This record came out in 1980 on the small quebec label called Intervalle. Shawi is Jean Gignac, Jean Cournoyer and Marcel Lord. It seems probable that the 2 guys on the covers are the guitar player/singers and the drummer doesn’t get a picture. These guys seem to be ungoogleable and it’s mainly pages concerning the Berber language shawi. However, according to the inner lyric sleeve and my heavily flawed french to english translation.


Native word, signifiying “Portage”
Portage of a canoe, of luggage,
a message, energy

Portage also means
passage from one place to another,
from a known dimension
to a new dimension
to the discovery of new
horizons, in a world always
in evolution for the better.

Man, I wonder how much these guys hippies vibe’s were harshed with the arrival of the 1980s, needless to say that their acoustic guitar bongo jam out probably didn’t do too well. But, in the land of poutine, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were playing sold out shows at place des arts in the midst of everybody else in North America jamming to Hall and Oates or Lionel Richie (or tomorrow).

Price: Under $2.00
Location: Thrifting

La Nouvelle
browntown version

24 Responses to Shawi

  1. Anonymous says:

    finally able to upload this and WOAH THAT IS SOME SOFT MUSIC

  2. wornhill says:

    it’s in consideration for the next magazine mixtape of canadian soft with bruce cockburn, doug randle and cliff edwards.

  3. Hilary MacLeod says:

    “Shawi” may mean all the native things you say — as it was (and is) an abbreviation for “Shawinigan”, which is where, or close to where, these musicians come (came) from. Probably a”portage” place. Yes, the photos are of the guitarists, not the drummer. The darker haired is Jean Cournoyer and the lighter haired is Jean Gignac. They’d been playing together since the late 1960s, early 70s. They laid down some incredible (soft, yes, hippie, yes) music in those days, with piano (Gignac) and flute (various) accompaniment.
    Jean Gignac is the composer and soul of “Shawi,” which I guess no longer exists. But as you say — not very “googlable.”

  4. Hilary MacLeod says:

    Just to clarify: photo one: Jean Gignac. Photo 2: Jean Cornoyer

  5. Hilary MacLeod says:

    Have loads more firsthand info about these guys, shoulld you wish it — including “basement tapes’.

  6. wornhill says:

    Hey Hilary – thanks very much for all the cool information about these guys. I would definitely be more interested in more information and some more sounds from these guys. Makes good sense with the Shawinigan connection. Just wondering how you know all these interesting facts. Were you a fan or a relative? Thanks again and I hope that you take the time to share some more info and sounds.

  7. Hilary MacLeod says:

    Didn’t check this site again until today. I realize my email address was missing a letter — corrected now. My family — the MacLeods and various members of the Gignac family formed a friendship at Lac des Piles in the late sixties through the seventies. Jean Gignac and Jean Cournoyer had various different bands at that time and played a lot locally and on long summer overnights when we all stayed up until dawn. This went on for 5 or 6 years and the crowds and their following grew at an old lakeside hotel, that was situated behind Jean Chretien’s cottage. He was Justice Minister at the time, and all the partying bothered him — I don’t blame him in retrospect — and the hotel was magically closed down, torn down, and the scene came to an end. That last summer, Jean Gignac put together a reel to reel tape and gave it to my husband and me. I later had it transferred onto cassette, and have approximately two full cassettes of the music.

  8. wornhill says:

    Hey Hilary – thanks again for more information. Just wondering where the email address is so I can ask to hear those cassettes. Let me know.

  9. Hilary MacLeod says:

    Not sure what you want more than the email address given on this site. I could dub off the cassettes for you — if I knew where to send them. Have capability of transferring them to CD (at work), but that’s a bit more time consuming, as must be done in real time, not at high speed. So, more likely to do the cassette thing, if you still have that old technology, and I knew where to send them.

  10. Hilary MacLeod says:

    I wouldn’t mind getting hold of that album. I bet there’s at least some of the same stuff on it. Could you tell me the song titles?

  11. wornhill says:

    Hey Hilary – cassette tapes would be amazing and way better for me than cds since i don’t have a working cd player. the album is back out in montreal and will take a look at it when i get back there at the end of the week. i would be more than happy to trade for a dub (i can do either tape or digital mp3s) of the record. Let me know if you’re interested. My address is:
    5912 Rue St. Urbain
    Montreal, Quebec
    H2T 2X5

  12. Hilary MacLeod says:

    Dubbing off the tapes to cassette will be no problem at all. Will do it this week.

    Would love either tape or digital, whichever is easier for you.

    Will include my address with tapes.


  13. wornhill says:

    Hey Hillary – mailed off the cassette dub of the album for you a little while ago. Hope that you got it alright. Please let me know if not.

  14. Hilary MacLeod says:

    Yup. Thanks. I got the tape a few weeks ago.

  15. H. Gignac says:

    I can confirm that all was said was true.

    My brother had a natural talent and feeling for music even though he didn’t have a lot of former training…
    But his music stayed the same through the years and for that reason, he was not able to acheeve what he was suppose tu achieve.

    The story about the hotel and M. Chrétien is also true. It brought grest frustation and a sentiment of great injustice because this was a place of freedom and fun for a lot a people.

  16. To Wornhill —

    I have received no reply from Jean Gignac’s sister about whether he is alive or dead. She likely is not checking in.

    Are you able to ask this of her? I expect I would have heard if anything happened to him. I know, for instance, that his cousin recently died. Nonetheless, I am concerned.


  17. Jean Gignac is still alive. And my father too ( Jean Cournoyer) they are always friend and still playing weird stuff ( it’s a joke) 😉

  18. Jean Gignac says:

    I am the Jean Gignac that you’r talking about. I just saw what it’s written on this ¨Backroom¨. I red the comments and the informations about ¨Shawi¨. I wrote the songs on this album except for ¨Douceur de Vivre¨ , a beautiful piece by Jean Cournoyer. I wrote a lot of new songs since, recorded six more albums (cd) and I’m still working on a new one (18 songs). After a long disease, i’m physically much better now, recovering, and musically speaking, I’m in the better shape as ever. Thanks to Hilary Macleod who’ve been a close friend and part of my early beginnings. You still have the same nice place in my heart Hilary. I would like to hear from you but I don’t know how to reach you. «» and Im on ¨facebook¨ to, easy to find. A new ¨spot¨ on the Net is coming and I’m on the road again, starting a new show. See you soon !

    Jean Gignac

  19. wornhill says:

    Hey Jean – thanks for your comment and hopefully you’ve heard from Hilary by now. I know that at least in the past she checked up on this occasionally. Also thanks for the music. Do you happen to have more copies of this record available on vinyl?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Jean Gignac and I made contact — but only this year. He is finally “googleable.” Thanks, Wornhill, for helping two old friends meet again after nearly 40 years! That was quite a little journey.

    Hilary MacLeod

  21. Thanks to the Backroom site, Jean Gignac and I have been reunited — in May — after nearly 40 years. What a journey!

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