Bon DeBarras literally translates into good riddance. Good riddance it was not, at the Lester Centre on Jan. 30 when the Quebecois folk trio played to delighted audiences, as part of the annual Sugar Shack weekend, hosted by L’Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO).
The audience danced in the aisles and some even hopped up on stage to be part of the action while Bon DeBarras shared their songs with Prince Rupert. It was the first year the musicians had visited P.R. and they were thrilled with the enthusiastic response to their infectious tunes and reels. The band, who have had various members over the 20 plus years together, were elated by the audience involvement and encouragement.
“We tour a lot, all over the world,” said Dominic Desrochers, founding member of the band.“We have never had such participation with so many people dancing at the front of the stage and in the aisles, as here in Prince Rupert.”
The well-known band was an opening act at the the 2015 Canada Winter games. Desroches said that the band tours a lot of the time to Europe and across North America. They see a lot of different cultures, however sometimes they miss home in Quebec. Over 80 per cent of Quebec is Metis, he said, with 11 aboriginal First Nations in the province.
Strong First Nations roots could be heard in one of the original songs performed by the band accented by the beat of a pulsing heart. The soulful tribute, sung in the Inuit language, about the annual springtime caribou hunt was the bands way of attributing honour to the First Nation’s influence in Quebec and national culture.
“We wanted to create a bridge. We wanted to say hey, we want to know you. We want you to trust us,” Desrochers said, “We hope maybe one day all nations can be dancing to one beat.”
The concert goers heard a set of original compositions played by the multi-instrumentalist group on the guitar, violin, banjo, Jews harp, harmonica, and percussion boxes. The music played with energy-filled accents of “podorythmie”, which is a traditional French Canadian method of tapping ones feet as a percussion instrument. Derochers kept the rich culture of French speaking North America alive during the evening with his traditional and fluent movements while he step-danced to the fast paced traditional french folk tunes.
After the show audience members were able to meet the band in person and have their photos taken. Praise came from all around.
“The culture of our east coast French origins is so rich,” Sarah Evans, one of the dancing audience members said. “We love the communion with the rhythm and to feel the vitality of the music. To breathe the emotion of music is life essential to our culture,” Evans said.
“We were able to bring these wonderful musicians to Prince Rupert, in conjunction with cabane de sucre (Sugar Shack)with the help of a $6000 grant from the Government of Quebec, to support the French Canadian culture,” Danielle Dalton, president of AFFNO said, “We want them to come back and share their talents some more.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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