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North wind blows favourite band into town

Le Vent du Nord returns with a fresh blast of songs from its 20 Printemps (20 Springtimes) album
Le Vent du Nord returns to the Arden Theatre with one of their exhuberant, Francophone kitchen parties on Friday, Feb. 16. ANNIE DIOTTE/Photographer

A musician who joins a new band always takes a risk. Most bands dissolve in a few years, however Le Vent du Nord has defied the odds. 

The Quebec-based Francophone folk band commemorates its 22nd year on the circuit with a rousing eight-city tour in Western Canada and the United States before flying to world stages in Europe. The tour opens with a concert at Arden Theatre on Friday, Feb. 16. 

In 2022, following two years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions, the fivesome released 20 Printemps (20 Springtimes), an album celebrating their 20th anniversary. The 12 story songs are a blast from the past filled with revelry and, on occasion, lessons learned. 

And the group’s musical interpretations swing from pure Celtic folk-rock to Jacque-Brel-like vocals and moods, to jazzy bass vibes. 

“For us this album was full of light. For us that is meaningful because we were finding life and light again. We wanted to promote spring after the COVID darkness. We wanted to propose a positive way to see life,” said fiddler/singer Olivier Demers. 

It was back in 2003 that Demers and Nicolas Boulerice founded the band. Additional musicians rotated through the first few years. But the current lineup with Simon Beaudry (2004), Réj́ean Brunet (2007) and André Brunet (2017) has provided the artistic stability the band needed to create its spirited music. 

“The more we play, the more we are united in musicianship and skills from knowing when to correct vocal harmonies to knowing what we can reach. In recording, we know what a good configuration is, and where we can push and find balance,” said Demers. 

Many songs the ensemble chooses are traditional songs sung in French but presented in the context of our times. 

“For us, we present a mix of original compositions and traditional songs. We try to find rare songs not promoted by others. We try to find jewels sleeping in a drawer or an archive at a university. Songs written 200-300 years ago still talk about subjects that are relevant today. They talk about war, love, marriage and missing somebody. Those subjects have a large meaning and still today we rely on songs to see how society has evolved,” Demers said. 

The album produced two hit songs, the love ballad Ma Louise and L’Auberge, a friendly drinking song that is an ode to friendship. Dans l’eau de vie de l’arbre is a salute to one of Canada’s most famous exports — maple syrup. And Marianne takes a humorous peek at a wife who goes out to run an errand and returns one week later. 

Before gearing up for the tour, the band worked with Montreal director Dominic Champagne, best known for creating the concept for Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles show, Love. The master of theatricality worked with the fivesome to tighten the pace and raise the performance bar. 

“You will see five guys who love to perform together and have an interesting blend. It’s an experience. You will feel emotional. You will be excited, and you will have moments of reflection. Our show covers human sensibilities. We don’t put just one song after another. There is a link.” 

Le Vent du Nord’s concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $49 online at or at 780-459-1542. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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