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Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

(For the first in this series on great French Canadian music, click here.)

There is an ongoing trope running through popular Canadian history that ours is a divided nation. According to the myth of the “two solitudes,” French and English Canada, Quebec and the ROC, are doomed to spend eternity in the miserable company of the other, unwilling to speak, unable to get along.

Well that is a load of malarkey. Show a colonist a country with over sixty indigenous languages, and he’ll spend the next four centuries fretting about two European ones. Typical.

It must be said, however, that sometimes our linguistic differences get the best of us. I’m not prepared to say that’s at all unique to Canada, but it does have its downsides, and one of them is the lack of musical exchange between the different languages. This is a loss for listeners, of course, but it is more unfortunate for those musicians – French, English, and otherwise – who lose would-be fans and audiences. (more…)

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You’ve done this and forgotten about it, and it wasn’t a great record – and twenty-five years later you get a letter…

From the liner notes to "Bunkhouse & Forecastle."

From the liner notes to “Bunkhouse & Forecastle.”

Almost two years ago, a friend and I left drove south from Montreal to a small town snuggled next to the American border. It was the middle of February, and our destination was the township of Hemmingford, QC, a charming but inconspicuous place you’ve probably never heard of. Our aim was to visit Stanley G. Triggs, someone neither of us had met before, and a man whom, had things been only a little different, we’d have probably never heard of either.

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The “two solitudes” refers to a traditional understanding of the division between English and French in this country. The term was popularized by a book of the same name by Hugh MacLennan, in which a child of an English and a French parent struggles to establish their own identity. No points for subtly there, Hugh.

Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean declared the two solitudes finished in her 2005 investiture speech, but certain doubts remain. One example that I have personally experienced is the ignorance of music across the great linguistic divide. Putting the BTO’s and Céline’s aside, there are tons of less well-known bands that some people will never discover simply because of their linguistic limitations. I would assume the ignorance lies heavier on the Anglophone side, given the overwhelming predominance of Anglo culture on the continent, but even so the tragedy of divide is held in common: francophone bands lose audiences, while young anglophones in search of new, exciting sounds miss out on some amazing music.

I was lucky enough to be exposed to some of that music while in Quebec last summer, and I’d like to share some of it here. I felt a little cheated that a musicphile like myself could be so unaware of the incredible art that was being produced in my own country. Most of it comes from the last 5 years or so, though I couldn’t resist sticking one classic – the classic – at the front. I hope there’s something here that excites you, and maybe something that encourages you to seek out le nouveau son. (more…)

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