And the winner of the third Apéros FEQ competition is …

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

The Forest Boys jump for joy after winning the 2018 Apéros FEQ.

Throughout the winter and spring, the Festival d’Été de Québec (FEQ) gave music enthusiasts a taste of what is to come this summer. For the third consecutive year, local bands and singers participated in the Apéros FEQ concert series, competing for a spot at the festival and a $7,000 bursary.

This year, the four finalists were Lou-Adriane Cassidy, Casual Rites, Les Chercheurs d’Or and Forest Boys. The big winner was announced in front of a large crowd on May 17 at the Impérial Bell.

The evening started with Lou-Adriane Cassidy from Montreal. She was born into a family of artists and has been surrounded by music from a young age. After years on stage and in studios singing the music of others, she now performs her own compositions, a pleasant mix of chanson française and pop-folk. The crowd at the Impérial Bell loved her and “Ça va ça va,” a single from her latest EP. She gave an impressive opening performance.

Casual Rites, also from Montreal, got the crowd dancing. Phil Matte on guitar was joined by Mike Morris on bass, Pascal Denis on drums, Nathan Vanheuverzwijn playing keyboards and David St-Germain on guitar. Their style consists of introspective, raw soulful melodies. They are greatly inspired by southern American traditions and by rock, blues and folk music. They have one self-titled album.

Established bluegrass-funk quintet Les Chercheurs d’Or, from Quebec City, then presented their hits. Lead singer Isabeau Valois plays guitar, mandolin and banjo, while Luke Dawson sings and plays the double bass and electric bass. Pascal Denis (who also plays for Casual Rites) kept the beat. François Gagnon is the guitarist and Marie-Christine Roy is a wonderful violinist. For information and albums, visit leschercheursdor.bandcamp.com (An article about Les Chercheurs d’Or appeared in the March 14, 2018 edition of the QCT).

The final act, Forest Boys stole the show with a cacophonic setlist. As messed up as the sound appeared to be, it worked. All of the instruments, the tenor saxophone, drums, guitar, wind chimes, whistles, vocals and so on, blended together. They got the crowd dancing, jumping and cheering.

The final results of the evening were determined by a system consisting of a public vote, counting for 40 per cent, and the opinion of a panel of four judges (60 per cent). When the results were in, the artists were invited back onto the stage. Each of the four finalists received a $1,000 bursary.

The winner of the evening received an added $6,000, for a total of $7,000. And the winners were . . . Forest Boys! Look for them on the FEQ stage this summer.