Traditional music without borders
Fásta are a trio of musiciens sans frontières who refuse to let the Atlantic sunder their love of their own and one another’s Irish and Québecois musical traditions.
Connemara piper Fiachra O’Regan and Québecois fiddler and pianist, Sophie Lavoie, return two years after their last fine collection, Rewind.
Now accompanied by André Marchand on guitar and foot percussion.
Lavoie’s contributions have grown in stature: her tune compositions are lithe and masterful, and her choice of songs is enough to captivate the most casual listener.
Most strikingly, the title tune, Un Canadien Errant bridges the gap between the Canadian rebellion of 1837-38 and today’s horrors of exile, as experienced by refugees and migrants.
It’s refreshing to hear a traditional band reference the present with such subtlety and finesse.
Siobhan Long, The Irish Times, 25/08/ 2016 see source
Le trio trad Fásta (un mot gaélique qu’on peut traduire par « mature ») brille autant par l’intensité de son élan musical que par le raffinement de ses arrangements et de ses interprétations. Inspiré par les traditions québécoise et irlandaise, qu’il fusionne en préservant leurs spécificités, Fásta fait dans le trad de qualité supérieure. Au violon, au piano, à la voix et à la composition, Sophie Lavoie, originaire du Lac-Saint-Jean, mène la charge avec brio, entourée de son conjoint, l’Irlandais Fiachra O’Regan, maître de la cornemuse irlandaise et du banjo, et du légendaire André Marchand, qui caresse la guitare avec une grâce divine. Sur ce deuxième disque de la formation, chansons, valses et reels québécois et irlandais s’enchaînent sans temps mort et avec fluidité, offrant une expérience musicale saisissante, qui atteint son paroxysme avec une version magnifique et déchirante d’Un Canadien errant, la célèbre complainte d’Antoine Gérin-Lajoie.
Louis Cornellier, La Devoir, 15/01/2016
Fásta reprend la chanson Un Canadien errant
Le lancement officiel, présenté par Michel Faubert, aura lieu le 8 janvier 2016 entre 18h et 20h, au CRAPO de Saint-Jean-de-Matha.
Le groupe Fásta, c’est la rencontre rafraîchissante et attachante entre un pilier de la musique traditionnelle au Québec, une jeune violoneuse du Lac-Saint-Jean et un Irlandais multi-instrumentiste qui ont fait de leur nouveau port d’attache la municipalité de Saint-Justin.
Les trois membres du groupe, André Marchand, Sophie Lavoie et Fiachra O’Regan réunissent sur l’album Un Canadien errant des chansons en français et en gaélique, des morceaux traditionnels irlandais et québécois, et des compositions de Sophie.
La célèbre chanson Un Canadien errant, dont plusieurs se rappeleront les versions chantées par Nana Mouskouri et Leonard Cohen, est adaptée pour la première fois au style traditionnel par Sophie Lavoie. L’arrangement de la chanson est typiquement à la Fásta. Un Canadien errant est enchaînée avec le 6/8 “Le souvenir”, une gigue pleine d’émotions, que Sophie a composée pour terminer la chanson.
Lors du lancement de l’album le 8 janvier prochain, André, Sophie et Fiachra seront accompagnés par Daniel Roy et sa bombarde, ainsi que Michel Faubert qui lancera officiellement l’album. (P.O.G)
L’Écho de Maskinongé see source
“When I go to hear Sophie and Fiachra playing together live, I sometimes allow myself to wonder which came first for these two musicians – love or the music? Hearing them play, that question slips aaa, and the two – love and music – are inextricably bound. In this collection of Irish, French-Canadian and original pieces, the ease and eloquence with which they play together is crystal clear, and sits perfectly into the sensitive accompaniments by Michael McCague and Jimmy Higgins. If you like your music straight-up, no frills and honestly performed, then you will love this new collection from these two fine musicians.”
Bill Whelan (Riverdance)
They set out their stall on the two opening tracks; Páidín Ó Raifeartaigh from Connemara and then Le Petit Soldat De Bois. Both songs are beautifully sung in their different styles and bring a wish that more than four of the eleven tracks were songs. The very talented trio demonstrate the differences – often they are subtle, just calling for slight differences in emphasis – between the traditional song and music of the west of Ireland and northern Quebec.
Previous to Fásta coming together there was a 2010 eponymous album from two of them; Sophie Lavoie playing fiddle and Fiachra O’Regan on uillean pipes. Pleasing though that album was, this offering is better in almost every way. There is more definition and clarity in both the playing and in the recording quality. Then there is also more variety in the programming; Fiachra alternates his excellent piping with banjo playing and, of course, there are the songs. Another bonus is the contribution of the third member. Michael McCague plays pleasing, adventurous but unobtrusive accompaniments on bouzouki and guitar. There is a suggestion in the notes that Fiachra is something of a reluctant singer and that a certain amount of arm-twisting on Sophie’s part was needed to obtain the one song that he sings here. Carry on twisting Sophie! He makes a fine job as a singer. Her own singing sparkles on each of her contributions. A major influence on the way the modern tradition has developed in Quebec has been the 1930s recording of Mary Bolduc, La Bolduc and there is much of her vivacious approach in Sophie’s singing. Elsewhere it is tight instrumental playing. Both traditions have reels at their core and it is interesting to see the different approaches needed here by, let’s say Reel Des Habitants / Reel Du Vieux Moulin and the Donegal Reels.
Vic Smith, fRoots, 14/11/2014
The Title, Rewind, could be a hint that to fully appreciate this album’s strengths you’ll need to head back to the beginning after the first listen and start all over again. That’s because the music, while accomplished, is subtle in its charms. But more likely the name hints at the bands raison d’être – to trace the connections between Irish and French-Canadian music. Co-led by Irish uilleann piper (and solid banjo player) Fiachra O’regan and Québec fiddler Sophie Lavoie, Fásta also feature guitar from Michael McCague and understated drumming from Jimmy Higgins. Most impressive is O’Regan’s stellar piping, so it seems and odd choice to open with a track (‘Páidín Ó Raifeartaigh’) featuring O’Regan as a singer rather than piper. Lavoie’s singing, on the other hand, has an almost childlike sweetness, with considerable appeal. Perhaps we’ll hear more of it on Fásta’s next recording. This debut will satisfy those who love both Irish and French-Canadian tunes, played well and from the heart.
Li Robbins, Songlines, Oct 2014
Québécois music has regularly found good company among Irish musicians, alive to its Celtic history and traditions. Fásta are a trio who mine this musical seam with equal parts inventiveness and curiosity. Rewind is rooted in the pipes of Fiachra O’Regan and the fiddle, voice and foot percussion of Québécois fiddler Sophie Lavoie, with subtle muscle added in the form of Michael McCague’s guitar/bouzouki. The great strengths of this collection lie in Lavoie’s forensic research of her own music, along with her fine tune compositions. Unforced and informal, her vocals flit lightly across the delightful Mon Père a Fait Bâtir Maison, paired beautifully with her own Reel du Lac St-Jean. Guest percussionist Jimmy Higgins renders the whole collection all the richer with his subtle contributions. O’Regan’s vocals are the only weak link in this otherwise invigorating debut.
Siobhán Long, The Irish Times, 29/08/2014 see source
Sophie Lavoie is a fiddler from Québec, Fiachra O‘Regan is an uilleann piper and whistler from Connemara in the west of Ireland. The idea is quite simple: blend the music of their respective homeland and see what comes out. The difference is not too huge anyway. When the French colonised Quebec in the 17th century, there were already Irish present, and later in the 19th century famine emigrants flocked in thousands. Music knows no borders, and Sophie & Fiachra know how to enjoy themselves with some lively music. Their respective styles fit to each other like a glove and almost needed no adjustments.
Ten tracks, featuring 16 tunes, let’s take a glimpse. The tunes are traditional with the exception of Maurice Lennon’s “Road to Garrison”. With the Quebec tunes I’m not very familiar with. There is the “Reel du Lac-St-Jean” which takes its name from the lake where Sophie comes from. “J’ai fait une maitresse” and “Isabeau s’y Promene” are airs of traditional Quebecoise songs. Then there are popular Irish tunes such as the reel “Down the Broom” or the “Hag with the Money” jig. “Amhran Na Tra Baine” is a slow air, originally a Gaelic song, which is not very often recorded. These two traditions are not exclusive: the Irish “Tripping Up The Stairs,” played from Cape Clear to Orkney, and the Quebecoise “Gigue des Capuchons” have one part almost in common with each other. So look out – if this record makes its round there might be a three-part version played very soon in your local session!
FolkWorld.de Music Web-zine (Germany) see source
With Standing room only, Sophie Lavoie, from Lac-St-Jean Québec and Fiachra O’Regan from Connemara, on the West coast of Ireland started their Australasian tour with foot-tapping, energetic, pulsating music combining fiddle, concertina, uilleann pipes and whistle in a potpourri of Irish traditional with a hint of French traditional.
The overwhelming joy for their music was intoxicating. What a shame some rude and inconsiderate patrons who were standing at the back of the room spoiled the atmosphere with their incessant talk.
Bay Chronicle, New-Zealand, 26/05/2011