Based in Quebec, Le Vent du Nord (The Wind of the North) are a four-member group specializing in the traditional French-Canadian folk that locals refer to as Quebecois music (or la musique québécoise in French). The accordion, the violin, the mandolin, and the hurdy-gurdy (an instrument that goes back to medieval times and is known as the vielle à roue in French) are prominent ingredients of their sound, which draws on influences ranging from French medieval music to British folk to the Celtic music of Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany. The Celtic influence in Le Vent du Nord's work is quite strong -- they have no problem playing jigs and reels -- but unlike traditional Celtic artists from Ireland and Scotland, they sing in French. All four members of the group contribute to the vocals, and all four of them play instruments in addition to singing.
Le Vent du Nord were formed in 2002, when Nicolas Boulerice (hurdy-gurdy, acoustic piano) met Olivier Demers (a violin, fiddle and mandolin player who has played with the famous Cirque du Soleil) were both attending a music school in Quebec. A fire alarm that went off at the school forced Boulerice and Demers out of their practice rooms, and Demers ran outside with his fiddle in his hand; Boulerice saw Demers holding the fiddle and asked him if he knew any old Quebecois songs. Boulerice quickly realized that Demers was a major expert on classic Quebecois music, and it didn't take the two of them long to start performing together. Le Vent du Nord officially became a group when Boulerice and Demers joined forces with Réjean Brunet (acoustic bass, accordion, piano) and Simon Beaudry (guitar). Before joining Le Vent du Nord, Brunet had recorded with his brother André Brunet (known for his work with the influential Quebecois group La Bottine Souriante) as half of the duo Les Frères Brunet (The Brunet Brothers). Le Vent du Nord's debut album, Maudite Moisson, was released by the Toronto-based Borealis Recordings in 2003, and their second album, Les Amants du Saint-Laurent, was recorded for Borealis the following year. Borealis released Le Vent du Nord's third album, Dans les Airs, in 2007. ~ Alex Henderson