If you’re craving homemade poutine and tourtiere, want to hear multicultural music and have a chance to pratiquer votre français, Coquitlam’s Festival du Bois is the place to be this weekend.
The 31st annual francophone fete at Mackin Park in Maillardville launches Friday night, bringing in a diverse group of entertainers and experiences to the historically French-Canadian enclave.
This year’s Festival du Bois music lineup is especially eclectic, offering Celtic sounds, traditional Quebecois tunes and even hip hop.
Returning to the Grand Chapiteau for the seventh time is the Yves Lambert Trio, which headlines Saturday and Sunday in the Grand Chapiteau. “It’s like playing to old friends,” Lambert told The Tri-City News last Friday. “It’s always a pleasure to be back on the west coast.”
Accompanied by Olivier Rondeau and Tommy Gauthier, Lambert is best known for reviving Quebec’s musical roots through his bands La Bottine Souriante and Bébert Orchestra.
With the former group, Lambert won three Juno awards; his trio formed 10 years ago after a tour of la belle province of Quebec.
While he has slowed down his touring schedule in recent years after nearly five decades in the industry, Lambert said he still likes to get out to keep his ear to the ground: He has strong views on American politics and Canadian pipelines, and he sometimes weaves in his advocacy with his acts.
At Festival du Bois, he plans to perform his famous song Dans le bayou St-Laurent — a stinging criticism of the Louisiana oil industry.
“I’m an activist but I’m very smooth on stage because we sing for many people,” he said. “It’s my responsibility as an entertainer for everyone to have fun.”
Meanwhile, the all-female trio Tipsy 3 are newcomers to Festival du Bois. Made up of Jocelyne Bourque (New Brunswick), Kimberley Holmes (Nova Scotia) and Susie Lemay (Quebec), the four-year-old ensemble will be performing on the west coast for they first time — playing songs from the east coast.
“The music travels well,” Bourque said. “It’s a big country and you can see the similarities from province to province. At the end of the day, you socialize, you educate, you dance and sing. You celebrate Canada.”
The Métis will also have a place for the first time at the festival to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Red River Resistance, led by Louis Riel in 1869-’70.
The North Fraser Métis Association, in partnership with Metis Nation BC, will have a tent (between the Grand Chapiteau and the food zone) for guests to hear the string sounds from fiddlers Keith Hill, JJ Lavallée and Kathleen Nesbitt, among others.
As well, former Coquitlam resident Pat Calihou will be on site to show how to carve a wooden paddle while Métis elders will share stories in English and their native language of Michif.
Ken Robillard, co-ordinator of the North Fraser Métis Association, told The Tri-City News that nearly 90,000 people in B.C. identify as Métis.
“I’ve been excited about this event for many months,” he said. “We are glad to do this at Festival du Bois and to raise the profile of the Métis for me and my people.”
Festival du Bois opens Friday at Mackin Park (1046 Brunette Ave., Coquitlam) with a free all-ages Contra Dance in the Grand Chapiteau (Big Tent), featuring live music from The Sybaritic String Band and caller Maureen Collier.
Tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $22/$15/$10 (no cost for kids under five) each day; discounts are available for online ticket purchases. Call 604-515-7070 or visit festivaldubois.ca.