Cajun tunes in Ardèche!

La Gang du Quêteux is a Cajun group from Ardèche made up of some old friends of Geraud’s and new friends of mine.  And guess what!?  They have a new CD hot off the press!  Here is a fun, short video made for the project.  If you are interested in a copy of the CD email, Valerie at [email protected]

Here is the video link in case of viewing troubles:

Festival #1: Boulegan l’Ostal

The “fun” that “began,” referred to in the last post was not a hot Frenchman (or whatever else might have passed through your mind…and I’m sure that was one of the strongest possibilities…but hey, it is still very likely to happen!), but two weekends with festivals back to back.  The first was called Boulegan l’Ostal and was in the town St. Jean du Gare in the southeastern region of France.

Polo and Nadine are very used to packing, unpacking and repacking for festivals.  (Their level of efficiency is impressive.)  We picked up their friend Valerie (an American who has live in France for over 20 years and has a wonderful puppet/performance company called La Cie du Beau Sauvage in which Polo performs as well) and her son’s girlfriend, who was as sweet as pie, and went on our way.

After braving the up-high, narrow, on-the-very-edge-of-the-edge-curvy roads typical to Ardeche we stopped to take a break (faire une pause) and have lunch: bread made by Nadine, avocado, soy-cheese spread, various regular cheeses and green tea.

We arrived in St. Jean du Gare, squeezed into a parking spot and with instruments in hand started to wander the streets which had been taken over by musicians and dancers alike.

Polo and Nadine had put me on the list as a performing musician which meant that I had a tag that hung around my neck that allowed me food and drink for the weekend (a wonderful surprise for a budget traveler like myself).  They had been hired to create jam sessions in the cafes and restaurants wherever and whenever they wanted.  We played for hours and hours.  (This is also when I really started to get the hang of Polo’s crazy tunes.)

Though there is obviously lots of music and dance at Boulegan l’Ostal it is especially known for being a gathering of luthiers (instrument makers).  There was a big room packed with booths of instruments as well as people trying instruments.  And I tell you what, when those instruments happen to be hurdy gurdies, accordions and the French version of bag-pipes being played all at once, you kind of wish you had earplugs.

Here is a short video of some young guys playing pipes together:

That night, everyone migrated to a big, beautiful building that used to be a school.  It is now the perfect head quarters for the night time jamming and dancing for the festival.  As you can see in the picture below, it was just a little bit crowded.

This is an Irish jam…

It’s a little hard to tell, but everyone in this picture is dancing.  They are linked elbow to elbow in long caterpillar lines doing a simple (and therefore meditative) dance that comes from Brittany.  It’s beautiful to watch all the kabillions of caterpillars slowly working their way around each other.

Needless to say, after such a long day we crashed around 2am.  Here is breakfast time (bread, confiture, tea and chocolate!):

More dancing…

A few more tunes and we headed back home…