Back in February, Montreal folk-rock artist Tire le Coyote inaugurated the Acoustic Sessions (aka Salons Acoustiques) concert series at Théâtre la Chapelle, taking the stage with various guests for three nights, stripped of all mics, all speakers, all amplification.
“He said yes, with pleasure,” recounts la Chapelle director Olivier Bertrand of the moment when Benoît Pinette (Tire le Coyote) accepted the invitation to perform, “but when it was close to the date (of the concert), he was a little bit afraid. But he did it and he was impressed, as a musician, to discover this configuration, to experiment like that with an audience.”
Tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 11, Acoustic Sessions returns with six artists instead of one: Jesse Mac Cormack and Rosie Valland perform tonight (the show is sold out), Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and Alexei Perry Cox play on Friday, Dec. 12 and Brad Barr and Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell close it out on Saturday, Dec. 13.
“The idea is to give the opportunity to the audience and the musicians to listen to music without any mics and speakers, to feel the sound source — you can feel the difference,” says Bertrand. “With speakers, you can’t feel that because it’s always the same source. Everything you hear during a live concert — the voice, the instruments — it always comes from the same source.”
This Acoustic Sessions series features local artists who play folk, art-rock, indie rock, alt-pop, experimental soundscapes and a capella/spoken word. In future editions, Bertrand hopes to program the line-up with acts who are further afield genre-wise (“I’m in contact with some electronic musicians who are very enthusiastic about this project but they definitely need to think about it — with electronic music it’s more of a challenge”) as well as extend the event to also offer multi-night residencies to artists.
Part of the appeal of Acoustic Sessions, for both the audience and the musicians, is la Chapelle itself: a theatre space that was not designed for live music.
“I think it’s important to try this concept here because it’s different,” Bertrand explains. “Like a lot of people I love Sala Rossa, and they experiment with a lot of things, too, but there is a bar in the venue. Several musicians have told me they want to play in a place without a bar. Of course you can buy a beer at la Chapelle, too, but it’s not the same thing. To be standing at the bar and listening to music and to be in a seat, you don’t listen the same way.” ■
Acoustic Sessions is happening at la Chapelle (3700 St-Dominique) on Dec. 11 (sold out), 13 and 14, 8 p.m. nightly, $23.50/$18.50