May 18, 2008
The last French Canadian folk music I posted was six months ago, so I thought I might feature another this week – especially since I found myself humming this song repeatedly. When that happens, I feel I have to go straight to the shelves, grab that piece of music, and remind myself of the innate qualities therein. This I did, and here it is for you, too.
Joseph Ovila LaMadeleine (1880-1973) was a left-handed fiddler based in Montreal, where he owned a music shop. In the late 1920s, when he was already nearly 50, he began his recording career for Starr Records. For the next 15 years on Starr, he recorded 54 records of wonderfully played reels, quadrilles, and waltzes like this track, which was recorded in the winter of 1937. While this tune is not a fiddle showdown like some of his others, I find it beautifully unpretentious, largely due to the vocal by his daughter Jeannette.
Starr Records got its name from the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana. The Starr Piano Company also produced a little label called Gennett, only one of the greatest, most sought-after record labels in jazz, country, and blues history. The Compo Company (run by the son of Emile Berliner) began pressing the Starr and Gennett labels in Canada in 1919, and gradually began recording as well. The Starr label continued into the 40s, long after Starr Piano left the record business, with the Starr label reserved strictly for Canadian recordings.
For more LaMadeleine, there is a track on the Rounder collection Raw Fiddle. You can also visit The Virtual Gramophone and hear quite a few LaMadeleine recordings, albeit at 64kbps. Better than nothing!
Lastly, an announcement for 1960s African music fans: very soon I will be writing a guest post over at the fine Matsuli Music blog. There will be LOTS to download, and it will be very limited, so if you don’t want to miss that, keep checking Matsuli.
Issue Number: 16066
Matrix Number: 7968-1
December 3, 2007
While there’s plenty of incredible American, Cajun, and Irish-American fidders, there’s also a rich history of fiddle-based folk music from Canada. And while some diehard fans of the back-woods American fiddlers might scoff (and I, myself, first gained interest in 78s through early American country music), it’s difficult to deny a track like this, Isidore Soucy’s quadrille, which is similar to a square-dance, except without calls. According to one source I found, a quadrille is historically a dance representing a maiden fleeing a young man’s advances, and like much folk music, was performed at community gatherings, parties, or with family.
Isidore Soucy (b. Ste-Blandine, Québec, 1899, d. Montreal, 1963) was a force in traditional Québécois folk music. His recording career began in the late 1920s as a soloist, and lasted well into the LP-era, recording often with his wife and four children as the Famille Soucy. His fiddling is not as raw as some American country fiddlers, it’s more stylish and rhythmic, and its European influence is more apparent (especially with it’s piano accompaniment, like many Irish-American fiddling records of the day) – but the virtuosity is there. This track was recorded at a very early point in his career, ca. 1927.
You can find more Soucy at the virtuous Virtual Gramophone website, which has dozens of fine French-Canadian folk music tracks for download (though, not this one). I would also recommend listening to some tracks by Joseph Allard.
Issue Number: 34103-F
Matrix Number: E 2685