Josée Vachon and Donna Hébert have embodied traditional and original Franco-American fiddle and song all their lives. Twenty years ago, they met and became musical partners, forming Chanterelle with former guitarist Liza Constable and bassist Alan Bradbury. Alan returns with Josée, Donna and her guitarist, Max Cohen, for a performance at the Nelson Town Hall on Sunday March 9 at 7:00 PM. Admission is $15/$12(Sr/Jr).
Josée’s unabashed ‘joie de vivre’ is infectious. Born in Lac Megantic and raised over the border in Brownville ME, singer-songwriter Vachon is beloved of Franco audiences, who regularly sing along in French. Her long stint hosting “Bonjour” on cable in the Northeast brought her to many Franco-American homes, and she has continued to record and tour. A recipient of awards from the keys to the city of Woonsocket, to a spot on NEA traditional touring rosters like “The Women’s Singing Traditions,” Josée is an icon within the Franco-American culture.
Western MA fiddler Donna Hébert, named an Artist Fellow in Franco-American fiddling by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, was recognized by Governor Deval Patrick in 2009 for “outstanding artistic achievement.” A fiddle instructor at Smith and Amherst Colleges, Donna performs in a fiddle/guitar duo with Max Cohen (who joins them on this tour), Celtic trio Mist Covered Mountains with Max and her daughter, Molly Hebert-Wilson, and the new Panache Quartet with fiddlers Andrea Beaton, Veronique Plasse and Jane Rothfield.
Alan Bradbury’s Cajun group, Magnolia, are the mainstay of the region’s Cajun music and dance scene. Check out their Providence area dances. Alan’s bass, accordion and vocals just make Donna and Josée so happy that it’s always a homecoming to play Chanterelle gigs with him. Donna’s played dances with Alan since the early 1980s, so she snared him early on for Chanterelle.
Max Cohen is one of the best kept secrets in the guitar world, the true musician’s musician (producer, engineer, arranger), the ‘masked man’ of accompaniment who makes the singers realize the song’s potential. Max also accompanies folksinger Priscilla Herdman, who says, “Max is one of those rare guitarists able to create an atmosphere that supports and cradles the voice with both tenderness and strength.” Donna adds that he “rocks like crazy.”