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Blues Women United in les Femmes En Blues

Blues Women United
Isabelle Archambault

On any given evening, Montreal is replete with events, happenings, and things to do.

Immersed in Arts and Culture, our streets and the evening air are filled with the sounds of summer, and the smells of our neighbourhood eateries and delicacies.

On A given evening you get the chance to share in something truly exquisite and memorable that strikes a heartstring, and creates a new standard by which to judge others, and that is a wondrous thing.

This past Saturday, was one such event. In what I call what of Montreal’s “Juke-Joints”, Ile-Perrot’s highway-side restaurant Smoke Meat Pete’s hosted the multi-talented (now travelling) musical review of “Femmes En Blues” (ie. Blues-Women or Women in Blues or Women of Blues).

This revue and grouping consist of some of Quebec’s best teamed female vocal forces that share as much a mutual love for the music they sing together, as the bond and admiration that they hold for each other.

Isabelle Archambault of Zazoo Rock & Blues & Lys Blues nominee for best blues and associated styles album.

Ria Reece of The Ria Reece Band, and Lys Blues nominee for best blues and associated styles album.

Josee Brault of Soul Fusion.

Ysabel Gagnon of Mama Groove & Lys Blues winner for Best New Group

Nancy Desmarais of Triple Threat & Lys Blues winner for Cabaret

Sylvia Harris

All renowned and respected vocalists, unique in their backgrounds and styles, have united in this Blues venture dedicated to the power of Women in blues music, and bringing awareness and enjoyment to those that perhaps have not been introduce to them or the music they present. To those that do know the classics sung, it give a whole new presentation to the camaraderie of 5 non-divas on stage.

Usually backed by and all-female House band, which for this evening consisted of: Sandra Boyer on drums, Melo Mainville on bass, and Gypsy Kate on lead guitar and backing vocals. This night had a surprise guest of Mr. George Papafilys rounding out the musical backbone sitting in on rhythm and lead guitar.

A positive evening on the whole, the packed restaurant at Smoke Meat Pete’s was filled to capacity with music lovers that came to be entertained, and assuredly were. For two full sets, people were elevated from feet to ears, and from ears to feet. From listening from their seats to eventually being cajoled to dancing and enjoying the musically charged air.

Each singer is worthy of a separate review for their performance of the evening, but much to say that they all are worthy of the price of admission on any given night, let alone the grouped venture of this night (which by the way, was supported by Smoke Meat Pete’s as one of his many Free evenings).

From standards to not-so standards, each song was interpreted in true Blues fashion: Heavy on music, vocals, and beat and light on gimmicks and imagery.

Basic, down-home music; tight, emotional, and fun.

Even though this event has been downsized to fit venues of a smaller scale, compared to previous versions at Montreal’s Rialto, and Bistro a Jojo, the stage was no less talent filled, as all those in presence evidenced.

A dream project of Isabelle Archambault, of reuniting Quebec singers in song and representing the loved traditional and non-traditional Blues which has come to the forefront of Montreal bars and clubs, and has grown from an a single event, to an annual event, to now a travelling revue.

The spoiler alerts are off, purposely not giving you setlists or songs, not because of ability, but because you have to go hear them. That is the Show, that is the pleasure, and that is the chance to share in the event.

If ever you have a chance to hear or see the local talent of Femmes En Blues, really make the extra effort to do so, you truly will be thankful.