La Bottine Souriante

Dateline: 11/28/97

La Bottine Souriante is one of a kind. The band was formed in Québec in 1976 with five core members: Régent Archambault on double bass; Denis Fréchette on piano, accordion piano, and flügelhorn; Michel Bordeleau on mandolin, fiddle, vocals, and feet (yes, you read that correctly -- feet. Michel is the band's percussion section!); Yves Lambert on lead vocals, diatonic accordion, chromatic accordion, and harmonica; and Martin Racine on fiddle and guitar.

Their formation marked an interesting blend of styles. Régent and Denis have jazz backgrounds, while Michel, Yves, and Martin are traditional musicians. As a result, La Bottine Souriante is not only the most renowned traditional music group in Québec, but their Acadian flavor and blend of musical traditions from France, England, Ireland, and Scotland have gained the band fans around the world.

In recent years, the band moved from five pieces to nine, with the addition of a four-piece brass section: Robert Ellis on bass trombone; Jean Fréchette on saxophone and brass arrangements; Jocelyn Lapointe on trumpet; and André Verreault on trombone. The sound is incredibly powerful, with a dynamic stage presence captured on their latest album En Spectacle.

En Spectacle captures the band live performing their best-known songs, sometimes with a new twist. It won the band a Félix award for Album of the Year in the Folk category at the recent Gala de L'ADISQ, the Québec equivalent of the Juno awards (the Canadian version of the Grammies).

I highly recommend En Spectacle not only as an introduction to La Bottine Souriante, but as a toe-tapping, energetic album. I've only been familiar with La Bottine Souriante for a short time, but one listen is all it takes to get hooked!

Until next time, keep in touch.

Previous Features