Tucked away on the tiny Port-au-Port peninsula, in breath-taking western Newfoundland, is the even tinier community of L’Anse-à-Canards. It’s inhabitants, including Bernard & Robert Felix, call their home Black Duck Brook or “Blackdebrook”, spoken rapidly as one word.
The people here are deeply rooted in a French ancestry little affected by Canadianization. Their music, as well as their speech, is the fruit of an old world living in rare harmony with a harsh new land. Bernard & Robert are as proud of being Newfoundlanders as they are of their French forebear. and this heritage comes forth in music that is both traditional and original.
Bernard Felix’s accordion has been a natural extension of his body since he first picked up at the age of nine. Even an industrial accident which crushed his right hand couldn’t separate him from his accordion. Forced to amputate three fingers, doctors were able to surgically replace two, and Bernard was soon “playing at the speed of light” once more.
Robert, Bernard’s brother, has always had a passion for music, singing and playing the guitar at many house parties, festivals, and the local community center since the age of fifteen. With his guitar harmonizing with Bernard’s accordion, the two produced music full of joy, excitement and melancholy, spanning centuries and continents.
Since the summer of 2003, Robert has taken the place of Norman Formanger who played with Bernard for 9 years as the duo “Felix & Formanger” and is presently employed outside the province. Since being “discovered” in 1994, Bernard & Norman have been invited to perform before royalty and heads of state in Canada and Europe. With his feet tapping as fast as his fingers are flying, bilingual Bernard acted as the duo’s spokes person, and is becoming recognized as an accordion virtuoso.
Felix & Formanger have recorded two tapes, Jigs & Reels; A Little Duo Of Accordion Music; and two CD’s; Between The Jigs & Reels and Carrying On The Tradition. Bernard is also featured on other CD’s Including Scott Macmillan’s “Minnie Sessions Volume 3” and Pam Morgan’s “On A Wing & A Prayer”
Bernard recorded additional CD’s. In 2007, “A Song For My Mother Mary” and in 2011 “Something Old Something Newer”. He is presently a traditional accordion music instructor at the French schools of Cape St. George and Mainland, on the Port-au-Port peninsula. Norman still works out west but does gigs with Bernie & Robert from time to time when he is back on the island. Robert works as coordinator for the French organization in Black Duck Brook and has been for nearly 30 years.
There are plans for Bernie & Robert to record an album during the winter of 2017. Something that has been a long time coming.