Performers for the 2018 National Folk Festival

Accordionist and singer Yves Lambert is a towering figure in the traditional Québécois music revival. In 1976, he was a founder of the legendary ensemble La Bottine Souriante and was, for 26 years, the heart and soul of this innovative, internationally renowned Québécois band. Regarded as a “leading light in the traditional aesthetic of [Québec’s] cultural heritage,” he has led the Yves Lambert Trio since 2010.   

During the four centuries since the founding of Québec in 1608, a distinctive musical style developed around the kitchen hearths and in the dance halls of the province. The descendants of the early French immigrants passed down songs and stories, slowly incorporating musical influences from their Irish and Scots neighbors to create a rich, uniquely Québécois musical culture. Most of Québec’s popular dance music types, such as jigs, reels, and hornpipes, were introduced by Scottish soldiers in the late 1700s. Then, in the 1800s, many Irish arrived in search of a better life in Québec, where their Catholic faith made them natural allies of their French neighbors. Irish musical traditions were similar to older Québec styles, and local musicians eagerly incorporated Irish tunes, adding their own, distinct Québécois swing. 

Yves is a native of Québec’s Lanaudière region, known for its extensive and rich traditions of song, dance, and music. While partly explained by the area’s relative isolation from the homogenizing effects of Anglophone and American culture, it is also based in Lanaudière’s unique history as a meeting place of different strands of Franco-Canadian tradition; after the British expulsion of the Acadian population from Nova Scotia in 1755, many Acadians settled in the Lanaudière region, bringing their musical traditions with them.  

Searching for new musical adventures after leaving La Bottine Souriante, and always attentive to the next generation of musicians, Yves surrounded himself with young talent—including current bandmates Tommy Gauthier and Olivier Rondeau. In 2004, he created the Bébert Orchestra, and subsequently, the Yves Lambert Trio. The trio showcases interplay between maturity and youth to create an exciting musical dialogue, as the ensemble mines the rich musical heritage of Québec, giving new life to the forgotten or undiscovered gems of the tradition. Yves Lambert’s charisma and talent, coupled with the brilliant work of Tommy Gauthier on fiddle, mandolin, bouzouki, and foot percussion and Olivier Rondeau on guitar, the nuances of the group’s arrangements, its eclectic rhythmic and sonic palates, and distinctive harmonies make this trio a one-of-a-kind musical experience. They demonstrate, with great élan, how traditional music continually reinvents itself in a modern context.