Xenophobia Month in Quebec 3 - le Finale

...so how could it get any better in la belle province? how do you come up with an exciting finish to a month of such an incredibly stupid series of events and decisions?

... there was one more variation on the theme of nationalism yet to come - one that would make it loud and clear just how provincial the party apparatchiks of the "nation" of Quebec really are...

fittingly, the grand finale of Xenophobia Month would be a cultural event.


This is a picture of a music group called Arcade Fire and this is the opening of the Wikipedia entry on them:

> Arcade Fire is an indie rock band based in Montreal, Quebec. It consists of the husband and wife duo of Win ButlerRégine Chassagne, along with Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Jeremy Gara, and Sarah Neufeld. Arcade Fire came to prominence when they released their debut album Funeral in 2004 to critical acclaim. The band plays guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard, French horn, accordion, harp, mandolin, and hurdy-gurdy. Most of their instruments are taken on tour, and the multi-instrumentalist band members switch duties throughout shows.<

They are a great band, and they have worked hard over the last 6 years to become one of the finest musical groups currently working the planet over the last 6 years.

They have made 3 albums, one of the most interesting, interactive rock videos ever made and created legendary live performances.

This year, they won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. They have also won this year's Brit Award (sort of an English Grammy) for Best International Album.  They sit on the band's metaphorical mantel alongside a 2008 Meteor Music Award (sort of an Irish) for Best International Album and a 2008 Juno (Canadian) for Alternative Album of the Year.

As "hot" goes in music these days, they are it. Not just hot for "Canadian". Not just hot for "Montreal". We're talking trans-national, inter-continentally hot.

They are also proud Montrealers.

When they won the Grammy, which this year was watched by more than 25 million people, singer Win Butler, originally from Texas, started his thanks speech en anglais, but then added a "Merci to Montreal, Quebec for taking us and giving us a home....".

Band-mate Régine Chassagne (Butler's wife), a franco Montrealer, added: "Merci Montréal. Merci à tout le monde au Québec."

How cool is that?


Be that as it may, within days of their trans-Atlantic awards, the chief organizer of "la Fete Nationale" announced that the band would be welcome to play the event, "as long as they conform to certain guidelines"... which in this case is bureaucrat-speak for "perform entirely in French".

It was not a new ruling or anything. Last year, the master of ceremonies of the Montreal Fete Nationale concert, talk-show host and actor Guy A. Lepage made clear that anglophone artists could only be part of the concert if they sang in French.

Zut alors!


"la Fete Nationale" is a Quebec government-sponsored holiday soiree, held in June each year since 1978 to celebrate Quebec-ness.

It's a replacement for
St. John the Baptist Day, which had been previously celebrated in Quebec since June, 1636.


Twenty-four hours after the czar culturelle de la Fete had made the pronouncement about Arcade Fire, Quebec's culture minister announced she has no problem if an Anglo band — such as Grammy-winning Arcade Fire — ever wanted to sing in English at the Fete nationale.

Voila! un fait accompli!

Alas, the word is that the band already has a gig that night somewhere else.

C'est dommage.


As it happens, also, despite all of the other awards the Arcade Fire has never won a Felix award for anything over the past 6 six years.

But as coincidence would have it, a spokeswoman for the Quebec music industry association ADISQ said recent rule changes mean Arcade Fire's latest Grammy-winning album would be eligible for a Felix at the next awards show in October - in the category of best anglophone album.

They would not be eligible for the award for best rock album - only musicians who perform in French are eligible for that.

But I think that maybe if the band was willing to change it's name to le Feu d'Arcade...


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