’s folk music revival. As a guitarist, he basically defined how to accompany Québécois music, drawing inspiration from Montréal jazz, American folk, and Irish guitar. His melodious vocals, inventive guitar accompaniment, imaginative compositions, atomic-clock foot percussion, and wonderful sense of humor make him an irresistible stage presence. From 1976 to 1990, André played all over the world with La Bottine. Since then, he has been a part of many well-known groups in Québec including the award-winning Charbonniers de l’Enfer (an a cappella quintet which exploded onto the Quebec scene in the 1990s) and the goodtime band Les Mononcles. He also has performed as a duo with American multi-instrumentalist and singer Gray Larsen. Nowadays, however, his first love is playing with Le Bruit Court dans la Ville!

Normand Miron grew up steeped in the traditions of his home village of Ste-Melanie, where traditional music and song were integral elements of daily life. Inspired by his grandfather and uncles, who were excellent musicians and singers, he took up the harmonica and the accordion at an early age. In the mid 1970s, he was in the inner circle of a group of musicians who started La Bottine Souriante and rapidly gained a reputation as one of the most respected and influential musicians of his generation. Many of La Bottine’s best-known songs come from his vast family repertory. Normand brings to the stage a musical grounding and a presence so full of life and joy that it is impossible not to get swept along. For the past twenty years, his dynamic singing and incredible musical swing on accordion and harmonica have enlivened some of Quebec’s top traditional bands, including Guignolée in 1990, Les Frères Labri in 1993, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer in 1996, and Les Mononcles in 2007. He has traveled widely with these groups in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and is an accomplished performer, teacher, raconteur, and bon vivant.

Fiddle virtuoso Lisa Ornstein is an outstanding interpreter of the traditional music of French Canada and Appalachia, blending compelling and inventive playing with impeccable tune choice. She’s also a tune hunter, the rare kind of fiddler who sifts through all the many tunes she’s learned at the feet of tradition bearers and pulls forth great gems that excite the imagination of her many followers. Befriended by North Carolina fiddle legend Tommy Jarrell while she was in her teens, Lisa quickly became an accomplished fiddler in the Round Peak style. A musical friendship with Franco-American fiddler Louis Beaudoin set her on a path to Quebec in 1978. When La Bottine Souriante — Quebec’s internationally renowned traditional supergroup — invited her to join the band, Lisa’s projected six-month stay began to stretch, eventually lasting a dozen years. Nowadays Lisa lives in Oregon and may be frequently seen at the Portland airport headed out for another Bruit reunion. Her performances are marked by finesse, passion, and stories which bring to life the people and places behind the tunes.


 

St. Jean Baptiste Celebrated in Style!

The Maine Folque Co-op provided a merry band of minstrels to play a program of traditional French music as part of a festive St. Jean Baptiste Day celebration which took place recently in the Twin Cities of Lewiston & Auburn.

June 24 is Saint Jean Baptiste Day, the feast day/birthday of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Quebec, and as such it is celebrated as a major holiday in that province and also holds significance among Maine's Franco-Americans.

To commemorate the occasion, eight Folque Co-op musicians (age 14 to “ageless,” and most of them of Franco heritage) gathered that afternoon on the front steps of "Place St. Louis," a beautiful former church located in NewAuburn, to perform for an enthusiastic crowd of more than150 local residents who gathered on the lawn and sidewalks below.

The repertoire included a variety of jigs, reels, waltzes and polkas, many of which were brought down to Maine by fiddle-playing farmers who emigrated from Quebec many generations ago. Also on the program was music which has sprung more recently from their Franco-American descendants in this area, including the late Maurice Gagnon -- who was, in fact, born on St. Jean Baptiste Day in 1927. A gifted harmonica player, Maurice was also a prolific tune-smith who recorded several of his tunes on an album, and two of these – Carnival Reel and Joan's Polka – were performed in his honor on this occasion. Making the event even more meaningful was the fact that the Folque Co-op musicians were led in this performance by Maurice's granddaughter, fiddler Jessica Estabrook. She never knew her grandfather because he passed away, sadly, before she was born, but she felt that he was smiling down on her as she stood there fiddling away on his birthday, in front of the very church where he married his wife Joan, playing the polka that he named after her, Jessica's grandmother, who – now in her 8o's – still lives in the neighborhood.

Comprising the Folque orchestra were fiddlers Josh White, Victor So, Mona Theriault and Abbie Collette; bass player Abram Collette (Abbie's twin brother); guitarist John Cote; mandolin/banjo player Don Cunningham; and Cindy Larock on guitar & spoons. And when Quebec-born accordion player Normand Gagnon appeared unexpectedly in the audience, he was eagerly invited to sit in with the group, lending an extra touch of authenticity to the event.

The audience was also treated to a semi-spontaneous performance of an old-time Quebecois contra dance by a troupe of dancers recruited on the spot from the band and the audience.

The predecessor to “Place St. Louis,” St. Louis Church was attended by legions of French Catholics in the New Auburn neighborhood before being closed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine in 2013. To save it from being torn down, the structure was purchased recently by a group of concerned citizens dedicated to seeing the 100-year-old structure brought back to life as a cultural center. The Maine Folque Co-op was pleased to play a central role in presenting this, the facility's premiere public event, and looks forward to many more such inspiring collaborations in the future!


 

The Folque Co-op's Music Program

In early 2013, the Folque Co-op established a community folk orchestra based in Lewiston-Auburn. This affable multi-generational ensemble – which numbered over a dozen musicians ranging in age from pre-teens to, shall we say, ageless – was spawned under the enthusiastic direction of Doug Protsik, a seasoned musician equally adept on fiddle, piano and accordion. He worked with the members of the folk orchestra to build a repertoire of music which reflects Maine's cultural heritage in particular, from jigs-&-reels to two-steps to waltzes and more. You'll find some examples of this music here on our website, starting with our homepage “theme” music (the reel “Maple Sugar,” one of Maine fiddler Simon St. Pierre's favorites, as recorded “raw” at an early orchestra practice session). For more, click on the yellow button on the audio files bar at the top right. The membership of the orchestra continues to evolve, with spin-offs and subsets of the original group (such as the "Sizzling Shamrocks" - click here) charming audiences of all ages at a variety of venues throughout the local community and beyond.

Here's an audio-visual glimpse of some of our Folque Co-op minstrels in action at a recent rehearsal.(click on image below to start video):

 

 

 

 


 

The Folque Co-op brings NY's fabulous young Strawberries & Raspberries to the Twin Cities!
 

An ensemble of more than two dozen young string players from the state of New York descended on Lewiston-Auburn recently to perform a public concert as well as share their talents with local school children and retirement community residents.

Hailing from the the Poughkeepsie area, the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers and their slightly younger “JV” team, the Raspberry Fiddlers, are known for their ability to wow audiences with their stellar fiddling techniques representing a variety of genres. Their repertoire includes everything from lively Celtic jigs and lilting English country dance tunes to sassy ragtime numbers and old-time Appalachian melodies, with songs and dance routines adding further pizazz to their shows.

On Sunday, March 29, the ensemble of 25 fiddlers, cellists and bass players appeared in concert at the Temple Shalom synagogue in Auburn. Designed for a family audience, the program included such selections as the elegant “Bare Necessities” waltz, the saucy “Acorn Stomp,” the spicy Cajun two step “Jig Francais,” and the rousing “North Carolina Breakdown,” during which the young musicians gleefully abandoned their fiddles and transformed into clog dancers.

Temple Shalom rabbi Sruil Dresdner, who is himself a musician, said “The members of our temple were delighted to be able to provide a performance venue for these extremely gifted young folk musicians.” Dresdner's wife, Lisa Mayer, is a highly accomplished klezmer fiddler who added to the spirit of hospitality by offering the youngsters a free workshop in klezmer fiddle techniques after their concert. During this fun but intense session, they learned an entire piece of klezmer music which they added to their performance repertoire the next day.

The young musicians remained in the community for a two-day residency during which they performed for students and staff at three Lewiston elementary schools – Martel, Geiger and Montello – as well as at East Auburn School. They also entertained residents at Schooner Estates Retirement Community in Auburn, all at no charge. In appreciation for sharing their talents so generously in the community, Bates College treated the entire group to free lunch at the college's dining commons on Monday, followed by a tour of the campus.

The “Strawberries & Raspberries,” as they are known collectively, comprise students from 15 different middle and high schools in New York's Hudson Valley. The folk bands are sponsored by Stringendo, a community music school through which the youngsters also study classical music. The fiddlers' visit to Maine was the latest in a series of semi-annual concert tours during which they have ventured as far west and south as Minnesota and Louisiana, and even across the Atlantic to Scotland and England. And four years ago, the Strawberries were selected as contestants for the popular television show “America's Got Talent,” which brought them to “show biz alley” in the heart of New York City.

When the co-director of Stringendo's fiddle program, Carole Schaad, caught wind of a performance opportunity at this year's DownEast Country Dance Festival, happening in Topsham on March 28, she quickly signed up both groups to perform in a Young Fiddlers Extravaganza, where they shared the stage with musicians from the Maine's Folque Co-op's youth music program. While at the festival, they also participated in workshops in French-Canadian Fiddle Styles and Quebecois Step Dancing.

As a native Maine Franco-American who was born and raised in Winslow, Schaad was pleased to be able to bring her young music proteges to her home state, where, she says, they were able to “meet and make music with Maine fiddlers, learn some indigenous Maine-Franco tunes, and entertain area residents young and old.”

We at the Maine Folque Co-op are pleased to have been able to bring the Strawberries & Raspberries ensemble to Lewiston-Auburn where their music enriched the lives of so many. We are also thankful that they directed the proceeds from their concert at Temple Shalom towards the support of our own fledgling youth music program. 

More information about the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers & Raspberry Fiddlers is available on the Stringendo Music School's website at www.stringendoweb.org.
 

 

While in Maine, the Strawberries & Raspberries also performed at the DownEast Country Dance Festival in Topsham. For a peek of them in action with some of our own young (and not so young) Folque Co-op musicians, click HERE.