James Keelaghan wrote a series of articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times last year as part of the lead up to Summerfolk.
July 5th – Andersen and Vishtèn
All the great parties are kitchen parties. The reason has to do with time and motion. The kitchen is where the food is. If you are in the kitchen you are not far from the beer. If you are playing tunes, you don’t want to be far from the snacks or the beer. That’s why I believe that kitchens are the essential transmitters of culture.
Vishtèn, Emmanuelle and Pastelle Leblanc and Pascal Miousse, is a band that’s a product of kitchen culture.
The twin sisters are from the Evangeline on PEI, Pascal is from the Magdalene Islands. They are part of an Acadian community that has managed to thrive despite the odds.
The Acadians found refuge on Prince Edward Island after the 1755 deportations. There were over 4000 of them on the island in 1760 but by 1768 there were only a couple of hundred left. They fished out of small villages like Tracadie and Rustico. It was a hard life, but their culture survived. In their kitchens and living rooms one generation handed the music to the next.
Pascal, Emmanuelle and Pastelle play the kind of music that can only be created by people who have had music in their lives since birth. They grew up in households where fiddle music was commonplace. Their musical parents opened their home night after night to local and traveling players. Musical jams into the wee hours were a regular occurrence. They learned their craft from their parents and from local legends like Bertrand Deraspe and Louise Arsenault.
Step dancing led to piano training. Piano led to accordion, then to fiddles, guitars, whistles, jaw harps and a host of other instruments. The step dancing circled back and became foot percussion.
They’ve taken all that heritage and training and distilled it into an exciting, haunting and evocative nectar. It has the pulse and the soul of L’Acadie. It lays the foundation for the next chapter in Acadian musical culture.
Last summer, I was lying in the grass at the Calgary Folk Festival listening to a blues workshop that my brother’s band was playing in. This is strange for two reasons.
First, it’s very rare that I am at music festival just hanging out.
Second, I’m very picky when it comes to the blues.
Reclining, as I was, I could hear the music, but couldn’t see the players. They were all good, but the fourth guy in the rotation was great. Really, really, great. I thought, “That guys got to be from Mississippi”
In fact, Matt Andersen is from Perth Andover, New Brunswick.
Matt is a a big hearted man. He has fingers like sausages that shouldn’t be able to play the way they do. He has a voice like a hurricane-a perfect storm of emotion and power.
Like Vishtèn’s, Matt’s childhood was full of music. His grandparents and parents played. No gathering was complete without fiddles and guitars.
He learned tuba and trumpet but guitar playing and singing became his passion. While Matt studied studio engineering, he earned money playing in top 40 bands.
He might have been content playing in cover bands in New Brunswick but somewhere along the way the blues discovered him. Since then, the blues has been taking him on quite a trip.
In the past 18 moths he’s released his latest CD, toured on three continents and won a Juno award. At the Maple Blues Awards he won a stunning trifecta taking home hardware for all three of the categories he was nominated in-Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Acoustic Act of the Year.
He’s played with bands, but I like him best when he is solo. There is nothing to distract from his voice-from the purity of his high notes and the rumble of his lows. There is nothing to distract from his gutsy guitar playing.
Matt says he fell in love with the blues because of it’s honesty. He returns the favour by playing it honestly. That’s the most compelling thing about Matt’s music.
he sings it and plays it like he means it.
In every great kitchen party, when the fiddles and accordions take a break, there’s always a singer who can belt out a tune. Matt is that guy.
Summerfolk is glad to welcome Matt Andersen and Vishtèn to our kitchen party at Kelso Beach.
Summerfolk happens August 17, 18, 19