The Sound Cafe
New Solo Album by Le Vent Du Nord's Nicolas Boulerice
Five years after Maison de bois, Nicolas Boulerice (also a member of Le Vent du Nord) is releasing the second part of his solo triptych with Maison de pierres — Confiné aux voyages. His magnificent voice pairs up with Frédéric Samson’s double bass to deliver 13 traditional laments accompanied by as many field recordings made in Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu.
“These songs have travelled time and space to the roads of my town, this land that I walk, that I sing and whose silences I embraced between flights of Canada geese in the course a disquieting spring. Now it is your turn to journey through that odd season, in the rain, in the fields or on the banks of the Richelieu River,” said Nicolas Boulerice.
This encounter—first of all between a land and a repertoire, then between a voice and a double bass— unfolds under the theme of travels.
“To grant myself the trips that the pandemic was refusing us, I culled songs from my grandmother and my girlfriend, melodies gleaned from my books, at Mr. Lanoie’s house, or at Mr. Guimond’s, a great repairman and a guardian of songs,” explained the artist.
Boulerice steered clear of the musical experience he has been sharing for 17 years with Le Vent du Nord, betting instead on bare-bones songs where every note, every sound, every word counts.
“Traditional folk music is often associated with the holiday season, particularly in Quebec. This album is perfect for a lockdown Christmas without parties! It can be listened to gently, slowly, while dining in good company,” added Boulerice.
Nicolas Boulerice knew that only Frédéric Samson (from the band Small World Project) could bring this musical journey to life, thanks to his double bass. Boulerice and Samson have been friends for 30 years. They recorded this album at the church of Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu with the renowned engineer Charles- Émile Beaudin (La Voix, Céline Dion, Serge Fiori, Montreal Symphony Orchestra), who hails from the same small town. Other collaborators include Olivier Demers (violin, collaboration to arrangements) as well as several neighbours who contributed to the atmospheric field recordings used, notably with bells, horses and barrels. A beautiful lockdown family story.
Maison de pierres (“Stone House”) will also be turned into a bewitching vocals/double bass show. Nicolas Boulerice is planning a third album, Maison de paille (“Straw House”), to complete the series.
Born into a family in love with words and Quebec culture, Nicolas Boulerice was quickly inspired by his grandmother's trad songs and his father's poetic writings. After studying jazz piano, he discovered the hurdy-gurdy and began his career as a touring musician, first on the American folk circuit, with the group Ad Vielle Que Pourra. In 2001, he founded the duo Boulerice-Demers, which later became Le Vent du Nord, a group that has received many prestigious awards. With his group, he participates in numerous artistic collaborations in addition to creating a symphonic concert that he presents in Quebec and abroad.
In 2015, he released his first album as a songwriter and composer, Maison de bois, just after winning the CALQ award for artist of the year in Montérégie. Sometimes lyricist for others (recently for Geneviève Jodoin), on stage in a poetry/song project with his father (Les carnets de notes), he is always eager for new work. A man of speech and communication, he has been offering conferences on the hurdy-gurdy, the Quebec turlute and traditional music from Quebec for a few years now. It is on this subject that he has produced a reference document for an introduction to Trad, in collaboration with the Conseil Québécois de la Musique, a first of its kind.
He is also currently participating in the implementation of a very first online traditional music course for high school students (as well as the curious in general) in collaboration with the Conseil Québécois du Patrimoine Vivant. Memory is a river that he likes to travel with the help of words to name the essential and with hands to hold the fragile. In this regard, a first collection of poetry and song lyrics will be published by Triptyque in the spring of 2021, at the same time as another book release, this time by Leméac, where he will appear in the writers' collective, under the direction of Normand Baillargeon, gathered for the 40th anniversary of the death of Georges Brassens. Involved and voluble character, he is one of the faces of the Trad scene, young and alive (even with a few grey hairs!), which inspires more and more people from here and elsewhere.