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Electronica mixes with folk at Coquitlam's Festival du Bois this weekend

There’s a new vibe coming out of Québec — and the edgy electronic beats fused with traditional French-Canadian tunes are making waves around the world.
Mélisande and Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand whip up traditional Québécois melodies with electronic beats. The duo will close Festival du Bois on Saturday night with a show at 7:30 p.m. They return for an encore performance on the Main Stage on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

There’s a new vibe coming out of Québec — and the edgy electronic beats fused with traditional French-Canadian tunes are making waves around the world.

That’s what Nicolas Pellerin and Mélisande say, two Québecois entertainers who have performed to crowds of all sizes over the past year, from Australia to Europe.

This weekend, they will bring their modern sounds to Coquitlam’s 28th annual Festival du Bois, the largest francophone fête on Canada’s west coast that is organized by the Société francophone de Maillardville.

Pellerin, a fiddler, and his band, les Grand Hurleurs — aka Stéphane Tellier (guitar) and Simon Lepage (bass) — mix classical, manouche, electronica and folk music while Mélisande and her Juno-nominated partner Alexandre “Moulin” de Grosboir-Garand pack a punch with their pulsating sounds fresh from the streets of Montréal.

“There are a lot of traditional-style groups in Québec who are doing what we’re doing: Giving a twist to French-Canadian music,” Pellerin said. “It resonates well, no matter where we go. There are countries that don’t speak French but it doesn’t seem to matter. They dance and we all have a lot of fun playing our music.”

Mélisande concurred. “We have very upbeat dance music and there are a lot of francophiles everywhere we go. They like practising their French with us and finding out what we’re all about. Everybody has a good time,” she said.

It will be Mélisande’s first time at Festival du Bois and she, along with her bandmates — including Robin Boulianne (violin, banjo, foot percussion, vocal) and Alexis Martin (drums, percussions, programming) — have the prime spot on Saturday night to close the festival.

Mélisande said she’s “super psyched” about their performance and to play compositions off their sophomore album Les millésimes (the vintages), which came out last month on Borealis Records (the band also promotes the CD in Australia during a tour next month).

Meanwhile, back on the Festival du Bois stage for the third time will be Squamish fiddler Jocelyn Pettit, who last year released a CD titled Caravan, of Celtic tunes.

The step dancer and singer is also popular on the international circuit and, in August, will return to Normandy, France, for its week-long Acadian music fest.

“It’s fabulous sharing music near Juno Beach and celebrating the contributions Canada gave during the war,” Pettit said. “The whole community really comes together and the spirit and energy is just remarkable.”

Festival du Bois is one of her favourite stops in the year, she said. “It’s such a wonderful event. There is so much great music and different types of French culture.”

Also lined up for the 28th annual fete are Suroît — which is performing at Dîner en Plaid at the John B Pub in Coquitlam on Wednesday — Zal Sissokho & Buntalo, Jeremiah McLane & Ruthie Dornfelf, Podrythmie and Échos du Pacifique, an award-winning Maillardville-based choir under the artistic direction of Marla Mayson.

The party starts Friday night with live music from the Sybaritic String Band, a Vancouver contradance band that entertains once a month at the Rogue Folk Club.

• Festival du Bois runs Friday to Sunday at Mackin Park (1046 Brunette Ave., Coquitlam). Tickets are $15 for Friday night, and $15/$10 per day for Saturday and Sunday (a two-day adult pass is $25). There’s no charge for kids under five. Don’t forget the pancake breakfast on Sunday morning for $7/$3 (not included in admission). Visit