Monday, April 16, 2007


Chant*Songe was an ephemeral "cultural little place" singer-songwriter Richard Lahmy opened up for a year here in 2001. More a performance space than a viable cafe -- I don't think the place ever turned a profit -- it became the scene of many a local offering from this hotbed of artistic talent that is Montreal's Mile End area. I performed quite a number of times there, and since I lived just up the street, became a frequent habitué.

There was almost constant jamming as well as advertised shows and poetry readings (well, the occasional poetry reading) at least 3 or 4 times a week in this former butchershop -turned bistro. The atmosphere could be bummed-out grungy, easy-going/relaxed, or at times, absolutely magical. All that time, Lahmy and his family videotaped what went on, for eventual broadcast (or narrowcast) on the internet.

This hour-long video, posted six years later, is the result.

You can see a brief clip of me at exactly 2 minutes into the video, playing one of my joke songs, "The Oreo Double-Stuf Cookies Song".

Other local notables include:

Abdulai Kone, an extraordinary singer/guitarist/percussionist from Senegal, who performs long hypnotic pieces right out of the Griot tradition. You can see him at 5:28, 15:09, 22:30 (there along with Nathalie Cora on the Cora.... she now performs at Depanneur Cafe, where I do) and on percussion at around 30:00, with others in an informal jam.
Daniel Wilson (whatever became of him?), a crazy idiot-savant (but at times truly brilliant) electric guitarist I played with briefly, interviewed with a bit of music afterwards 6:47
Mark Pinkus, pianist (I'm quite sure that's him) 9:45
A very nice acoustic guitar duo of a couple of guys I forget the names of, but saw a few times 11:25
Benoit Bolduc 16:24 (in a show I organized... we shared a bill last night.)
Jahan Shah on tambourine (I also played with him, indeed formed a band with him and pianist Al Gordon that lasted many practice sessions and a couple of shows... only a tiny, not-too-indicative sample of his extraordinary rhythmic gifts are seen here) with an Iranian singer 20:19
Paul Sarrasin 34:33 (we also shared the same bill last night)
Normand Dumont 35:26
Evelyn Schubert 37:00
Then from about 41:00 to 50:00, a series of glimpses at a number of poets and raconteurs: Stan Asher, a local story teller, Le Cercle des Poetes Immanents (Circle of Imminant poets); Nathalie Lachance; Stuart Stilitz; Philip Amsel; Doug Winspear, Hugh Hazelton.

Richard Lahmy is the gentle, bearded man you see playing guitar with his young son in his lap right after the opening scene in the video. He reppears intermittently throughout the video, playing songs, jamming with others.

There are plenty of other people I don't know. In any case, it's a valuable if somewhat mishmashy document of this fleeting efflorescence of Montreal's musical underground. Lots of memories here, fond, joyful, beautiful, and, yes, sad.

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