Cobbler's Dream

“Cobbler's Dream bursts with lyricism and expertise. Hart's light fleeting touch joined by Marchand's great versatility as a guitarist produce a better CD than I have heard in a long time. The mood shifts from wistful to merry and back again, and the French words are really interesting. It's a must!” -- Mia Boynton, folklorist and guitarist

"I have fallen in love with Canot d'écorce -- I love how you put the two melodies together, it is very satisfying! And I always enjoy your nyckelharpa playing. This is the first I've heard you on Hardanger fiddle, and that is beautiful as well. You are so talented and accomplished on these instruments. Lovely!" -- Mer Boel, fiddler

"Warm and exquisite." -- Sandy Cowan, dancer

“I really enjoy listening to your new CD is just one piece of beautiful music after the other.” --Rich Sobel, fiddler, Vancouver BC

“The CD has a great variety of genres and timbres. We especially like the fiddle/vocal harmonies.” Rick Biesantz, multi-instrumentalist

“This is a delightful CD. I enjoy listening to it a lot. Very top notch musicians on a well produced CD. I also gave a copy to my dad for Father's day and he loves it too. I especially like the Hardanger fiddle selections.”
--Pat W

Annotated Track List

1. Halling, Anita, Marche [violin, guitars, nyckelharpa]
This set brings together our major musical influences: Scandinavian, Celtic and French. While Laurie was studying music in Norway in 2002, she heard the Lom Spelemannslag, a fiddle club from the Gudbrandsdal region, play this halling at a competition. Our good friend Jean-Paul Loyer of Joliette (Québec) composed the second tune for his mother Anita. We first met and played music together in 1996 thanks to Jean-Paul, and we have been big fans of his jigs ever since. Paul lived and played music in Brittany for two years; he learned this march from the group Pennoù Skoulm.

2. Sur un air de reproche (On a Note of Reproach) [vocal, guitar, violin]
Poem by Gaston Coûté (1880-1911) of Beauce (France), music by Gérard Pierron. Here's the story of a man who looks back at his life and remembers a lesson from his peasant father. As the poet says, a few simple words can influence one's whole life.

Quand j'étais petit, petit
À l'assemblée du pays
Guère plus haut qu'une pomme
Mon père un bon paysan
M'avait dit en me glissant
Des gros sous dans la menotte:
« Tiens, p'tit gars, v'là deux sous
Pour ton assemblée
Tiens, p'tit gars, v'la deux sous
Mais n'les dépense pas »

Avec les autres morveux
Je courais le coeur joyeux
Jusque sur la place en fête
Écoutant le carillon
De mon unique billon
Qui tintait dans ma pochette

Chez le marchand de gâteaux
Installé dessous l'ormeau
C'était la galette au beurre
Et le sucre d'orge blond
Et la roue aux macarons
Qu'une plume d'oie effleure

Devant tout ce paradis
Je restais abasourdi
N'osant rien dire et rien faire
puis je retournais chez nous
pleurant avec mes deux sous
Que m'avait donnés mon père

Ainsi belle aux yeux charmants
Qui dites m'aimer vraiment
Sans vouloir me laisser prendre
Parmi votre corps osé
Ce que j'appelle un baiser
Près de vous je crois entendre:
« Tiens, p'tit gars, v'la deux sous
Pour ton assemblée
Tiens, p'tit gars, v'la deux sous
Mais n'les dépense pas »

When I was very small at the country fair, hardly bigger than an apple, my father, a good farmer, said to me as he slipped me a big coin in my little hand, "Here, little lad, here are two cents for your fair, but don't spend them." With the other little brats, I ran off with a happy heart, up to the fair grounds, hearing the ringing of my single coin, which jingled in my pocket. At the stall of the cake seller, set up under the young elm, there were butter cookies, yellow barley sugar and the macaroon roulette wheel stopped by the touch of a goose feather. In front of all this paradise I stood amazed, not daring to say or do anything, then returned to my house crying with my two cents which my father gave me. So, Beauty with the charming eyes, you who say you love me truly without wanting to let me kiss your sensual body, near you, I believe I hear, "Here, little lad, here are two cents for your fair, but don't spend them."

3. Indifférence [violin, guitar]
A French musette waltz composed by Tony Murena (1917-1971) and Joseph Colombo (1897-1973). Valse-musette was an accordion tradition in the cafés of suburban Paris in the 1920s-1940s.

4. Derrière chez nous (Behind Our House), Les poules huppées (Crested Hens), Gavotte [violins, guitar]
The first two are French 3-beat bourrées, the second composed by Gilles Chabanat of Auvergne. Paul learned the gavotte from his wife Monique, who is from Brittany.

5. Canot d'écorce (Bark Canoe), Vanhaa Valssia (Old Waltz) [vocal, nyckelharpa, guitar]
This song from the era of voyageurs was made popular in Québec in the 1960s by the singer Raoul Roy. Its main theme goes back to 15th century Europe, while the refrain is inspired by the legend La Chasse Galerie. Loggers in remote camps in Québec could make a pact with the Devil, who would provide them a flying canoe so they could visit their sweethearts at home on New Year`s Eve. We weave the song with a Finnish waltz which Laurie learned from the group Troka.

Mon père n'avait fille que moi, canot d'écorce qui vole, qui vole
Encore sur la mer il m'envoie, canot d'écorce qui volera

Le marinier qui m'y menait ... il devint amoureux de moi
Il dit « La Belle, embrassez-moi » ... « Non, non, monsieur, je n'oserais
Car si mon papa le savait ... fille battue, ce serait moi »
« Qui d'entre nous le lui dirait? » ... « Ce serait l'oiseau de ces bois »
« L'oiseau de ces bois parle-t-il? » ... « Il parle anglais, l'français aussi
Il parle anglais, l'français aussi ... Il dit ce qu'on lui a t'appris »

My father had no daughter but me, bark canoe which flies, which flies, yet away on the sea he sent me, bark canoe which will fly. The boatman who took me there fell in love with me. He said, "Beauty, kiss me." "No, sir, I dare not, because if my father knew it, a beaten girl I would be." "Who between us would tell him?" "It would be the bird of these woods." "Does the bird of these woods speak?" "It speaks English, French too. It tells what we have taught it."

6. Polska efter Ritekt-Jerk [nyckelharpa]
This is a couple-dance tune from Bingsjö, Sweden. Laurie plays it solo on the Swedish keyed fiddle, or nyckelharpa, an instrument of medieval ancestry. Laurie's modern chromatic 'harpa has four bowed strings, twelve sympathetic strings, and three rows of keys.

7. Låt till far (Tune for Father), Snowy Path, Kid on the Mountain [violin, guitar]
We begin with a Swedish march composed by Pers Erik Olsson, and continue with a pair of Irish slip jigs, the first composed by Mark Kelly of the group Altan. Kid on the Mountain was the hook that drew Laurie into fiddling from classical music in the mid-1980s. What a pleasure to record it with Paul!

8. Aux marches du palais (On the Palace Steps) [vocal, violins, guitar]
There are many versions of this charming story of the cobbler's dream set to music in France and Québec. Paul heard this version in Brittany sung by Mathieu Hamon, a great singer from the Pays Gallo region (Eastern Brittany). The melody fiddle plays the responses in the style of the Breton diskaner (second singer), overlapping each line of the kaner (first singer).

Aux marches du palais, lundi, mardi, jour de mai
Aux marches du palais, y a t'une jolie servante
Y a t'une jolie servante, lundi, mardi, danse

Elle a tant d'amoureux ... qu'elle ne sait lequel prendre
Elle aime le fils du roi ... celui d'un valet d'chambre
C'est un p'tit cordonnier ... qui a eu la préférence
Il lui fit des souliers ... à la mode de Nantes
Quand il lui mit au pied ... Il lui fit sa demande
« La belle, si tu voulais ... nous coucherions ensemble
Dans un beau lit carré ... couvert de toiles blanches
Aux quatre coins du lit ... le rossignol y chante
Et en-dessous du lit ... la rivière est courante
Tous les chevaux du roi ... viennent y boire ensemble
Le noir il s'est noyé ... le plus beau de la bande
Si le roi le savait ... il nous ferait tous pendre »

On the palace steps, monday, tuesday, day of may, there's a pretty servant girl monday, tuesday, dance. She has so many lovers she doesn't know which one to take. She loves the son of the king, also the king's valet. But it is a little cobbler who wins her heart. He makes her shoes in the style of Nantes. When he puts them on her feet, he pops the question: "Beauty, if you would like it we could sleep together in a beautiful square bed covered in white linens. At the four corners of the bed, the nightingale sings, and underneath the bed the river flows. All the king's horses come drink there together. The black one drowned there, the most beautiful of the band. If the king knew it, he would hang us all."

9. Vossarudl etter Ola Mosafinn [Hardanger fiddle]
A rudl is a beautiful Norwegian turning dance for couples. Laurie learned this one in Voss (Western Norway) from Arne Anderdal. It is played in the style of famous Voss fiddler Ola Mosafinn (1828-1912). The Hardanger fiddle is highly decorated with inlay and ink drawings, with 5 sympathetic strings running underneath the fingerboard. It is used in South-Central and Western Norway, traditionally as a solo instrument. Its repertoire of dance and listening tunes has been carefully passed down the centuries in oral tradition, bow stroke for bow stroke.

10. La bonne-femme Noël (Mrs. Noël), Reel du gaucher (Left-Hander's Reel), Reel à Raymond [violin, guitar, feet/pieds]
These three reels from Québec can be found in Laurie's 2001 book with co-author Greg Sandell, Danse ce soir! Fiddle and Accordion Music of Québec, published by Mel Bay. The source for the first tune is Lucien Mirandette (1924-1993) of St-Cutbert, the uncle of multi-instrumentalist Jean-Claude Mirandette. Fiddler Henri Landry (1923-2001) of Pontbriand learned the second tune from his neighbor, a left-handed fiddler called Thomas "Quêteux" ("the Beggar") Pomerleau. Laurie learned the third tune from the influential fiddler and ethnomusicologist Lisa Ornstein, who had it from the great fiddler Aimé Gagnon (1921-1997). Gagnon lived in St-Louis-de-Lotbinière, near where Paul makes his home.

11. Promenade d'automne (Autumn Promenade), Ebb Tide [guitar, violin]
Paul composed the first hornpipe, and Laurie learned the Ebb Tide from Séamus Egan's first LP.

12. Petit Grégoire (Little Grégoire), Scottish du Stockfish, Ridée à 6 temps [vocal, violin, feet/pieds, guitar]
The first is a song set in the time of the French Revolution, from Théodore Botrel (1868-1925) who moved to Paris from Brittany. The reference to Jean Chouan comes from the Chouans (the Owls), a resistance movement led by Jean "Chouan" Cottereau against the Republicans in Western France starting in 1793. The scottish (schottische) was composed by Belgian hurdy-gurdy player Daniel Thonon, who lives in St-Marc-sur-Richelieu (Québec). Laurie learned the ridée from her friends in the Montréal band Tüq on one of their memorable visits to her house in Ithaca, New York. She plays the medley with her fiddle tuned down to F-C-G-D.

La maman du petit homme lui dit un matin:
« À quinze ans t'es haut tout comme notre huche à pain
À la ville tu peux faire un bon apprenti
Mais pour labourer la terre
T'es ben trop petit mon ami, t'es ben trop petit, dame oui »

Vit un maître d'équipage qui lui rit au nez
En lui disant: « Point n'engage un tout nouveau né
Tu n'as pas l'air de frimousse mais t'es mal bâti
Pour faire un tout petit mousse, t'es ben trop petit ... »

Dans son palais de Versailles fut trouver le roi:
« Je suis gars de Cornouailles, Sire, équipez-moi »
Mais le bon roi Louis XVI en riant lui dit:
« Pour être garde française, t'es ben trop petit ... »

La guerre éclate en Bretagne le printemps suivant
Et Grégoire entre en campagne avec Jean Chouan
Les balles passaient nombreuses au-dessus de lui
Et sifflotant dédaigneuses: « T'es ben trop petit ... »

Cependant une le frappe entre les deux yeux
Par le trou l'âme s'échappe, Grégoire est aux cieux
Là, Saint Pierre, qu'il dérange, lui dit: « Hors d'ici
Il nous faut un grand archange, t'es ben trop petit ... »

Mais en entendant la chose, Jésus se fâcha
Entrouvrit son manteau rose pour qu'il s'y cacha
Fit entrer ainsi Grégoire dans son paradis
En disant: « Mon ciel de gloire
En vérité, je vous l'dis c'est pour les petits, dame oui »

The mother of the short man says to him one morning, "At age fifteen you are as tall as our bread box. In the city you can become a good apprentice, but to work the soil, you are really too small, my friend, oh yes." There's a crew master who laughs in his face, saying to him: "No point in hiring a newborn. You don't have a baby face but you are badly built. To be a little cabin boy, you are really too small". At the palace in Versailles he finds the King: "I'm a lad from Cournouailles, Sire, fit me out." But the good King Louis XVI laughingly says to him, "To be a French guardsman, you are really too small." War breaks out in Brittany the next spring, and Grégoire goes on campaign with Jean Chouan. Many bullets pass right over him, whistling scornfully, "you are really too small." However one does hit him between the eyes. Out of the hole the soul escapes; Grégoire is in Heaven. There St. Peter, whom he bothers, says to him, "Get out of here. We need a tall archangel. You are really too small." But hearing this, Jesus becomes angry. Half-opening His pink robe to hide him, thus He brought Grégoire into His paradise, saying, "My glorious Heaven, in truth I tell you, it is for the small."

13. Tjønneblomen (Water Lily) [Hardanger fiddle, guitar]
Gjermund Haugen (1914-1976) of Telemark, Norway composed this waltz. Haugen was one of the first Hardanger fiddlers to play in a church in Norway. Before the middle of the last century, fiddling (and the dancing and drinking associated with it) was frowned upon by the religious authorities as a sinful activity, much as it was in Québec during the same era. Haugen wrote a poem to accompany this tune:
In thought we must be in the forest by a pond
where the white pure lilies nod in small wavelets
and open up toward the heavens

14. College Groves, Boil the Breakfast Early, Hunter's Purse [violin, guitar, feet/pieds]
Laurie learned the first of these three Irish reels from an early Kevin Burke LP. Paul adds a funk groove on the guitar and the driving foot-tapping of Québec.

15. Marsch i säng (March to Bed) [nyckelharpas, vocal, guitar]
We wish the cobbler and his belle sweet dreams with this wedding march composed by Jonas Ohlsson of Sweden, so titled because the eager couple he wrote it for marched double-time down the aisle on their wedding day.

Total: 60 minutes

All tunes are traditional unless otherwise noted.

Thanks to André, Mark, Will, Camille, Suzanne, Barb; Monique Lebossé, Dave Nutter, Denis Fréchette, Deborah & David Osherow. Thanks also to Donald Deschêne et Maurice Pouliot for their information about the songs.