With its traditional Vigil of the day before, the group Le vent du nord once again turns the page on a year full of concerts. It will also turn a page in its history: this concert will mark the departure of one of the members of the quintet, Simon Beaudry.
Few Quebec groups have a career as impressive as that of Vent du nord. A pillar of Quebec trad, the group has made impressive international tours which have taken them to four continents in 22 years. His career is also marked by several national and international awards. Last May, his album 20 Printemps won him the Songlines prize – a reference in folk and world music – awarded to the best record in… the Americas.
“This is the first time that a French-speaking group has won this prize,” says Olivier Demers, without boasting, but with pride. It also shows how well known we are in the UK. »
The hardest part for a band that lasts a long time is staying relevant. That means finding a balance between his sonic identity and projects that take him out of his comfort zone. The Eve Eve Vigil is one of the things we expect, year after year, from Vend du Nord. It’s a way of measuring the progress made and of coming together around music and dance.
On December 30, Le vent du nord invited a monument from Lanaudière, the Homage to the Elderly group. An ultra local phenomenon, describe Simon Beaudry and Olivier Demers: this group fills, they say, rooms with 400 or 500 seats and sells around 10,000 copies of each of its albums in an area of around 50 square kilometers around the village of Saint-Côme. Dance “caller” Éric Tarte will be there, as will actress Ariel Charest, who will give the traditional blessing.
Olivier Demers (vocals, violin, podorythmy, guitar) says that La vigille de l’avant-vevele is always a “special” evening. It will be even more so this year since it will be the last concert on Quebec soil for Simon Beaudry (vocals, guitar, Irish bouzouki). He put away his passport after 18 years of music and travel with training completed by Nicolas Boulerice (vocals, hurdy-gurdy, piano key accordion), André Brunet (vocals, violin, podorythmy) and Réjean Brunet (vocals, bass, accordion diatonic, jaw harp).
“It will be emotional for me and for many people in the room,” agrees Simon Beaudry. He left out of a desire to devote himself to his family (he has a young son), to slow down (the incessant touring no longer suited him) and out of respect for his colleagues and friends.
He leaves with his head held high. “The North Wind has never just been an entertainment band. There is a political commitment, a pride in speaking about Quebec, our language, where we come from, and that is motivating, explains Simon Beaudry. We built something that we are proud of and I think we did it in a fairly healthy way. »
The north wind is not on “autopilot”, judges Olivier Demers. Nothing is more true. Rather than mark its 20th anniversary with a compilation of its most popular tunes, the group did so by releasing an album of new songs in 2022, mixing, as always, original compositions and traditional repertoire. Also, at the beginning of the year, the quintet dared by publishing a record where its singers mingled with a string quartet (the Trad Quartet) and the classical pianist Philippe Prud’homme.
We would have to line up the superlatives to say how fantastic the album Les voix du vent with strings and piano is. The five guys in the group don’t play any instruments, they just sing together, in harmony, which is what they’ve always done beautifully. “We have been talking about our vocal harmonies since our beginnings,” confirms Simon Beaudry, “so we said to ourselves: what if we left all the room for the voices? »
Olivier Demers was very involved in the creation of the classical arrangements, which show all the melodic richness of the Vent du nord repertoire, while transporting the songs to another universe with brio. Let’s insist: The voices of the wind with strings and piano is a record of rare beauty, which proves that we can explore on a musical level while remaining accessible and touching straight to the heart. In addition to continuing its Spring 20 tour here and elsewhere, the group will also present the material from this “classic” album in concert over the coming year. Which makes you want to be in 2024 already.