Marc Prevost

Fiddler Folk Musician &

Multi-Instrumentalist

 

 

Marc Prevost is a renowned fiddler and folk musician from Le Havre, Normandy, France. A true Norman. His lifelong passion for Celtic Folk Tunes in particular Irish music, is not a family tradition, indeed his family are of noble stock dating back to William The Conquerer.

Marc's real name is Marc Le Prevost De La Vallee De Tenmare. His is a 1000 year old aristocratic family who's seat was Paye De Caux. They were one of the Keltic tribes called Calettes by the Germans. In spite of family traditions perhaps it was these genes that drew Marc to become a Celtic musician.

Although the fiddle is his main instrument, he is a  talented multi instrumentalist. A formidable Banjo player, he also plays the Penny Whistle, Mandolin, Harmonica, Hurdy-Gurdy (Vielle), Guitar, Bones and Jews Harp.

A self taught from the age of eight, his first instrumentwas the mandolin. He formed his first band at the age of thirteen, a bluegrass outfit with college friends. As he had already recruited a mandolin player, Marc played the banjo, he used this alongside his first fiddle, which he had taken up a year earlier.

 

His growing interest in Irish music, in particular fiddle tunes was strenghtened when he made a month long trip to Dublin in 1973 at the age of Fifteen. On return he went to an Irish festival in Paris and met up with the legendary Irish Fiddler Ted Furey. Ted was so impressed with Marcs abilities that he invited him back to Dublin. However there wasted-furey-2 the small matter of financing his studies in Ireland. Eventually he received a grant from the Le Havre authorities In 1977 and set off for Dublin  to study English at Trinity College. Indeed his Irish accent is so strong these days, that when he speaks English, many people think he is Irish. 

On his arrival he renewed his aquantance with Ted and began a two year stint of intensive fiddle study. He played with Ted and other noted musicians Donal Lunny, Christie Moore and Davy Spillane, at O'Donaghues Pub, Dublin. He also spent some time busking for money with the young Davy Spillane.

Marc returned to France at his fathers request, to learn about the family business. As the only son it would eventually become his responsability to take over the reins from his father. However Marcs love of music grew ever stronger, and he used this period in France to work with various bands. Hedromel specialised in medieval music with the occasional celtic tune. When the leader of the group departed the group changed its name to Shag and became a pure Irish music band which included  Eric Lorme on guitar.

By now he was also getting used to performing at festivals, having played at Concarneau, Paris and St Malo with Hedromel. However greater recognition was gained with Shag who had a formidable reputation as a live outfit, performing at the Ris-Orangis Festival in Paris two years in a row. Helping to establish the festivals strong reputation for celtic music. The band were often joined by other Irish music lovers, including Marc's long time friend, box player Philipe Vardier. Like many Irish musician Marc moonlighted with other bands and players including La Bousine, for whom he played the Hurdy-Gurdy (Vielle).

 

It was during this period that Marc received the news of Ted Furey's untimely death. For him  the loss of his mentor and friend was a terrible shock, even given Ted's great age. During their time together he had given Marc his old and battered fiddle case , which Marc still has and uses to this day. Many a great fiddling tune has been pulled out of that case.

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Marc had been returning to Ireland every year, and it was here in late 1980 that he received the news that was to cause the music to stop. He was called up to do his national service in the navy, in 1981 he started his one year stint.

1982 to 1984 saw him recharging his musical batteries in Ulster (Derry and Belfast) and Eire (Galway, Cork and County Clare). During this happy period Marc played with creagh1members of  De Dannon and The Bothy Band, Frankie Gavin and other great musicians including Seamus Creagh, who remained in touch with Marc for the rest of his life.

By 1985 he had returned to Le Havre to take control of the family business from his father who wanted to retire. The business was an iron works and a long way from the career in music he had chosen. Members of his old band Shag had long since gone their own ways, so he started gigging with his old friend Philipe Vardier the accordian player. However because of his responsabilities Marc was restricted to performing mostly at weekends. The difficulties were compounded when his father died in 1987, as in many ways it was he who he kept the business running for. He carried on until 1989 when he decide to let the business go to people who had more heart for it.

The end of the business did not make life easier. His mother wanted to move the family seat out of the city, to this purpose they purchased a large mansion size property in Le Parc d'Anxtot. Marc was now the keeper of the family ring (a French Tradition), effectively he was the head of the family with new responsabilities. The house they purchased was in need of serious renovation. Marc virtually disappeared from social life for six years, doing all the work for their home himself. It was1995 when he resurfaced, although he had no wish at first to rejoin the music community imediately, as he saw himself as retired. For a long period he concentrated on selected solo projects, even turning down opportunities to return to Ireland.

It was when he took his fiddle to be repaired in 2000 he bumped into his old partner Eric Lorme from the band Shag. By now Eric was also a fiddler and a Lutier. Eric had just set up a new band Donegal and persuaded Marc to join them. Donegal had amongst its musicians the Uillean piper Ian Gordon Smith, Marc was now officially out of retirement. The band were one of the busiest outfits around, with the resurgence of  Irish music, due in many ways to Ireland joining the EU and Irish pubs appearing in every major city. Marc met up with Seamus Creagh for a session at the Jumiges Keltic Music Festival near Rouen, he took the opportunity to introduce him to Eric Lorme.  The band were active for a couple of years, playing also at the cult cafe the Strangeley Strange But Oddly Normal Cafe (SSBONC), where he met its founder Robert Burns.

bag-onails-When Donegal finished in 2002 Marc took on two roles. He set up a duo with Ian Gordon Smith called Bag O'Nails and joined SSBONC in their efforts to put on cultural and music projects in their venue and around the city. Marc was busy again, as well as solo gigs and Bag O'Nails he became involved in promoting young acoustic musicians at SSBONC and other venues. One of these Anais Joye joined the band along with veteran musician Didier Guyot. In 2003 Marc got together with Seamus Creagh Anais Joye and Eric Lorme for a one off irish session in McDaids Irish Pub.

In 2005 SSBONC closed because of building problems and has not reopened. Bag O'Nails kept going for two more years when Ian Gordon Smith moved on. However new projects were afoot. Marc and Didier did a tour of schools demostrating folk music instruments in a project called Voyage Des Instruments. Performing on the stage remained the most important to the and another idea evolved. They wanted to perform Irish music with line dancers. Gas O'Lynn was born with Marc, Didier, Anais and a young dance troupe. Marc also performed as a duo with Anais Joye calling themselves Martine.

The popularity of Gas O'Lynn has grown quickly and now includes harpist Alice Cissoko. Strangley the performers are much better known outside of Le Havre than in their own city. Marc works now regularly on these projects and in 2009 he came to England and Martine performed in the great real ale pub The Bluebell in Staffordshire. Tours and CD's are on the agenda for the next twelve months, retirement now seems a long way away.