February isn’t exactly festival season, but a lovely little festival has been taking place in St-Bernard de Michaudville (map) for the past 8 years. This year, Chantez-vous bien chez nous, 9e édition (Come sing with us) promises to offer another great little festival to divert us when cabin fever has us helpless in its mitts. The festival occurs Friday February 24 – to Sunday February 26, 2012.
About an hour and 15 minutes east of Montreal (on the south side of the St Lawrence), this festival consists of a Friday evening concert (7:15PM: La Famille Ayotte, Réveillons!, Vishtèn), a Saturday afternoon open/free jam (1-4PM), a Saturday evening concert (7:30PM: Raz-de-Marée, Bernard Simard, La Giroflée) and a Sunday afternoon dance (1-4PM: Jean-François Berthiaume calling, Réveillons! playing). The cost is reasonable with each evening soirée being $25 per person per night for a 3-act show. The jam session at the local elementary school is free, and the Sunday danse is $10 per person.
The concerts are wild and rowdy, with a constant hum of conversation throughout and beer and snacks served in the back of the hall. Seating exists if you want it, and dancing is encouraged directly in front of the stage. After the show is over, people stick around to chat and start chanson à repond song circles and jam sessions into the wee hours. For those on a budget, overnight accommodations are available on the elementary school gymnasium floor (AKA, le dortoir or dormitory), free of charge, and a 5 minute walk away from the performance venue. You need to remove your sleeping belongings by 10AM each morning to accommodate the jam session. There are washrooms, but no shower available at the elementary school.
I recommend Chantez-vous bien chez nous as an opportunity to hear some great music, meet great people, learn and play some great tunes and loosen the grip that winter has on us.