FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2012
Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Cultural Resources
N.H. North Country musicians to perform at D.C. concert series
North Country traditional musicians Patrick Ross and Jean Theroux, performing as “Les Bon Hommes du Nord,” have been selected to represent New Hampshire at the Library of Congress’ Homegrown summer concert series in Washington, D.C. Their concert, featuring traditional French-Canadian fiddle music, takes place August 8, 2012 from noon – 1 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Coolidge Auditorium.
“Les Bon Hommes du Nord” – or “Good Men of the North” – is one of nine concerts this summer featuring the very best of traditional music and dance that is thriving in the United States. The Library of Congress features music from each state on a rotating basis every few years.
As part of a cooperative agreement between the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center, “Les Bon Hommes du Nord” will perform from 6 – 7 p.m. that same day at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium stage.
Both concerts are free and open to the public.
Headlined by Ross and Theroux, “Les Bon Hommes du Nord” also includes Dalton Binette and Bow Thayer. All four hail from small towns in New Hampshire’s North Country. Together, they will present a program of fiddle tunes and songs drawn from their French-Canadian heritage, an important aspect of New Hampshire’s cultural landscape. Fiddle, accordion and guitar are the most common instruments used in this tradition. The playing style is spirited and based upon the rhythmic patterns of jigs, reels and waltzes.
Patrick Ross, a frequent winner at fiddle contests throughout Northern New England, is a fifth-generation musician. He received his first fiddle at age three and began playing with his father at traditional house parties in Northern Vermont and New Hampshire. After high school, he explored a variety of musical avenues in other parts of the country, spending time in Nashville where he met and played for world-renowned musicians including Willie Nelson, Bela Fleck and Sheryl Crow. After living for a short time in Los Angeles and the suburbs of London, he returned to New Hampshire and his traditional musical roots, researching and recording the music of older French-Canadian fiddlers. He also teaches music and plays in a variety of bands.
Jean Nil Theroux, Ross’ stepfather, learned to play the fiddle in logging camps of Northern New England as a young man, which adds a unique cultural perspective to his craft.
Ross and Binette received a 2011 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts to preserve French-Canadian fiddling. The grant program helps insure that traditions are passed on from master to apprentice in one-to-one sessions.
In addition its performances, the Homegrown concert series is also an important acquisitions project for the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. The Library of Congress has been documenting traditional music by staging and recording performances since the 1930s. This has resulted in a great number of high-quality recordings in the American Folklife Center archive. “Les Bon Hommes du Nord,” along with the rest of the Homegrown concerts, will be documented and become part of the permanent collections of the Library of Congress for future generations to enjoy and study.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for residents of and visitors to our nation’s capitol to experience authentic and masterful examples of traditional music from New Hampshire and for some of our musicians to share their heritage with a wider audience,” said Lynn Martin Graton, N.H. State Council on the Arts’ acting director and traditional arts coordinator. “We are grateful that the Library of Congress maintains its commitment to showcasing and documenting our country’s many traditions.”
For more information about the American Folklife Center, including the Homegrown concert series, visit http://www.loc.gov/folklife/. For educational resources and other information about folklife traditions in New Hampshire, visit http://www.nh.gov/folklife.
The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is a division of the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources. It began in 1965 with legislation designed “to insure that the role of the arts in the life of our communities will continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the education and welfare of our citizens.” Funding for programs is provided through state appropriations, a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Conservation License Plate fund. Learn more about the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts at www.nh.gov/nharts.