Updated: May 12
by Chris Vasseur
Photo by Daniel Paquet
As I recall it was during the holiday break when we got that really big dump of snow here in Saskatoon - all of Sk really. I shoveled for hours and hours. Then, it dumped again. More shoveling. My back will remember it, always. Funny enough, it was around that time I heard Marie-Veìronique Bourque’s newest single “The Shovel Shuffle” for the first time. But instead of blaming Bourque for conjuring this massive white dump (it was obviously her charming ode to the winter event that brought about the white stuff this time!) I had a nice little chat with the Regina flautist. Originally from Quebec, Bourque has spent a good amount of her life here in Saskatchewan. In fact, her roots stem out of the RCMP band where she started as the flute player. When the band broke up (she stayed with the RCMP for 25 years after that point) she retreated to hone her skills, longing to keep the music in her life. She did the odd national anthem on piccolo for sporting events, ceremonies and the like. Investigations and being a police officer in the Queen City would obviously take up a great chunk of one’s time and energy. It wasn’t until she retired that she was really able to reconnect with her biggest passion - music. Spending most of her professional music career in ensembles and orchestras (to this day she holds a seat with the Regina Symphony Orchestra) she decided to try jazz on for size in 2017. Going from a very structured, organized form of music to something as free as jazz was an adjustment to be sure, but a welcome one. Bourque recalls, “very, very different satisfaction…you have to be so accurate (with orchestral music)…you cannot have one note wrong. When you play jazz, well, a wrong note becomes a good note…It’s totally a different feel.” She seems comfortable enough on the new song, which was shot and recorded at Regina’s historic (and recently reopened) venue, Darke Hall. Of course, this venue is the original home of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, so that makes sense. She probably feels right at home in this beautiful theatre. They recorded it in May. And it was snowing when they recorded it. The video has some other parts not shot at Darke Hall, too. Bourque and her husband Daniel Paquet went out and got some charming footage of their own which you can see on her YouTube channel after you watch and listen to her ode to our favourite Canadian past time.
Even the title has a fun story. It’s a playful mouthful for a reason. Bourque was once teased by her band mates for saying she had to “shuffle” her driveway. Her French-Canadien accent being the target of their mockery. She owns it though, and the Shovel Shuffle is a nostalgic warm hug to enjoy whilst putting on the gear and grabbing the shovel. Again.