Alexe Gaudreault exploded onto the scene in 2013 when she blew away 2 million TV viewers – one of which happened to be songwriter Marc Dupré, who welcomed her on the hit TV show La Voix – following her powerful interpretation of Jacques Brel’s classic, “Quand on n’a que l’amour.”

Flash forward, and Alexe Gaudreault is sitting at the top of the BDS charts with her song “Placebo,” which she co-wrote alongside multi-instrumentalist and producer John Nathaniel, who’s scored many radio hits for Final State and Andie Duquette, and wordsmith Mariane Cossette-Bacon.

The song is firmly planted in current musical trends, and tailor-made for the airwaves, with a production that owes as much to Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound as to earworms by contemporaries such as Ryan Tedder and Lana Del Rey.

The fiery redhead will be working hard in the coming weeks to complete her first full-length album in collaboration with Nathaniel. The album is slated for release sometime in 2016.

Blues is in Colin Linden’s blood. His introduction to blues culture, and the turning point in his life, was when a friend of his brother’s turned him on to Howlin’ Wolf (a.k.a. Chester Burnett).

Shortly thereafter, in November 1971, an 11-year-old Linden met the blues legend before his Saturday matinée gig at Toronto’s Colonial Tavern. The pair chatted for hours and became fast friends. On Rich in Love, the guitarist/producer’s first solo record in six years, the Renaissance man collaborates with his musical mates and some industry heavyweights, and finds inspiration from dearly departed friends. The result: a dozen deep cuts that ooze with buckets of soul, and lure you in to listen. In each well-crafted note, you can hear whispers of Howlin’ Wolf — and the many other blues icons — who’ve shaped Linden’s musical journey.

“It never loses its thrill,” says Linden, in reference to putting out a solo recording. “It doesn’t feel that different from when I was 20. Interestingly enough, I didn’t even know it would feel that way until it came out.”

“I’m just happy to have some songs that feel honest and real.”

Rich in Love is a collaborative effort. “It’s really a story about Johnny [Dymond], Gary [Craig], and me,” Linden says. “The three of us playing together and the decades of friendship and music that we share.”

Bassist Dymond and drummer Craig have shared the limelight with Linden for so long that there is a simpatico and mutual musical understanding whenever the trio convenes. Rich in Love was mostly recorded in Linden’s Nashville home studio. Legendary blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite and keyboardist Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan), also lent their talents. And, even though he passed away in 2007, Linden says, “The spirit of [keyboardist] Richard Bell looms large on the record.”

When I catch up with the guitarist/producer, he’s in Music City, driving to the set of the hit TV drama Nashville – currently in production for Season Four, airing this fall on ABC. Linden is the show’s music supervisor, plays 75 per cent of the guitar you hear on the show, and teaches all the actors their singing and playing parts.

The last few years have been a prolific period for the 55-year-old. Linden has toured as a guitarist with Bob Dylan, performed at The White House, played on Rhiannon Giddens’ Tomorrow Is My Turn, and released another Blackie & The Rodeo Kings record (South). As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also produced records for many other musicians, including the latest (Telling Time) from up-and-coming SOCAN member Lucas Chaisson. Somehow, in between, the musician carved out time to write songs for and record Rich in Love.

Most of the songs came together over a couple of years. “It started off with Johnny, Gary and I setting up in a little room in my house,” Linden recalls. “Blackie & the Rodeo Kings had just finished playing at The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco and the pair came back with me to Nashville afterwards. We said, ‘Let’s just take a few days and see what’s there.’”

“I had to go off to a shoot for the TV show [Nashville],” he continues. “When I came home three hours later, the couch had been moved out of the studio and in its place was a set of drums. Janis [Linden’s wife] and Johnny had put up a set of curtains and Gary had set up a bunch of cushions from the couch to make the room sound a certain way… it was all there; that’s how we started. We recorded the first two or three songs as a sort of reconnaissance recording. We figured the worst that could happen is these would be demos, but they ended up being the first couple of songs we cut for the record.”

A number of songs on Rich in Love were inspired by the words of friends now gone but not forgotten. For example, “No More Cheap Wine” has a whole lot of the late musician and novelist Paul Quarrington in it, says Linden: “When Paul was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer, the first thing he said was, ‘OK, no more cheap wine!’ I thought that was a great way of dealing with it and looking at the limitations your life may have. It was a great inspiration.”

Despite all his success, Linden remains ever humble. “I get bashful when I talk about songwriting,” he says, “because when you’re playing guitar and ‘Desolation Row’ is coming out of the monitor in front of you, by the guy who wrote it [Bob Dylan], it makes you reconsider how high your bar is as a songwriter. I’m just happy to have some songs that feel honest and real.”

Publisher: warner Chappell Music Canada Ltd.
Selected Discography: Rich in Love (2015); Still Live (2012); From the Water (2009); Big Mouth (2003); Southern Jumbo (2005); South at Eight North at Nine (1993); The Immortals (1986)
SOCAN member since 1992

Track Record

  • “Delia Come For Me,” from the new record, was partially inspired by the 2011 execution in Georgia of Troy Davis for murder; a case that reminded Linden of the old country-blues murder ballad, “Delia.”
  • Linden played on Gregg Allman’s Grammy-nominated Low Country Blues;
  • He’s an eight-time JUNO award winner.

Galaxie is Olivier Langevin and a bunch of his friends, guys from Lac Saint-Jean (“the Lac” to locals) that like to have fun, play hockey and who don’t fuss over their looks: jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps… Simple and authentic people. But when they get together to play music, they kick ass, no pussyfooting, they get down to business. That’s been his a priority ever since his teens.

Among that bunch of friends is one Fred Fortin, Langevin’s best friend and mentor. “I met Fred when I was 16 or 17,” he says. “When he released Joseph Antoine Frédéric Fortin Perron in 1996, no one else self-produced with such talent. Like Richard Desjardins, he’s always relevant, yet knows how to be touching and poetic.” Langevin doesn’t lack in that department either. He’s an accomplished musician whose intensity is surpassed only by his love of the guitar.

The young man born in St-Félicien followed in the footsteps left for him by Fortin, who hired Langevin for his first solo tour. Later, in 1998, they were the core of Gros Mené. The band played a dirty, heavy kind of garage rock that clashed with industry standards but was totally aligned with the output of such luminaries as Jon Spencer (sound wise) and Beck (the experimental approach).

Ever since he fell in love with the guitar at 13, Langevin has never stopped experimenting, thanks in no small part to the support of his parents. “When you drove in St-Félicien, you thought what you heard was the noise from the pulp mill, but in fact, it was Olivier Langevin playing guitar,” says Peter Paul in Bandeapart’s documentary titled Face au mur which traces the special sound of the bands from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. A completely self-taught musician and producer, Olivier Langevin eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s what keeps him alive.

Being True to Oneself

Galaxie’s sound (the band started out as Galaxie 500) is distinctive, and evolves from album to album. The band’s first, eponymous album came out in 2002, and already one can hear that unique mix of hard blues-rock and electronica that’s still present on last February’s Zulu. Tigre et Diesel was a finalist at the prestigious Polaris Awards in 2011. Langevin is a great example of how rock and the French language aren’t mutually exclusive. Québécois, however, is even better. And he is totally unashamed of his “joual du Lac,” the dialect/accent typical of the area.

With lyrics like “Le diable me donne le beat” (“The devil gives me the beat”) and “À cause de toi le ciel est comme un dancefloor maléfique” (“Because of you, the sky is like an evil dancefloor”), Langevin clearly signals that he doesn’t care about the “universality” of his lyrics. He sings like he speaks, he sings like he wants to. “The truer you are to yourself, the better,” he quips.

Openness Leads to Renewal

Speaking of which, where do Langevin’s lyrics come from? “Often times, it starts with the music,” he says. “While I record, I simply hum the melody, I don’t have the lyrics yet. Then when I’m happy with the music, I dig around the notes where I’ve organized certain lyrical flashes I’ve had, ideas, song sections. I seek those that would work well with the music and the feeling I’ve laid down. Other times, everything just happens in one jet. It depends.”

We know Olivier Langevin as the the guitar hero whose style channels Jimi Hendrix as much as Jimmy Page. But few people suspect how much wider his musical horizons are. “I’ve always loved blues from the ‘40s and ‘50s,” he says, “as well as guitar players such as John McLaughlin and Bill Frisell, who’ve just played everything. I also love Ry Cooder and and Pete Anderson, kings of the blues and country.” So, a super-soft folk album, could that happen? “Absolutely,” he says. “Not now, because that’s not where I’m at right now, but yeah, it could happen. It wouldn’t be a Galaxie album, though. It would have to be something else. I’d love to do a hip-hop record, that’s something I’m really into.”

“I’d love to do a hip-hop record, that’s something I’m really into.”

Among other accomplishments, Langevin has produced records for Vincent Vallières (folk), Mara Tremblay (country-ish), and the Dales Hawerchuk (super heavy), and he also likes to compose movie and corporate soundtracks. “It really is a stimulating challenge!” he says. “I have to create very precise moods that will play in a very specific way within a professional context. It’s a very stimulating exercise that allows me to earn a living while still making music.”

At the time of this interview, Olivier Langevin was just back from the Lac, where he’d been working with Fred Fortin on a new solo album that should be released in 2016. “We also recorded material for a new Gros Mené album,” he says.

Langevin is a happy man: his musical creativity has never been so high, and the birth of his daughter made him feel rejuvenated, and gave him a tremendous boost of energy. Everything is on track and full-steam ahead.

Galaxie played in Abitibi’s FME, in September, and the band has been touring all over Quebec, including Alma, Amqui, Joliette, Québec City and Val-David, to name but a few.

More details on the band’s web site,