Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ville Émard Blues Band

Ville Émard Blues Band (VEBB) was a musicians' collective formed in 1972 by bassist Bill Gagnon, who ran a recording studio in Montreal's Ville Émard district. This collection of session musicians and members of other groups (including, but not limited to, Toubabou, Harmonium and Robert Charlesbois' band) gained its first exposure as a separate act the following year, when Claude Dubois needed a backup band for his television show "Décibel". That summer VEBB began playing some concerts, and quickly gained a reputation as an exciting live act that often included up to 20 musicians on stage at once (ah, the '70's). After releasing a live "official bootleg" album (Minute! Ville Émard Blues Band s'en vient) that sold thousands of copies after it was played in its entirety on CHOM, Montreal's English radio station, London/Decca distributed two follow-up albums on the band's own Funkébec label, Live á Montreal (recorded at Théâtre St-Denis) and a studio LP, Ville Émard. Both records did pretty well, and the second album, released in 1975, garnered the group a Juno nomination for Most Promising Group of the Year (they lost to Rush), but following a 30-show tour of Quebec and appearances in New Brunswick and Toronto, the group disbanded (although members of the band did get back together for a 30th anniversary reunion gig in 2004).



Ville Émard Blues Band were famed for their eclectic musical palate, which mixed bits of rock, funk, prog, folk, jazz and world beat into a stew somewhat reminicent of Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis. The two songs I'm posting here are both on Live á Montreal (although, to be honest, I found them on a budget "as seen on TV!"-style compilation entitled Les meilleurs groups de notre epoque). "Ville Émard Blues" is a bluesy jam centered around a funky bass riff, while "Ste-Melanie Blues" is a folkier, melancholic number originally done by Contraction, members of which (including lead singer Christiane Robichaud, heard here) also belonged to VEBB.

Ville Émard Blues
Ste-Melanie Blues

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