In 1991, André Thibault was at the Mission Folk Festival when love struck.
He met a fellow entertainer named Qui Xia He (pronounced chew-sha her) who was proficient on the pipa, a Chinese lute. At the time, He — a former teacher at Xin Academy of Music in China — was part of a project called Asza, one of the original world fusion groups that mixed sounds from Brazil, China and the Middle East with numerous instruments.
Asza found great success, toured the globe and was nominated for awards. Its unusual beats attracted collaborations with symphony orchestras, Cirque du Soileil and rock groups such as Aerosmith, Yes and the Cranberries.
Thibault toured with the group and, soon, he was part of He’s other ensemble she founded, Silk Road Music, which focused on eastern-western sounds. But by 2002, a year after Asza disbanded due to the sudden death of a band member, the couple was launching a new group that honoured Asza’s legacy.
Though Jou Tou had “a movable cast,” Thibault said, it was productive: it recorded an album and toured. Four years later, as its reputation grew, Jou Tou was in China for perform at the 50th anniversary of the Guangzhou Business Association.
Now, the Burnaby couple is best known for its educational programs, teaching students and concert-goers about multi-culture music spanning from France and North Africa to the Caribbean and Quebec.
Next Saturday (March 23), Jou Tou — along with Allan Dionne on the accordion and Phil Belanger on drums — will open the music line-up at Festival du Bois in Coquitlam with a show at 11:45 a.m. on the Grand Chapiteau (main stage) and, at 1 p.m., with a workshop at Mackin House.
Thibault, a Montreal-born musician with Acadian heritage, said the Coquitlam audience can “expect everything,” just like the name of their band Jou Tou is translated as “play everything.”
“It’s pretty eclectic what we do,” Thibault said. “We play covers with new arrangements and we have some fresh stuff. Jou Tou reminds me when I was young and playing the spanish guitar. I was pretty experimental even back then. It’s never changed.”
Festival du Bois is a staple for Jou Tou, a gathering that Thibault calls “one of the best francophone shows outside of the Quebec Winter Carnival.”
Admission to Festival du Bois on March 23 and 24 are $22/$15/$10 for each day; no cost for kids under five years old. Family and weekend packages are also available.
Discount tickets can also be bought online at $20/$13/$8. Call 604-515-7090 or visit festivaldubois.ca.