No matter how many artists continue to be added to our playlists, for those that truly stand out from the pack, I can often recall the first of their songs heard and from when. “You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too)” was likely the song that introduced me to the self-proclaimed folk-trash music of bilingual New Brunswick rocker Lisa LeBlanc – dating back to her impressionable 2014 “Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted” EP – which very quickly made its way into our album collection.
Following up with her 2016 genre-defying banjo-fueled (and predominantly English language) “Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen?” album – one of the first albums featured during the early days of GDW – Lisa LeBlanc quickly became a household name across Canada. With her affinity for a unique fusion of Acadian-English folk-punk music, Lisa’s popularity led to extensive touring, before the global reset as the pandemic arrived. Bursting back into the spotlight, Lisa offered up one of the biggest surprises in 2022 with the release of “Chiac Disco,” an explosive French language homage to disco music, complete with era appropriate bells and whistles. Platform boots were optional.
Making many year-end honors list with this album (ours included) for its originality and interesting take on a previously undiscovered genre for this artist, Lisa commenced a small Canadian tour this past October, followed by a respectable 11-stop tour across Europe last month. Returning home for a momentary pause, Lisa and her band hit the US northeast recently for a handful of dates – with a visit to Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA being part of that itinerary, and to which our tickets were purchased within seconds of going on sale.
As the lights dimmed, Lisa’s band made their way onto the Jammin’ Java stage – Sunny Duval (guitars/vocals), Camille Gélinas (keyboards/vocals), Benoît Morier (bass/vocals), and Maxime Gosselin (drums) – Benoît (JUNO Award winning producer – and co-producer of “Chiac Disco”) would address the room: “All the way from Rosaireville, New Brunswick, please welcome to the stage, the queen of Chiac Disco, Lisa LeBlanc…” Heads would turn to seek out the vocalist as “Dans l’jus” commenced, discovering Lisa circulating on the floor amongst the crowd, remote microphone in hand, and taking her place on stage as the song progressed into the chorus.
“Bonsoir, alright, are you ready to hear some French disco,” Lisa (guitar/banjo/vocals) would ask the raucous crowd at the close of the song. “Hello, Vienna. How is everyone tonight? I have so many questions. How are you here? This is incredible!” Pausing as a cry of “we love you” was sent in her direction from the back of the room, Lisa continued. “I wasn’t actually phishing for compliments, although it does kind of look like it was. But I’m genuinely curious. This is amazing. We’ve never been here before. We’ve never been in the area whatsoever… This is incredible to see you all here tonight.”
Upon learning that very few in the room were locals, Lisa would receive plenty of feedback in French. “Oh, there’s a bunch of Acadians here, wow. If you’re looking for the French community, they’re all here tonight. I am Acadian myself, not Québécois, it’s another kind of French-Canadian,” she stated. “My accent is called Chiac, and it’s a mix of French, English, and a lot of old French expressions from the 1600s. When we go to Quebec, to Montréal, and when we go to France, no one can understand us. This is going to be a very eclectic show. We just played a bunch of ‘Chiac Disco’ stuff from our album, but before that, there was a lot of folk rock and punk. So, this is going to be a mix between disco, funk, folk rock, metal, punk show.” Nobody in the room offered any complaints.
Switching immediately to a pair of English language tunes, the band transitioned seamlessly to a cut from Lisa’s 2012 debut self-titled album, with Lisa’s immediately recognizable banjo intro to open “Du duvet dans les poches.” Audible requests for “Kraft Dinner” were made from the floor, to which Lisa responded being too soon – and while the popular early hit would not make this particular show, the band did acknowledge the ‘food theme’ with a fabulous performance of “Le menu acadien” from the new album.
Lisa would take time to share the tale behind her inspiration for “Gossip,” another cut from “Chiac Disco.” “It’s a song inspired by my small town of 51 people called Rosaireville in New Brunswick,” she offered. “Is there anybody from a small town here?” Hollers bounced around the room in response. “They know what’s up with the hot goss, it’s crazy when you’re from a small town. Everybody knows everything about everyone, even before something happens,” Lisa continued. “So, this song is inspired by aunties, mostly, and by everything that’s been going on in this small town. This is a good example of chiac, a lot of the Franglish stuff that I was talking about; the rural meets glam thing.”
Strapping on the banjo once more, Lisa whipped the room into a frenzy when asking if we were ready for a banjo hoedown. Rapid licks would commence “Gold Diggin’ Hoedown,” Lisa momentarily slowing things down with “Dead Man’s Flats” (her brief banjo solo) before the band kicked back in to go full-throttle for their cover of “Ace of Spades” – Lisa’s signature version of a Motorhead classic that you can’t fail to appreciate, whether or not metal is your thing. “And don’t forget the joker…”
Closing the set with one final visit to the latest material, the band (sans Lisa) would return to the stage to commence the encore – taking time to introduce themselves whilst adding brief instrumental performances of holiday tunes. Camille’s keys rang out first, filling the room with the familiar rings of Trans-Syberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve / Sarajevo.” Sunny would follow, opting for “The Christmas Song,” and allowing his six-string to melodically sing Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Benoît would accompany Maxime to add chords, allowing “our little drummer boy” to perform an excerpt from “Little Drummer Boy.” Sunny would challenge Benoît to add his own solo piece – stating that aiding Maxime did not count – and to which Benoît would heed requests from the floor before delivering a few bars of “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.”
Having built up the collective anticipation once more for a full blast of music, Lisa returned to the stage, and together the five musicians closed the evening with a return to the “Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen?” material, sending us home with a rousing performance of “Ti-Gars.” This was an outstanding 75-minute set from Lisa LeBlanc, and we left Jammin’ Java knowing that another date with this artist is just around the corner. Lisa performs a few shows in the spring in Quebec and Ontario backed by a full symphony orchestra, and we jumped on tickets for one of those shows long before her short sojourn here to the US was announced. See you in March, Lisa – we eagerly await the surprises I’m sure both you and friend Antoine Gratton (string arrangements) shall bring to Chiac Disco.
- Dans l’jus
- Pourquoi faire aujourd’hui
- City Slickers And Country Boys
- You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too)
- Du duvet dans les poches
- Entre toi pi moi pi la corde de bois
- 5748 KM (solo)
- Race Track
- Gold Diggin’ Hoedown
- Dead Man’s Flats
- Ace Of Spades (Motorhead cover)
- Le menu acadien
- Veux-tu rentrer dans ma bubble?
- *Holiday-Themed Solos* (Band Intro’s)