LEWISTON — Lively Franco-American music, "La Danse Des Canards," storytelling, children's entertainment — and, of course, crepes for breakfast and beans for supper.
It's all on tap for Festival Franco Fun 2012, an all-day party celebrating Franco-American music, food and culture, scheduled for Saturday, June 2, at the Franco-American Heritage Center.
Festivities begin at 7 a.m. with a breakfast of crepes, followed by a children's entertainment program featuring magician Dennis Labbe of Steep Falls, who has been performing the magic arts professionally for 22 years; and storyteller Michael Parent, who produced the award-winning CD "Sundays at Grandma's – Dimanches chez Memere."
For lunch many Franco favorites will be served, including poutine, boudin and salmon pie. Also available will be burgers, hot dogs, lobster rolls and other summer staples.
Afternoon entertainment includes the French folk of Musique Tout Partout, pop and vocal music from Present Company and a performance by mezzo-soprano Joelle Morris.
A bean supper, a festival tradition, will be served at 4:30 p.m.
Taking the evening stage will be the 14-piece steel drum orchestra Tinpanic Steel Band, accordionist extraordinaire Norm Gagnon and his Groupe de Joie, and C'etait Si Bon, a reuniting of several members of the C'est Si Bon band.
C'etait Si Bon is a tongue-in-cheek reference to C'est Si Bon, one of the more popular and sought-after groups of French music in New England from 1975 to 2000. C'est Si Bon performed at all Franco-American festivals in Maine and New England, as well as in New York and Canada. The band played four times at the Quebec Winter carnival and once at the International Festival in Albany, N.Y. For several years, C'est Si Bon was the house band at Indian Head Resort in Lincoln, N.H. The group, which recorded five albums over the years, disbanded on New Years Eve 2000.
Nel Meservier and Eddie Boucher are original members of C'est Si Bon, having organized the group with Paul Boucher and Ray Chouinard. They and former C'est Si Bon members Gerry Meservier and Don Leblanc will be joined at this year's festival by Diane Meservier, a longtime member of the group Present Company. The group will perform songs of C'est Si Bon, including specialty dances such as "La Danse Des Canards," "Aga Dou" and "La Danse du Peteux."
Parent, a native Mainer of French-Canadian descent, has performed as a storyteller, singer and actor, in both English and French, throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, France, New Zealand, Ireland, Costa Rica and Brazil.
After living in Virginia for many years, where he co-founded and performed at Live Arts, a thriving alternative theater in Charlottesville, he returned to Maine in July, 1998, and now lives in Portland. He received the National Storytelling Network's "Circle of Excellence" Award in 1999, and was a keynote speaker at the 2001 National Storytelling Conference in Providence, R.I.
Parent's original stories have been included in various anthologies. His bilingual CD, "Chantons, Let's Sing," in collaboration with Greg Boardman, includes songs from the Franco-American culture, sung in an alternating French-English pattern.
The Tinpanic Steel Band, based in Auburn, is known for its high-energy calypso rhythms and big band sound. The group's repertoire includes swing and pop favorites, along with the island party music for which the steel pan is popularly recognized.
Present Company, aka Lorna Jollymore, Diane Meservier and Marge Sjostrom, has been entertaining for more than 20 years. The two singers and keyboardist perform country, early rock 'n' roll, pop music from the 1940s-60s, ballads, standards, Irish and French favorites and gospel music. The trio has become a regular feature at some of Maine's largest outdoor fairs and festivals.
Musique Tout Partout, based in Boothbay Harbor, performs spicy Cajun dance tunes and songs from the Maritime folk tradition. "Tout Partout," an expression found in some French songs, means "all around." The group has performed in a variety of settings, ranging from high school French groups to charitable fundraisers.
Morris uses her dramatic voice and musical understanding to consistently bring passion, depth and clarity to her performances, whether singing a dark aria, jazz tune or Broadway hit.
Morris graduated in 2003 with a master's degree in vocal performance from the University of Colorado's Lamont Conservatory of Music in Denver. A finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Audition in Denver in that year, she has performed as Cherubino in "The Marriage of Figaro," Dorabella in "Cosi fan Tutte" and Rosina in "The Barber of Seville." Besides performing, she is also a teacher and conductor.