Musique Dimanche: Sara Dufour

As I continue to work on my French so when I finally get to go back to Québec (peut-être cet été? on verra) I can eavesdrop on conversations more effectively, I’ve been listening to a lot of Québecois country and pop music. I wrote about Pépé Proulx, who performs solo as “Pépé et sa guitare” on Twitch, back in October. Another Montréal band that’s taken to streaming during the pandemic is Raffi, who perform on Twitch with the username “livedanslgarage” (Raffi Live dans l’Garage). I recommend both; there’s some English spoken, especially in some of the songs they cover, but it’s mostly French, and Québecois French at that, which tends to be spoken pretty fast and has a vernacular all it’s own.

One artist I learned about from Pépé’s stream (because he’s covered a couple of her songs and also because she visited his home in December for a lengthy performance and interview video as part of his “Tout l’Monde Veut Jouer Avec Pépé” series) is Sara Dufour. Sara isn’t streaming but her music is available on Apple Music and other services and she has some videos of her songs on YouTube.

Sara’s songs are earthy, funny, and occasionally surprisingly touching. She writes about the things she loves, including snowmobiles – see the videos below for “Chez nous c’est Ski Doo” (featuring vintage Ski-Doo advertising films) and “Chic-Chocs” (shot in the Chic-Choc mountains on the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Québec and featuring Ski-Doo sleds, naturally).

I’m not a snowmobiler – never been on one, actually – but after watching Sara’s videos for these two songs I’m ready to go.

Here are a few of her YouTube videos. Even if you speak no French, I think you’ll get a smile out of watching them. Enjoy.

Music Saturday: Tommy Oddsen

I haven’t done a Music Saturday post for awhile. Some other things came up, can’t imagine what they were but they seemed to demand my attention. Anyway, this week’s artist is Tommy Oddsen.

Tommy Oddsen is my musical alter ego. The name came about in 2019 when I was going to play a gig with one of my best friends with whom I share a Norwegian heritage, and whose name is Evenson. “Even” is a Danish/Norwegian first name (akin to “Evan” in English) and, interestingly, so is “Odd.” So Norwegian families had – and a quick check of Facebook profiles seems to confirm still may have – sons named Even and Odd, and their children would have been “Evensen” and “Oddsen” in the bygone patronymic method of last names.

Rather than bill ourselves as “Evenson and Kephart,” I had the idea of adopting “Oddsen” as my stage name so we’d be “Evenson|Oddsen”. It was supposed to be a tiny joke for a few performances, but this year, as I had lots of time on my hands to actually practice playing guitar and singing for my own enjoyment, I started to think of myself as “Tommy Oddsen.”

So now that I’m finally playing live on Twitch, I’m using that name. In case you’re confused trying to find my channel.

Right now, I’m only playing one evening per week, Thursdays at 6 p.m. Eastern time. I’m on for about two hours, playing almost entirely covers from the 1960s through the 1990s, mostly folk, singer/songwriter tunes, some old country songs, and the very small number of original songs I’ve written. (Hopefully, there will be more of those to share shortly.)

Stop by and listen at https://www.twitch.tv/TommyOddsen.

Music Saturday: Raffy

Tonight’s featured Twitch streamers are Raffy, a band from Montréal who’ve been playing dans l’garage (in the garage) since COVID put an end to public performances. They play a mix of covers and original tunes in both English and French and have the air of a band that’s been together for a long time, meaning they really know how to play their instruments and how to work together well.

A lot of bands that have moved to streaming to keep performing live have adapted in different ways. A few have changed their live shows into a mix of song performances and radio talk show, and Raffy are one of the best of that group. While all four members of the band are together in L’Garage à Musique, they each have their own solo camera and all contribute comments, humor, and vocals. The band’s namesake Raffy is an energetic host, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist (including keyboards, percussion, brass, and reeds) who keeps the whole show moving at a fast pace. Very entertaining! Makes me wonder what their normal live performances are like….

Here’s Raffy doing a vocal solo with ukulele accompaniment on “Lean On Me,” recorded in April shortly after Bill Withers’ death:

And here’s the whole band in a video for “Entrez dans la danse,” a song by Dominique Breault:

Music Saturday: Josh Woodward

In 2007, I directed David Auburn’s outstanding drama, Proof, for the St. Clair Theatre Guild. It wasn’t a typical show for that group, which was much better known for its productions of classic musicals. But we had an opening in the schedule and I’d wanted to direct the show since I saw it in New York in 2001.

We put together a great group of actors and crew who were looking for the type of challenge Auburn’s play would provide. Proof won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2001 and also the Tony Award for Best Play, so we were working with first-rate material.

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Music Saturday: Emily McVicker and Leon Bratt

As I’ve mentioned on previous “Music Saturday” posts, I’ve been spending a lot of time watching music artists performing online, “streaming” concerts on platforms like Twitch, Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live.

These performances are very intimate. Most of the artists are performing from their homes, sometimes from their bedrooms, where they’ve set up their microphones, mixing boards, lighting, and instruments. Most play keyboards or guitar, but there are others playing drums, harp, violin, bass guitar, and many more. All styles of music are available as well as multiple languages. (As a current learner of French, I appreciate the streams where the artist is bilingual, switching from English to French, which helps me understand them in context.)

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