Chansons de la campagne is a collection of recordings from the late Ethel Mae Bourque, friend and mentor to Lost Bayou Ramblers’ founder Louis Michot. The record arrives 4 October on streaming services, download and CD via Nouveau Electric Records.
The performances date to 2003 and feature Bourque’s renditions of Louisiana French classics that tell her story of life in Louisiana, the manners in which she amused herself, living without a television, and knowing the power of both music and storytelling.
“One of my most vivid memories as a child,” recalls Michot, “was following Sidney Bourque around his farm, him explaining his homemade ways to feed his chickens, geese, pigs all in Cajun French: a truck tire watering basin and clothes dryer feeding trough. At least I thought that’s what he was saying — I didn’t speak any French at the time, and Sidney didn’t speak any English. He brought me inside the kitchen, where Mrs. Ozite Bourque was frying up beignets in pure lard. They used everything and grew, raised, and hunted all of their food. I felt lucky to have seen such a lifestyle still being practiced in the 1980s.”
Chansons de la campagne is as a remarkable portrait of a woman whose talents and sense of history remain central to the music and people of Louisiana. It’s a historical artifact that is as poignant as it is entertaining.