Matapat | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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MATAPAT

French Canada doesn't get mentioned once in the Rough Guide to world music, which is hard to understand--the region's music has plainly audible connections to much-loved Cajun and Celtic forms, so it'd seem like a popular phenomenon waiting to happen. The three members of Matapat (previously known as Bourque, Bernard & Lepage) have further broadened the potential appeal of Quebecois music, introducing extra cultural influences into the Acadian melange with their eponymously titled 1998 debut on Borealis Records: multi-instrumentalist Gaston Bernard adds a striking Greek bouzouki break to the end of "Le damne," for instance, and the trio's tight harmony vocals give most of the album a pop-folk flavor. Matapat aren't purists--Simon Lepage's lurking electric bass is a constant and sometimes unwelcome reminder of that--but Quebecois traditions inform the bulk of their infectious, rhythmically engaging, and often sweet music. Benoit Bourque sings and thwacks spoons or bones, and even adds percussion aux pieds when he sits down to play accordion, stamping and shuffling in his chair. He's also an extremely nimble step dancer, which adds as much to the show sonically as it does visually, and has been a guest soloist in that capacity for probably the best-known French-Canadian folk ensemble, La Bottine Souriante. Bernard's other projects include an extended period spent in Ireland working with Hothouse Flowers, among others; here he mans fiddle, guitar, or mandolin and kicks in on feet too. The duo of Ged Foley and Sandy Jones--a guitarist from England and a violinist from South Carolina--shares the bill. Wednesday, 7 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630.

JOHN CORBETT

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