About French Music at the Bell Center

with 252 comments

Wordy Word

My friend Vince is one of those prototypical couch jocks who’s whole lives revolve around NFL football, hockey playoffs and three-day NHL ’08 marathons.  Amazingly, Vince also finds time to get some work done between his ultra-realistic and complex online baseball league simulations. He’s a very successful disc jockey who’s been rocking dancefloors since way before he was legally allowed to even be in the clubs.

For the last three years Vince has also been working as the DJ at the Bell Center during the Canadien’s hockey games.  Up there on the gallery with the best seat in the house for every single home game and 25 000 cheering Habs fans below, Vince is as close to heaven as he’ll ever be if lust, gluttony and sloth are indeed deadly sins…

Since last May, however, some bad vibes have been drifting up to his happy place.  Nothing major.  Just a very persistent controversy about the amount of French and Québec music that is being played at the Bell Center.

The debate started with an online petition by publisher Michel Brûlé demanding that the Bell Center respect the CRTC requirements imposed on French commercial radio stations and play at least 65% of French music.

The Bell Center is a private business, not a broadcaster and that idea got very little support.  The debate about the amount of French music and local artists played at the Bell Center, however, lived on and today, just like Bob Gainey, Carbo and the guys on the ice,  Vince is discovering the joy of hearing people second guessing how he does his job on TV and in the papers.

Vince is very lucky to have his job, but he absolutely deserves it.  Before he was drafted by the Canadiens, he was the Expo’s DJ at the Olympic stadium.  Not many people know this, but before hockey games on Saturday nights Vince is at the Université de Montréal stadium playing music for the college football team Les Carabins.  He doesn’t need the money.  They can’t afford him anyway.  Vince is just really intense about sports and music.

Ever since Vince first appeared at our school in the fourth grade with his strange and cool breakdance LPs under his arm, it’s always been about the music, and the music could only be about what we were, French-speaking kids from this place called Québec.  Singing in English or changing your accent made you a poser and earned you our sincere contempt.

Vince led the way for the rest of us white kids into the then-scary world of Rap or deep into his dad’s collection of old Offenbach, Harmonium and Charlebois records.  He can say he’s battled Kool Rock of the first ever Québec Rap crew Mouvement Rap Francophone (coolest band logo in Québec music history) way back when you and your dad wouldn’t even acknowledge Hip Hop as music yet.  Fifteen years before the Cowboy Fringants, Vince played the drums for for Trad Rock band les Pères Verts, and wrote the lyrics for their nationalist anthem Racines (Roots).

Later, with his band Phénomen, Vince recorded two crazy eclectic albums, one of which was nominated as best Hip Hop album at the Gala de l’Adisq, the Québec equivalent of the Grammy’s.

Speaking of the Gala de l’Adisq, this year’s edition was held last sunday at, precisely, the Bell Center and I watched the gala with Vince at his house. He’s not going to like me telling you this, but when Luc Plamondon payed homage to Québec’s most successful artist ever, recalling Céline Dion’s rise from Charlemagne to worldwide stardom, her sincere loyalty to the Québec public and how she never stopped recording in French, Vince cried.

A few minutes later another legend, Claude Dubois (the guy the CBC edited out of it’s broadcast of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame along with all the other francophones artists) sang Si Dieu Existe.  Vince cried again.

I very seriously doubt that in it’s 100 year history the Montreal Canadien has ever had an employee who is more passionate about Québec music and culture.

The average hockey fan watching the game on TV, however, doesn’t actually hear much of the music played at the arena.  The “music” during the game is really just a quick succession of 5 and 10 second snippets: “We will, we will, Rock You!”,  hand claps, an organ riff and face off.  If you listen to any sports event from anywhere in the world, you will quickly notice there is a very small cannon everyone seems to be working with: Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll part two, I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett and… that’s about it.

Vince makes it a point of playing Québec artists that he likes during intermissions, when he actually gets to play the whole song.  The TV viewing crowd, sadly, is watching beer commercials or game “analysis”.  Montreal already does have it’s hometown classic sports anthems, although they are getting a bit old: Illégal by Corbeau when the other team makes a nasty hit and Éric Lapointe’s Les Boys or Rocket (on est tous des Maurices Richards).  In fact, I seriously wonder if you’ll hear as much properly ‘local’ music at any other NHL’s team home games…

Smarter artists, Loco Locass to name one, understood this and instead of calling for legislation or quotas, went to work and did their jobs and recorded a hockey song for Vince. (Btw, les Locos, Vince aimerait bien avoir un .wav…)

And let’s hope they keep doing it and keep putting out high impact rocking anthems Vince can play during Hockey games.

If they can come up with the beats and the chants, they’ve got a very good friend up there.

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 16, 2008 at 7:07 pm

252 Responses

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  1. “Nah, people in the ROC are just as cultured and intellectual as people anywhere else. It’s just that most of the stuff that a lot of people in the ROC know is from the U.S. rather than from Canada.

    Don’t confuse acculturation with intelligence or sophistication.”

    So you are implying that us poor Canadians have lost touch with Canada of which we are one, in fact to be just like the people of the US, with no difference by way “accultuaration”.(is that a real word) ..Of course this does not exist in Quebec where no one is influenced by any anyone. Heh, :)

    You got a recipe for “le sauce de poutine”, so I could be more Canadiene, comme toi?

    I imagined you listened to the Quebec election debate ??Who do you think was the winner? I think Marious made her points but Charest was better on real economics. She thinks in this economy she can have a surplus. I didnt think Dumont was that strong.

    Just my point of view and perhaps I didnt translate it all that well..not being all that good with the langue du francais.



    November 26, 2008 at 12:32 am

  2. “Except for the right to post a commercial sign only in the minority language, yes I do think that anglos in Quebec have more rights than francos in the ROC”

    Francos can post a sign in their own or any other language outside of Quebec without any restriction. Yes. Loi 101 is only in Quebec.

    “There is also the relatively high level of bilingualism among francophone Québécois that Anglo-Quebecers can and do rely upon for English service. Few anglos in the ROC are bilingual, so few of them can serve local francophones in French”

    Yes, but as I understand a great many anglos in Quebec are bilingual as well. So if confronted with a unilingual franco, I am sure they can communicate and receive some service…Must admit, if they have lived there a long time if they can’t understand and communicate basic services. well …what does that say.

    Outside of Quebec, I would assume most francos bilingual as well if they have lived in a predominatly anglo area for any length of time. So same thing although they would likely have to be accomodated more often in English due to demographics.

    Heres one for you… was in Edmonton last night due to a family member unfortunately being admitted to a hospital…There was a young oriental family with a small baby needing some help…I didnt pay much attention, until I realized they were speaking french to each other and very limited english…and the traige nurse didn’t seem to understand their problem. I thought to intervene but instead enlisted my wife who is much more adept. (Actually she didn’t believe me at first ) I have no idea of where they were originally from but some translation by my spouse got the problem cleared up. Fortunately, a small issue for them and their small child.

    Sure helps some to know a a little, doesnt it. A good lesson.




    November 26, 2008 at 12:57 am

  3. ABP: Is poutine the only thing you know about Quebec culture?


    November 26, 2008 at 12:42 pm

  4. ABP: Is poutine the only thing you know about Quebec culture?

    How about “tortiere” , its pretty good too. :)



    November 26, 2008 at 5:48 pm

  5. ABP:
    “How about “tortiere” , its pretty good too. :)”

    Ouf!! I thought you would, again, talk about subsidies… :-)


    November 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm

  6. “Ouf!! I thought you would, again, talk about subsidies… :-)”

    One could I guess talke about the subsidies by taxpayers to the Political Parties in Canada that has come up in the news and house of commons as of late.

    Consider that the Block Quebecois receives 86% of their funding from the taxpayers. They raised 806K and received 2600K from the taxpayers this last year.(or will if they maintain the existing system) If you look at the number of seats vs the total they have about 50% of the popular vote or reflective of about 3.5 million people. So if you average what they receive on their own in Quebec it is about 22 cents per person in Quebec. But they receive about $1.95 per vote from the Canadian Taxpayer in mass. Whats wrong with this picture?

    So even the Bloc Q themselves are subsidized by the other provinces.

    The other parties are also subsidized as well, but, even the green party managed nearly 50% of self generated funding.

    Ironically, the conservatives have the most to lose with their plan to cut out this public funding of political parties.

    The issue about “fincial stimulus” and the coalition government and other ridiculous “false” threats as we will not vote for this and bring the government down. I doubt either of the above will happen. THe issue is that the Bloc, Green and the status of other parties would be in Question if the program is ended. They would have to actually generate their own funding.

    Good thing, however, that the average Canadian taxpayer now is aware of this ill fated program incepted by none other than Good Old Jean C and his band of liberal bandits.



    November 28, 2008 at 2:22 pm

  7. ABP:
    > Consider that the Block Quebecois receives 86% of their funding
    > from the taxpayers.

    Make that 58%, according to today’s Devoir. Apparently the Bloc lets the riding associations keep the money they raise instead of doing any national fundraising.


    November 28, 2008 at 5:29 pm

  8. I do not have great respect for Chretien, but i must admit than this law is the best he did: political party should not be feed by corporations but by individuals. I don’t want to see the Desmarais liberal party against the Desmarais conservative party, in a power corporation canadian election.


    November 29, 2008 at 2:27 am

  9. […] rotation anywhere on the National Hockey Leagues circuit (and for that you can thank my brother Vince).  J. Kyll, the lyricist responsible for that Kreyol verse, just broke a long silence with Spit […]

  10. Can you help me out? i go to a lot of Habs games and there is a French song that they play during the games, I would like to know who sings it as I have had the song stuck in my head for days (I love it)!

    It sounds almost like a French Celtic song, its pretty fast and I think the last word of the second line is “St. Hilaire”…

    Any help would be awesome… Merci!


    January 10, 2010 at 12:43 pm

  11. Groovy Aardvark – Boisson d’avril

    That’s the song with the words st-hilaire…

    hope it’s not too late…enjoy!

    Lâche pon mon vince t’es le meilleur deejay hollandais!


    April 4, 2010 at 9:42 am

  12. im Dramatik from Muzion, thx for plain my song “L’oubli” you make us so proud.


    September 19, 2011 at 3:32 am

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