Veronique Chevalier
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Veronique Chevalier

West Hollywood, California, United States | INDIE

West Hollywood, California, United States | INDIE
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"Polka Haunt Us Recording Delivers Spook-tacularly"

Polka Haunt Us Recording Delivers Spook-tacularly
by Frank DiCostanzo

After listening to Veronique Chevalier's "Polka Haunt Us," one wonders how something so devilish can indeed sound so heavenly. My mortal ears were scintillated in ways I never could have imagined. Supported by the elegant production work of Jann Castor, this single-themed compilation is just oozing with originality and sophistication.

It all works to compliment the creative lyrics and showmanship of the mastermind behind the songs themselves. Chevalier weaves together her imaginative lyrics with thirteen spooky folktales and fables from around the world, giving each song a unique historio-cultural orientation.

Of course, one can just sit back and listen to this Wonka-esque boat-ride of musical delights, oblivious to any folkloric inspiration. The music's impact alone is enough to keep you at the edge of your coffin.

A quirky yet dynamic concept album, both Halloween- and polka-inspired, "Polka Haunt Us" brings together a talented menagerie of world-renowned musicians, from Lili Haydn (the Jimi Hendrix of violin), to UCLA percussion instructor, Kirk Brundage, to Norwegian soprano, Elisabeth Ekornes.

And the list hardly stops here. Also featured are 2007 Polka Grammy Nominee Alex Meixner; virtuoso accordionist, Gee Rabe, vocalist/actress Marion Ramsey (Sgt. Laverne Hooks of Police Academy film lore), and accomplished "world" guitarist, Goh Kurosawa, to name just a few of the sixteen artists brought together by chaunteuse extraordinaire, Veronique Chevalier.

Even those familiar with Chevalier's penchant for the outrageous will be impressed with the generosity—and grandiosity—of this truly potent witch's brew of a record. Take the Afterwife Polka Tango, a track inspired by Eva Peron's publicly displayed corpse (with music composed by Mike Surratt):

"Evita's husband that Juan Peron Embalmed her in a fancy tomb of her own So he was prepared in the afterlife To have himself a trophy after-wife"

This sets up Eva as the perfect contrast to dead wives who now haunt their cheap, ungrateful husbands from beyond—and at times out of—the grave: "If you hadn't buried me in that cheap casket, I'd still have all of my original skin left."

Then there's Devil's Guitar, based on a purely American myth about a young man called Lazy Billy who discovers a guitar (possibly belonging to legendary bluesman, Robert Johnson). However, the guitar is a snare set by the Devil as Billy ultimately, and comically, plays himself to death: "On and on poor Billy played, his fingers bloody stumps / Then he knew he'd been betrayed, the Devil always trumps."

This sort of pointed satire is typical of Chevalier's vaudevillian style and slapstick candor, but "Polka Haunt Us" moves beyond the boundaries of satirical lyric-based music.

Tracks like Blank Face Goblins and Strange Faces in the Floor launch the listener almost without warning into the realm of the experimental. Yet it is experimental in the traditional sense, artfully combining styles of music seemingly disparate, while calling on themes and soundscapes of more popular music forms.

Add to this subtle, interspersed vocal arrangements (notably Strange Faces and Kalkajaka Polka) along with highly-crafted sampling and noise manipulation (Polka Haunt Us), and the album truly paints Chevalier as a 21st-century iconoclast at her best.

I look forward to whatever future achievements lie in store for the ambitious Chevalier. "Polka Haunt Us" has a robust, if not grotesque charm, making it a true masterpiece of the bizarre. I find it a consummate compilation, worth cherishing for many full moons to come.

Frank DiCostanzo is a writer, musician, and entrepreneur. His company, Messina Editorial Group, specializes in book editing, writer coaching, and multimedia consulting. Visit him at: http://MessinaEditorialGroup.com - Messina Editorial Group


Discography

3) Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation *
(Receives extra attention during Halloween season. Has received worldwide radio play).

2) Veronique's Red Velvet LIVE!
(Limited Edition recording, featuring a handmade cover, designed & created by Veronique from recycled materials.
Available only at her live performances.)

1) Cabaret4Choice *
(A self-produced concept recording with numerous guest musicians, to benefit Planned Parenthood.
FREE downloads at the website.)

Photos

Bio

Not limited to her role as a lyricist and performer, Veronique is also an astute entertainment entrepreneur, who envisions & serves as executive producer of startlingly original and seemingly improbable collaborative projects. (Think of her as the Terry Gilliam of music).

Her latest foray in this capacity resulted in "Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compilation" , which was an Official Selection on the 51st Annual Grammy Ballot.

Consisting of 13 tracks, plus one bonus, the songs are based on authentic supernatural folklore from around the world, featuring an astonishing array of accomplished guest performers:

* 2007 Grammy Nominee, Composer and Accordionist- Alex Meixner
* State of Maryland Governor's Citation Winner, Composer & Accordionist- Mike Surratt
* Master Yodeler, Disney Character Vocalist- Kerry Christensen
* Accordion Federation of North America Award winner- Gigi Rabe

And there are also numerous other participating recordings artists making a foray into the realm of polka for the first time. These include:

* Vocalist/Actress- Marion Ramsey (AKA Sgt. Laverne Hooks "Police Academy" films)
* The "Jimmy Hendrix of the Violin"- Lili Haydn
* ARIA (Australian Grammy) Nominee; Producer/Composer/Arranger/Engineer- Jann Castor
* Bassist/Warr Guitarist & member of Goth project "Collide"- Kai Kurosawa
* Standup Comedian/Voiceover Artist/Writer for Comedy Central- Gary Shapiro

And more!

About the recording:

"Polka Haunt Us - A Spook-tacular Compilation" is based on authentic folk tales from around the world, & all lyrics are written by Veronique. Less a novelty project and more an experiment in ethnomusicology, the album is reminiscent of Harry Smith's Folkways recordings for the Smithsonian Trust, or the compilation "Songs from the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers" with a Nick Cave "Murder Ballads" twist.

This family-"fiend"-ly concept album immerses the listener in a haunted laboratory of sorts, to experience the preternatural birth of a Sonic Franken-Stein, and is best savored in its entirety. (Think of it as an "Auditory GPS" guiding you on a spook-tacular grand tour of the globe!)

PHU illustrates Polka's storytelling power, and is sure to become a perennial Halloween favorite as a soundtrack for television, film or live theatre, cirque, performance art, or just sitting around the campfire.

PHU Track List:

01 The Beer Hall In Hell (Alpine Austria) (3:26)
02 Ghost Train (Canada) (4:42)
03 Castle Leap (Celtic Ireland) (3:37)
04 After Wife (Argentina) (4:13)
05 Bubbe's Dybbuk Polka (Eastern European Jewish) (3:30)
06 White Witch Of Jamaica (Caribbean) (4:05)
07 Devil's Guitar (US) (5:47)
08 Fisher Bird Girl (Norway) (6:17)
09 Blank Face Goblins (Japan) (3:49)
10 Strange Faces In The Floor (Spain) (3:32)
11 Kalkajaka Polka (Aboriginal Australia) (3:40)
12 Full Moon Face Off (Gypsy) (3:31)
13 Polka Haunt Us (Eerie Soundscape) (2:29)
14 Vampire Surprise (Transylvania) (Bonus Track) (4:04)

* FREE full stream of bonus track "Vampire Surprise" here:

* Full lyrics (and info about artists on each song) here:

* Featured full page article in Rue Morgue Magazine:

* Polka Haunt Us "Info-tainment" Promo Video:

* Reverbnation Profile:

* Veronique named Unanimous Choice for Best Independent Cabaret Artist
@ The 14th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards