A collaboration between accordion, bones, and spoons player and world-class French-Canadian step dancer Benoit Bourque; multi-instrumentalist Gaston Bernard; and composer, arranger, and bass player Simon LePage, Matapat transforms the traditional "kitchen" music and step dancing of Quebec into an exciting musical form. The trio's musical approach has garnered acclaim since its inception. Finalists for a Juno award (the Canadian equivalent to the Grammys) in 1999, the group was praised by British music magazine Folk Roots for being "at the forefront of the current revival of trad-based music and dance in Quebec."
Matapat was conceived by Bourque and Bernard shortly after leaving trad folk band Ad Vielle Que Poura. Bourque had previously been a member of Eritage, a traditional French Celtic group with which he had recorded five albums including three for children. As a step dancer, choreographer, and teacher, he had performed at festivals and music camps, as far away as Denmark and Moscow, and had released an instructional cassette and companion book, La Gigue. The founder of an international accordion festival, Le Carrefour Mondial de L'Accordeon, Bourque served on the board of directors of Le Consiel Quebecois du Patrimoine Vivant in 1993 and 1994. In addition to forming a folk dance group, Les Clusiers de Lachine, he performed with Ad Vielle Que Pourra from 1994 to 1996.
A native of Montreal, Bernard was born to Acadian parents. While his grandmother played reels on a harmonica, he was equally exposed to French, Greek, and African music. His late '80s collaboration with Greek-Canadian George Sapounadis resulted in the forming of a band, Ouzo Power. He subsequently played with uilleann piper Davy Spillane, Celtic rock band Hothouse Flowers, and jazz vocalist Karen Young. Bernard was performing with Ad Vielle Que Pourra when he met Bourque.
Simon LePage, who studied classical bass at L'Universite de Laval, standup bass with Michael Donato, and piano with Lorraine Desmarrais, has played in a variety of genres over the past two decades. In addition to working with several orchestras, he performed on a children's album recorded in 1996 by Jean-Louis Themis. ~ Craig Harris