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Music PEI Canadian Songwriter Challenge

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Le Fricot

Review by Michelle René Sexton

Le Fricot anyone? Tucked away in Abrams Village, on a cool summer evening, at the Expo Centre, set on a dark black stage you will find Le Fricot. Does the idea of fricot make your mouth water? Are you hungry? This fricot isn’t the traditional Acadian dish of chicken, onions, potatoes, and carrots. I’m speaking a lively, sometimes comical band made up of six members: Louise Arsenault, Daniel Grouin, Julie Arsenault, Caroline Bernard, and Wayne Robichaud.

Guests settled at large round tables with candlelight illuminating the room and the introduction began. I was in the front row and at first not clear what kind of evening I was in for. A man dressed in a brown trench coat walked out to the audience and in a Twilight Zone voice (in English) introduced Acadian living. On stage the other band members held a picture frame around their heads, and the comedy began.

I didn’t need to speak French to understand what the music was about. A mixture of hand clapping, toe stomping and upbeat music started the show. As with any concert, the audience was game to join in, and we all had a great time. A few slow ballads slipped in and one in particular caught my attention. Loosely translated, its title means “Never Again the Ocean,” a ballad about fishermen losing their boats and livelihoods to the sea. Caroline sang the song with such emotion that I could feel their sorrow.

Louise gave a charged fiddle solo that was not only phenomenal, but had the audience join in with a few “whoo hoos.” She played the fiddle as if her hands were on fire, then sat down on a wooden chair. While not missing a beat with her fiddle, her shoes tapped on the stage, and the audience gave her a standing ovation when she’d finished.

Between the music selections the band would toss in a comical routine or two. Louise sang a French 1950s song about cheating on her boyfriend. She even wore 1950s garb—poodle skirt, bobby socks, penny loafers, and hair in a ponytail. A rubber chicken being literally thrown into the act brought more laughs.

I thoroughly enjoyed the music, and when I asked how the group got together, the simple yet funny answer by Wayne was he was asked to do Le Fricot and agreed as long as he could pick who he wanted to make up the troupe. While the rest of the band put instruments away, Wayne and I sat down and laughed because each question I asked was replied with a comical answer. “We had a limited time to learn songs,” smiled Wayne. “We did pick and choose songs, and basically had since June to learn all of them.”

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