Considering they've lived in its shadow for decades, the members of Alouest are taking a rather circuitous route to Mackin Park.
The five-piece folk group will mark their inaugural performance at Festival du Bois this weekend, despite the fact many of the members have called Maillardville home for more than 20 years.
"We are a bunch of guys who really want to be there, and we really want to do the music justice," said Denis Leclerc, who covers off on fiddle, mandolin, banjo and vocal duties in the band. "Our biggest interest, and what really turns us on, is the audience. Playing on stage is the payoff for us and we all get pretty excited."
The fact that they've finally come together as a band is equal parts circumstance and fate. Leclerc said all of the members have known, or at least heard of, each other in the past, and some of them have jammed together at informal gatherings in Maillardville.
The conscious decision to consolidate their efforts and make a go of it in their own band was made last year, and the resulting sound is a hybrid of Celtic tunes, Latin music and traditional Francophone folk music.
"At first it was kind of a lighthearted project where we tended to collaborate on a lot of stuff," Leclerc said. "But now as we discover our potential, there's definitely a strong desire for the band to go in different directions."
Consisting of members Leclerc, Daniel Legal, Vincent Coulombe, Yves LaForet and Michel Legal, the band will perform on the main stage, or Grand Chapiteau, at 11: 30 a.m. on Saturday, March 2 and again at 10: 50 a.m. one day later.
Leclerc, however, will be pulling triple duty over the three-day event. He'll also be performing alongside Les Jammers, a long-standing Maillardville institution of all things Francophone folk, as well as delivering workshops at Mackin House Museum.
Leclerc's presentations will touch on the "legend and lore" of early Francophone history, with stories focusing on characters like Ti-Jean, Dalbec and Joseph Monferrand, Billy Miner and Charlie Slumach.
"I take people back in time and start off with what people believed in terms of their darkest fears while they were still living in continental France, and how those things changed after they crossed the Atlantic and came to Canada," Leclerc said.
The familial type of vibe is also at play with another band performing this weekend, as the Vashaan Ensemble represents two generations coming together to celebrate their Iranian heritage.
Performing on the main stage at 1: 45 p.m. on Saturday, the group's mission statement is to convey the best life has to offer through sound.
"All the songs are about joy in one form or another," said group member Hamin Honari, a former Coquitlam resident and Gleneagle Secondary grad. "Western audiences may think that Persian music sounds kind of sad or really deep, so we decided to focus on the more festive melodies from Iran."
Both of Honari's parents still live in Coquitlam and are fellow bandmates, though that intergenerational dynamic doesn't get in the way of the songwriting process.
"I think it's great. Everyone gets along and there's a great dynamic in the group," said Honari, who plays a traditional Middle Eastern drum called the tombak.
"It feels like one big family whenever we have rehearsals, not just my family performing together."
The group takes its inspiration from a specific region in the southeast part of Iran called Baluchistan, an area that shares many cultural similarities with India and Pakistan.
"A common theme in the music from the region tends to be love and out of that, it comes out in so many different forms - inspired from a beautiful night, for example, or from seeing someone you love for just a glance," he said. "All these things are really strong metaphors for love and that's what we try to convey."
A full schedule for Festival du Bois, which runs Friday night through Sunday night, is available at www.festivaldubois.ca.
A handful of events are running concurrently throughout the community to coincide with the onset of Festival du Bois.
Place des Arts is rolling out an exhibit courtesy of master dyer and textile artist Joanne Plourde called The Voyageurs Epic: Perseverance.
Running now through March 16, the exhibit includes a range of textile art installations and recalls stories of the early voyageurs and their travels throughout B.C.
"The Voyageurs Epic: Perseverance is about absence, the story of a fort established in the 19th century on the Fraser and the return of the voyageurs," Plourde said in a press release.
"The artwork proposes to commemorate the life of the voyageurs, the building of a fort and the creation of strong relationships between the voyageurs and the many First Nations around Fort Langley."
The Quebec-based musical trio Genticorum will play double duty this weekend as well, first performing at PoCo's Terry Fox Theatre tonight (Friday) before taking to the stage at Festival du Bois on Saturday.
Combining a unique stage presence, humour and the musical chops to back it all up, the group has played more than 800 concerts in 15 countries since its inception.
Tonight's show gets underway at 7 p.m. and costs $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for students. Genticorum will perform Saturday from 12: 30 to 1: 30 p.m. under the workshop tent at Festival du Bois.