Various Artists

Music of French America: Recorded at the Brandywine Mountain Music Convention

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A collection that in reality straddles two quite different genres related by the nationality of descendants scattered across North America, the Music of French America set has made it off the shelves and is now lying by the side of the "Desert Island Discs" trunk, awaiting a final decision. Would the stranded one prefer the philosophical purity of an entire set devoted to Cajun, rather than this combination of one Missouri and two Quebec fiddlers plus a mini-set by the wonderful Balfa Brothers of Louisiana? Space is perhaps a problem; well, better to leave behind the fussing of castaways as they hone down their record collections and deal with the needs of a regular listener looking for a good fiddle music and finding it here, but a bit more like a fellow who is looking for quartz crystals coming across an active ruby mine. Beginning with the proud and rollicking Simon St. Pierre and winding up with a too-brief pair of items from the fascinating and strongly countrified Joe Politte, this album contains a series of performances that are profound and will stay in both the heart and the feet for a long time. Louis Boudreault must feel the same away about the latter part of the body for sure -- his clogging accompaniment as he sits in a chair playing fiddle tunes has the impact of Billy Cobham on a double bass drum pedal, minus the attitude. French music of North America, be it from the north or the south, is full of an indescribable joy -- it is music that whirls around the room, that embraces the listener in a way that is quite amazing when a combo such as the Balfa Brothers are holding forth, and even more remarkable when it is only a solo fiddle creating the magic. The first side of this album, consisting completely of the latter type of performances from both St. Pierre and Boudreault, is for sure a platter to lay on the turntable when solo fiddle music is in demand. These are live performances, too, nicely edited to include on-stage patter and the roar of the crowd, a phenomenon that seems to happen during the music as well at the conclusion of a piece.

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