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Meet the Masters: La Famille Ouimet,
French American Traditions, Valley Falls

Bernie and Norm explain how they present the old songs to modern ears.
Listen (Real 1:16)

The Ouimets sing the rousing traditional Vive La Compagnie.
Listen (Real 0:20)

Bernie describes the changing role that music plays in French American families.
Listen (Real 1:36)

The Ouimets sing the traditional French Canadian Le Petit Marie.
Listen (Real 2:53)

Meet the Masters: La Famille Ouimet, French American Traditions

The Ouimet family see themselves as preservers of a number of vanishing traditions. They play traditional music in the French American ethnic tradition, and they pass the music on within the family, performing as a family band. Old-style Quebecois rugmaking is among the other talents of this Valley Falls family.  Go to full article
La Famille Ouimet actively practices the music, cooking, dances, and celebrations traditional in their family. In the early 1950s, the family moved from Quebec to Cohoes, where everybody in their neighborhood spoke French and worshipped at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church. In those days, the Ouimets often went home to St. Jean for family occasions where they learned songs, some of which go back to medieval Brittany. For public performances, Bernard plays the traditional button accordion or keyboard, while his brother Normand plays the guitar. They both sing, often demonstrating traditional rounds or answering songs, as well as ballads. Nephews whom they have taught sometimes join them. Their mother Lucille is an accomplished needleworker, having taught Bernard's wife Françoise a very rare rug weaving tradition from old Quebec. They use a wagon wheel as a form and colorful scraps from the textile mills in Cohoes.

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