Les Poules à Colin
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Les Poules à Colin

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2008

Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Folk Traditional


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Les Poules à Colin - the latest and youngest band out of the hot Québécois traditional music scene"

Talk about precocious talent! When Les Poules à Colin started performing together they were all still in school, and singer and fiddler Béa Méthé wasn’t yet a teenager. Fast forward half a decade and the five have become seasoned players, with a new take on Quebecois folk - recharging the music from within while at the same time bringing fresh elements from outside.

“We grew up listening to live traditional music,” says guitarist Éléonore Pitre, interviewed in the Montreal apartment she shares with Marie Savoie-Levac [electric bass], and Sarah Marchand [keyboards and main vocals]. “All of us have parents who’ve played an active part in the revival here. We’ve been friends since childhood, which gives us a special bond you just don’t get in most groups.”

The decision to form a band came at Quebec’s premier trad festival Mémoire et Racines, where Éléonore’s dad Gilles was artistic director. “We were already jamming together and got inspired watching people having such a great time onstage,” Marie recalls. “We all thought ‘we could be doing that’. It felt like a very natural step for us to take.”

The name they chose, which translates as Colin’s Chickens, comes from a favourite call-and-response song La Poule à Colin, recorded on their first demo - about an unfortunate but miraculous fowl that strays into the neighbour’s yard, gets killed and cooked, and ends up feeding the entire village. It’s also a nudge to fifth member 19 year-old Colin Savoie-Levac, Marie’s younger brother, who plays guitar, mandolin, and banjo, and serves as percussionist on the faster tunes, drumming his feet like a horse at gallop.

The most traditional player in the band, Colin has subbed in La Bottine Souriante, De Temps Antan, and Trio Yves Lambert. He’s a muscular and very versatile musician, with interests and experience beyond Quebecois folk.

“I’m in my third year in the jazz-pop programme at junior college in Joliette where we grew up [80kms north of Montreal]. All of us except Béa have studied there. It’s not like we apply jazz concepts to what we do, but it’s definitely an influence on our approach to things like chord progressions.”

“Also the way we like to improvise on our solos,” adds Marie.

What most evidently sets Les Poules à Colin apart from other Quebecois bands however is the degree of their openness to Anglo traditions. “My mother Dana Whittle is American and a musician,” says Béa. “She introduces me to a lot of songs and writes them too - I do some with the group in English. And Annabel by the Duhks is one of the first songs we performed.”

“It’s just part of the creative process for us,” Colin stresses. “We don’t feel Quebecois music lacks anything, but we try to be like sponges, absorbing all that crosses our path, learning as much as possible. As a result our music is a big mix.”

Les Poules à Colin’s debut album, the mysteriously-titled Hébertisme Nocturne, is certainly striking in its diversity. Every member contributes at least one original piece, there are lesser-known songs and tunes from Quebec, a crackling version of Irish accordionist Josephine Marsh’s reel Bainis, two songs by Béa’s mum – the Appalachian-flavoured Love Is A Chance and a ghost story in jig-time The Ballad Of Mary And Margaret – plus the bright and airy Sous La Feuille from Brittany, sung by Sarah who has family ties there.

The arrangements are adventurous and finely honed. “We all work together on them,” says Sarah. “Sometimes they come really fast, and sometimes, well, it can be a lengthy process. But we’ve developed a great understanding and don’t have a hard time making compromises. There’s no clash of egos or quarrelling like in some groups we know. We share the same vision.”

“Now we’re putting material together for our second album, and have more than half of it worked out,” says Marie. “As musicians we’ve matured a lot, obviously, though our basic orientation hasn’t changed.”

While most Quebecois still associate their homegrown folk chiefly with occasions like the Christmas holidays or mid-summer’s St Jean Baptiste Day, Les Poules à Colin are helping to broaden attitudes for their own generation.

“The old clichés are starting to give way, and I feel things are opening up,” says Colin. “We’re definitely seeing more people our age coming to the gigs.”

“But the world of trad musicians remains small here,” Éléonore chips in. “Everybody knows everybody, which we really like. We’ve got a lot of friends, and when we meet up at festivals, or wherever, it’s always going to be like a big party - that’s what this music is all about.” - Tony Montague

"Les Poules à Colin find inspiration beyond Quebec"

You might think Quebec’s Les Poules à Colin (translation: Colin’s Hens) got their name because they’re a five-piece outfit consisting of four girls and a teenage multi-instrumentalist called Colin. But that’s only part of it. “La Poule à Colin” is a popular song about a chicken that wanders into the neighbour’s yard, has its kidneys broken, gets cooked, and miraculously feeds the entire parish; this includes the priest who likes the sauce so much he dips his hands in it—and so forgets to say mass, to the chagrin of the old ladies “who really need it”.
“All of us knew it well,” says fiddler Béa Méthé, reached at a band practice in Joliette. “We’ve been good friends since we were really young because our parents are active in the folk scene here. We’ve jammed for a long time, but the idea for a group came four years ago.”
The band’s multi-talented main threat, Colin Savoie-Levac, adds: “Our music is really a mix. We all bring influences from what we’ve learned and liked. Béa has a background in classical music, Eléonore [Pitre], Sarah [Marchand], and my older sister Marie all studied jazz. I’m more tradition-oriented but am studying jazz-pop guitar at college.”
On Les Poules à Colin’s 2010 debut, Hébertisme Nocturne, the inspiration comes primarily from Québécois folk, but there’s a strong influence from other forms of North American roots music.
“The first song we did was a cover of ‘Annabel’ by the Duhks, one of our favourite bands,” Méthé says. “My mother’s American, and she introduces quite a lot of songs and tunes to me, some of her own—like ‘The Ballad of Mary and Margaret’, which is on our album.”
The family links get tighter. Both Méthé—who’s still in high school—and Savoie-Levac play in the group Dentdelion, along with the latter’s mom, Denise Savoie-Levac, on flute and the former’s parents, Dana Whittle on guitar and Claude Méthé (also on fiddle).
“The two bands are really distinct—though Béa and I can’t completely change the way we play, of course,” Savoie-Levac says. “Both of them play music that’s almost entirely original, but Dentdelion takes a more traditional approach, and there’s that shared understanding you only really get in a family. The material Les Poules do is more arranged and complex, as we all work together on everything to develop our own sound and make it all cohere.”
All five members of Les Poules compose—mostly alone, which has led to some odd suggestions for titles by Savoie-Levac.
“He never has proper names for what he writes because he doesn’t know where his ideas come from,” Méthé says with a laugh. “So he comes up with any old thing. Sometimes it can be really bizarre, and the rest of us have decided we need to approve all names before they’re used.”
“Ode to a Green Plant” and the like may relate to Savoie-Levac’s grip on things at the time inspiration strikes—usually late evening or when nodding off. “Tunes often suggest themselves when I’m tired,” he explains. “Sometimes I play music as a way of getting myself to sleep. One time I came up with a tune that was so strong it woke me right up.”

Les Poules à Colin and Dentdelion perform at the Festival du Bois, which takes place in Coquitlam’s Mackin Park from Friday to Sunday (March 1 to 3). - Tony Montague

"Les Poules à Colin - Hébertisme Nocturne"

Avec Alexis Chartrand, Timi Turmel, Alexandre B. Caron et plusieurs autres jeunes, ils font la preuve que l'avenir du trad s'annonce pour le moins prometteur.

Issus de familles de musiciens, les quatre filles et leur Colin, dont la majorité n'a pas 20 ans, ont le sens de l'arrangement et des progressions harmoniques. Aux quelques titres traditionnels de leur répertoire, dont une seule chanson à répondre, ils ajoutent le folk à l'américaine et cette façon de faire les choses à leur manière. Si certaines pièces sont chantées avec des inflexions qui rappellent Coeur de Pirate, la majorité sont instrumentales et de facture originale. C'est à la fois le folk aéré et l'énergie assumée, la valse champêtre et le chant breton, la basse intense et les coups de violons dramatiques, les courtes impros sur le reel et les pieds qui prennent leur place. Les Poules à Colin ont déjà une signature convaincante.

Yves Bernard - Yves Bernard


Still working on that hot first release.



WINNERS of the Young Tradition competition in Burlington, Vermont (2009) and the Prix de la Culture Desjardins (2010, Youth Creation) the five members of this yong group from Quebec Lanaudire region are inspired by roots music passed down from their families and learned at music camps and in jams. Their performances are entrancing and sparkle with unpretentious, natural talent and respect for their repertoire beautifully arranged original and folk-trad songs and tunes (both French and English). As the offspring of trad musucians, they all study music and have grown up alonside and learned their craft firsthand from some of Quebecs finest in a region famous for its traditions. They've already graced the stages at venues in Canada and the US. Their first album Hebertisme Nocturne was recorded with a grant from the Lanaudiere Youth Fund and the Qubec Arts Council (2011). A new recording is in the works in time for summer touring in 2014. A fresh and exciting sound !   the latest and youngest band out of the hot Qubcois traditional music scene (fRoots dec 2013)
Band Members:
Colin Savoie-Levac: Mandolin, Banjo, Guitar, podorythm, back vocal
Sarah Marchand: Piano, vocal
Beatrix Methe: Violin, Vocal
Eleonore Pitre: guitar, back vocal
Marie Savoie-Levac: bass, back vocal

Band Members