A few years back, an uncle of the Sabourin family in Quebec asked some of his relatives to play at a surprise concert.
And the experience was so rewarding that five of them formed a professional band to keep the traditional French-Canadian music alive.
Next week, as part of the 33rd annual Festival du Bois at Mackin Park, Le Diable a Cinq (translation: The Devil at Five) marks its first performance at the Coquitlam gathering, as well as one of its first returns to live shows since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown started two years ago.
On April 2, they’ll play under the Grand Chapiteau starting at 4:30 p.m., while on April 3, they’ve got a music workshop at Mackin House, as well as a performance on the Main Stage at 3:10 p.m.
Éloi Sabourin (vocals and piano) — who is joined by brothers Samuel and Félix, their cousin André-Michel Dambremont and their childhood friend, Rémi Pagé — told the Tri-City News they’ll be featuring songs well known in the Ripon, Outaouais, region, where they call home, plus some original tunes.
Just as the pandemic was declared in March 2020, Éloi said Le Diable a Cinq was starting a tour to promote its latest album, Debout!; that work was nominated for a 2021 Juno Award in the Traditional Roots Album of the Year category, as a well as a Felix Award and a Canadian Folk Music Award.
When the tour was cancelled, the ensemble kept busy with live-streamed performances and school projects.
“Since then, we’ve had a lot of time to make new material, too,” he said.
“I can’t guarantee we will play those songs at Festival du Bois, but maybe if the crowd feels good, we can try some out.”
Still, the Coquitlam concerts aren’t the only reason Le Diable a Cinq are headed west.
It’s also booked for the Maple Sugar Festival Du Sucre D’erable in Nanaimo before returning to Quebec for a couple of gigs. In May, they'll head south to Kansas City for the Folk Alliance International.
“Things are starting to get going once more,” Éloi said.
“It’s good for us because we love creating good memories and we can’t wait to get in front of an audience again.
“We were very excited to be invited to Festival du Bois for the first time.”
To see Le Diable a Cinq and other musical acts, you can visit the Festival du Bois website.
The festivities run April 1 to 3 at Mackin Park (1046 Brunette Ave.). There is no admission charge for Friday night; however, on Saturday and Sunday, entry with online tickets is $20/$13/$8 (no cost for kids under five). There is a fee for the pancake breakfast on Sunday morning.
You can also visit the Festival Du Bois website to register for the following events:
- Christine Tassan et les Imposteures, in concert, Saturday, March 26, 7:30 p.m. at Place des Arts (1200 Brunette Ave.). This Gypsy jazz band draws inspiration from poetry and swing to weave a rich new musical universe.
- “L’Arracheuse de temps” by Francis Leclerc, screening (in French w/ English subtitles), Thursday, March 31, 7 p.m. at Cineplex SilverCity (170 Schoolhouse St.). “The Time Thief” is a 2021 Canadian period drama and fantasy film about a sick grandmother who uses stories from her youth to try to convince her 11-year-old grandson that death does not exist.