Members of Quebec’s La Bottine Souriante are living legends of French North American roots music. The explosive 10-member ensemble’s distinctive sound infuses traditional folk with the quickness of jazz, the energy of salsa and the breadth of world music.
Heralded as “the best band in the world!” by folk magazine Dirty Linen, La Bottine Souriante will perform a special, one-night-only concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 as part of the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series.
The troupe formed in 1976 as a Quebecois folk quintet, taking its name, which means “smiling boot,” in reference to both the worn-out soles of workingman footwear and their own exceptionally tight, dance-till-you-drop live sets.
The original lineup featured four traditional musicians — Pierre-Luc Dupuis (vocals, button accordion, harmonica), Éric Beaudry (mandolin, guitar, vocals), André Brunet (fiddle, guitar, vocals) and Pierre “Pedro” Belisle (piano, piano accordion) — along with jazzman Régent Archambault (acoustic and electric bass).
In 1990, a four-piece brass section was added — Jean Fréchette (saxophone, arrangements), Robert “Bob” Ellis (bass trombone), André Verreault (trombone) and Jocelyn Lapointe (trumpet). Rounding out the group is percussive dancer Sandy Silva.
“The urban and the rural, the now and then fuse wonderfully in the music of La Bottine Souriante, (which) slams together French-language chanson with Latin music, jazz, pop and Irish, Cajun and Acadian folk,” wrote Cary Darling of The Orange County Register.
“This band makes a wicked noise, and the longer they play, the more you’ll love them,” concurs Rogue Folk Review, while The Vancouver Courier calls the group “one of the most innovative and uplifting bands playing contemporary roots music anywhere.”
La Bottine Souriante has gained an international following through both constant touring (more than 2,200 live shows) and 11 albums released since 1982 on its own Les Disques Mille-Pattes label, which have collectively sold more than a half-million copies.
Three of these — Je Voudrais Changer d’Chapeau (1988), En Spectacle (1996) and Fire In the Kitchen (as guests of the Chief-tains in 1998) — have reached gold status in Canada (selling more than 50,000 copies) and one, La Mistrine (1994), has reached platinum (selling more than 100,000 copies).
In 2001, La Bottine Souriante celebrated its 25th anniversary with Anthology, a collection of songs illustrating its musical evolution as well as key musical influences.
The group’s most recent release, Cordial, received a 2002 Juno Award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences for Best Roots & Traditional Album and a 2002 Felix Award (French Canada’s equivalent of the Juno) for Best Traditional Album.
Other honors include Juno Awards for Je Voudrais Changer d’Chapeau and Jusqu’aux P’tites Heures (1992), and Felix Awards for Jusqu’aux P’tites Heures and La Mistrine. The band has appeared at folk festivals around the world — notably the prestigious Tønder Festival in Denmark and the WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance) Festival, founded by Peter Gabriel — and in 1999 was named Best Live Act by the BBC.
Edison Theatre programs are supported by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis.
Tickets are $28 for the general public; $23 for seniors and students; and $14 for WUSTL students and children under 12. Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets.
For more information, call 935-6543.