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French-Canadian music legend Cayouche headlines Country Jambeurrée

For you Anglophones: He's like a Francophone hippie version of Stompin' Tom
Cayouche plays a concert in Sudbury this Saturday. Supplied photo.

​New Brunswick musician Cayouche is sometimes called a francophone Stompin' Tom Connors. It's a comparison he doesn't mind, although, with his long beard, he has more of a hippie vibe than the late, great Stompin' Tom.

“Stompin' Tom was 'the' Canadian,” said Cayouche, whose real name is Réginald Charles Gagnon. “He was the best. I guess he sang about everyday life too.”

Cayouche's catalogue of songs have colourful names such as “Au camp,” “J'ai fumé le sapin,” “Bootlegger” and even “La Reine Du Bingo” — the Stompin' Tom comparison becomes even stronger with that last one.

He said his favourite song to play, however, is “Portrait de mon pére,” about formal wedding portraits displayed in people's homes.

“I don't know why (that's my favourite),” Cayouche said. “I like the music in it and everything.”

Cayouche visits Sudbury this Saturday as the headliner at “Country Jambeurreé,” a show being put on by La Slague at the Knights of Columbus fairgrounds on Emily Street in Hanmer.

The event begins at 5 p.m. with concerts by local artists associated with Fiddleworks as well as the local band Nickelwood Bluegrass. Cayouche takes the stage at 8:30 p.m.

“We're particularly excited to present this event in our concert season,” said La Slague's artistic director, Stéphane Gauthier, in a press release.

“Cayouche is a self-made star. His success is due to word of mouth, not industry hype. He's even known in English Canada, despite never having recorded in English. That's because in country music circles, he's the real deal.

“He writes simple songs about everyday life and plays them in a laid-back, good-humoured manner. He reminds you of Stompin' Tom Connors in that way. He's a man of the people.”

At the age of 13, Cayouche left New Brunswick with his mother to live in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.

He joined the U.S. Marines when hew as 19, and upon leaving military service, he married and had two sons in Massachusetts. In 1979, he returned to Canada and went as a nomad with his backpack and guitar.

His stage name comes from the United States. He says that people would tell him: "t’es pas Acayen t’es Acayouche," meaning "you're not Acadian, you're Acayouche” — meaning a mixed-up Acadian, because he spent part of his life in the States. "Acayouche" later became "Cayouche.” 

He's released four albums since 1994 — "Un Vieux Hippy" (which translates as An Old Hippy), "Moitié-moitié," "Roule, roule," "Last Call" and "Le rappel."

When asked about his trademark beard, Cayouche insists it's not a hippie thing — he's just too lazy to shave. “My beard is probably older than you are,” he said.

“The last time I cut my beard was in '79.”

Although he said the long drive here is a bit of a pain, Cayouche said he's looking forward to the Sudbury show.

“I'm just inviting the people in Sudbury to come out and see us and have a good time,” he said.

“Almost every show I do, I tell people 'Don't worry, your problems will still be there when you leave here. For a couple hours you'll forget your problems. Drink a few brown bottles and have a good time.'”


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Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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