Mélisande [électrotrad] and Sean Ardoin rework an old French ballad for COVID times.
Our world is finally starting to open up again, but even as vaccines in the US are surging forwards, many other countries are feeling the pressure of a slower roll out. It was hard to get the news last week that the US / Canadian border will remain closed for another month at least, so this cross-border collaboration between Québécois artists Mélisande [électrotrad] and Louisiana Creole Zydeco star Sean Ardoin is a welcome treat. Big thanks to Folk Alliance International who have a steady schedule of cross-cultural collaborations coming soon to get us through the last months of the pandemic via this Artists in (Their) Residence series.
To anchor their collaboration, Mélisande [électrotrad] and Sean Ardoin chose the old French ballad, “V’là l’Bon Vent” (“Here’s the Good Wind”). It’s a gorgeous old medieval song that’s also found throughout French Canada. My dad sang this song to me a lot when I was a kid, and I just taught it to my kids recently, so it’s close to my heart. The lyrics are a bit strange in the original song; it’s all about a naughty prince who goes hunting ducks to make feather beds for the soldiers (check out the original, it sounds better in French!). Mélisande [électrotrad] has re-written the song here to make some clever wordplay about the disarray that COVID has brought to all our lives. I especially like the chorus of the song which they’ve changed from “Ma mie m’attend” and “Ma mie m’appelle” (my love is waiting for me / my love is calling me) to “La vie m’attend” and “La vie m’appelle” (life is waiting for me / life is calling me). I just love how they’ve taken the strangely cryptic lyrics of an old medieval French ballad and so cleverly adapted them to speak to how much COVID has rearranged our worlds and how desperate we all are to get back to living our lives again.
Mélisande [électrotrad] are known for melding Québécois tradition with new and exciting ideas, bringing electronics to the music. Made up primarily of duo Mélisande and her husband Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand, there’s a strong family element to their music, especially with their kids appearing in the video here. That’s a nice fit for their cultural counterpart, the great Zydeco musician Sean Ardoin. Sean’s a fiery character on the Zydeco scene, a two-time GRAMMY award nominee and recently a contender for mayor of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Sean’s also heir to a rich family tradition in Louisiana Creole music. In a very real sense, the Ardoins were responsible for creating modern Cajun and Zydeco, dating all the way back to early seminal 78rpm era musician Amédé Ardoin. Here, Sean’s pulled out the rubboard and the Zydeco accordion to bring some Louisiana flavor to the mix. It’s a fun collaboration and a look at the musical bridges that connect two very distinct and distant French communities.
Folk Alliance International