History revisited by Thomas Hellman

thomas-hellman-relate-large-trancheAnyone who has visited Tadoussac knows the old chapel, the red and white dating back to the French regime. There is another, however, whose exterior is nice, but not commensurate with the setting in which Thomas Hellman presented the show American Dreams Saturday afternoon, as part of the Song Festival.

Walls like the ceiling are painted wood, in fact, and the building is so well maintained that feels like in 1866, the year it was built. Hard to imagine a more appropriate place to tell a slice of the history of the United States bounded by the Gold Rush of 1849, California, and the Crisis of 1929.

This is the subject of Thomas Hellman, who first product for chronic state radio before matching them with some traditional songs, sometimes recent, he plays in the company of bassist Sage Reynolds and pianist and percussionist Olaf Gundel. This is to show how the great history and the fate of ordinary people have crossed, sometimes for the better, often for the worse.

The tone is set from the outset when considering the collateral damage caused by the Gold Rush. A piece removed, pulsed by the banjo, evokes the climate of violence that prevailed after the discovery of a nugget by John Marshall. Himself poor finish in a hut lost in the woods. The Indians were less fortunate because in 1870 the number rose from 150 000 to 30 000 people.

Fugitive dreams

Often during the show, we see that the American dream was just that, a dream for the common man. This is illustrated by the legend of John Henry, a former slave who dies after defying a machine can replace dozens of men on building sites.

The harsh conditions of minors is also narrated through air with Celtic accents where underground tunnels are compared to dungeons. It is as sinister as the fate of the Americans, following the Dust Storms, had to flee the thick cloud of dust that destroyed their land, sometimes their health in order to migrate to California.

To put these events in their historical context, Thomas Hellman speaks as he sings, however, without the class to the public on Saturday, occupied almost all available seats. Among other things, it captures the notion of movement, so central to the US and ruptures that result.

“You never retraces his steps,” he sings, accompanying himself on the piano. Worlds die and others are born, as suggested by a text taken from Henry David Thoreau “Walden.” It is bucolic, the image of his little house nestled in a lake (or rather a pond), but there is also a train that goes in the same area. Sooner or later, these two versions of the American dream can no longer live together.

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