Ville Émard Blues Band
Ville Émard Blues Band (familiarly Ville Émard). 'The aggregation of session musicians and hired hands that became the catalyst of Quebec's rock revolution in the mid-1970s' (Juan Rodriguez, Montreal Gazette, 11 Aug 1979). Active only 1973-5 it included musicians from the bands of Robert Charlebois, Renée Claude, Claude Dubois, and others (including Contraction in its entirety), under the informal leadership of the bass guitarist Bill (Roland) Gagnon (b Verdun, Montreal, ca 1943). Musicians numbered from 7 to 25 and included such prominent performers as the singers Lise Cousineau and Estelle Sainte-Croix, the pianist Pierre Nadeau, the percussionists Denis Farmer, Michel Séguin, and Christian St-Roch, the saxophonists Carlyle Miller and Renald Montemeglio, and the guitarists Rawn Bankley and Robert Stanley.
The band made its debut on the CBC TV program 'Décibel,' taking the name Ville Émard Blues Band from a Montreal neighbourhood for the occasion. 'Blues band' was, in fact, a misnomer; Ville Émard's turbulent, at times haphazard, mix of rock, jazz, African and Latin influences served as a dramatic reflection of the new ground broken in Québécois pop music during this period.
Though the musicians maintained their associations with other groups and/or performers, they gathered on a co-operative basis for outdoor concerts in Montreal during the summer of 1973 and a 'grand debut' 27 October at the University of Montreal. In 1974 Ville Émard undertook a 30-concert tour of Quebec, appeared in a concert of some legend at the Forum, and performed on Centre Island, near Toronto. Details of the band's two albums, Live at Montreal (2-Funkébec FK-600/1, recorded at the St-Denis Theatre in January 1974) and Ville Émard (1975, Funkébec FK-602), are published in the Canadian Jazz Discography.