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Terrance Simien

A Creole Zydeco Recording Artists




Terrance Simien expands the music of the Creoles


With everything from soul to country rock to reggae

By Al Rudis, Staff writer

Article Launched: 06/19/2008 09:33:21 PM PDT


Terrances' Louisiana travel video... Click here
Click on to this funny one


Those who prefer the vision of America as a melting pot rather than a nation of warring races, sexes and political parties might want to take a trail ride in rural southern Louisiana.

"Outside of Louisiana, nobody knows about them," said Terrance Simien in a telephone interview last week. "It's all like private organizations that give them. It's not something that's set up for the tourists, but everyone's invited, everyone's welcome.

"Right now in the summertime, you'll have one every weekend. It will be a weekend thing, sort of like a festival. You'll have music, you'll have food, and then on Sunday, there's two to three thousand horses on this trail ride."

The music he refers to is Zydeco music, the kind he and his band will be playing Saturday night at the 22nd annual Long Beach Bayou Festival at Rainbow Lagoon Park downtown.

It's the music of those thousands of riders, most of whom are Creoles. And like the Creoles themselves, it's a mixture of almost every kind of sound the musician wants to make. "You have each artist creating their own style within the style," Simien said. "But it has the same basic form, with the accordion and the rub board as the lead instruments."

You could say Zydeco is a kind of German music. "You know, the Germans were the ones who brought the accordions to Louisiana," Simien said. But the accordion intermarried, like the Creoles.

Visit his Official web site.. Click Here
Related web site click Here


"I did a little genealogy on my family. And I'm part French, African, Spanish, Native American and German. The majority of the people in these different Creole communities around Louisiana are like that. It was one of the first places in the country where all these cultures came together and made families."

The unique subculture that has been around for more than 300 years flourished because the area started out under Spanish and French influence, rather than under the more race-conscious British. And since it was so rural, it mostly stayed under the radar

The unique subculture that has been around for more than 300 years flourished because the area started out under Spanish and French influence, rather than under the more race-conscious British. And since it was so rural, it mostly stayed under the radar

Creole musician Terrance Simien recalls when he first heard Zydeco music as a boy in Louisiana:

"I fell in love with it, hook, line and sinker."

until recent times.


"During my daddy's generation, up until the 1960s, the majority of the people were farmers, and they were pretty much a self-contained community," said Simien. "Each little farm grew its own crops, mostly with horses and mules, no tractors. There were big families - my dad had 15 siblings. And it was one man and one woman. This was a Catholic community."

It was the culture of Catholicism that unified the rainbow community. Things were starting to change when Simien was born in 1965, but mostly his people were still isolated. "You had the prairie and the swamp. We grew up doing a lot of hunting and fishing. It was mostly with relatives, because you were related to everybody.

"The boys would be together, and we would go catch bullfrogs and we'd bring a little frying pan, a little oil and some seasoning, and we'd build a little fire and fry frog legs. And we'd catch fish and fry them, and kill snakes and try to get a turtle or two. We'd have dirt fights and ride our bicycles and make up our own games. We didn't know any better, but we didn't need to know any better, because we had everything we needed."



Because of the mixed ethnicities, Simien's family and friends were all colors, from dark black to white white, like his mother. But all the Creoles worshipped together at the Catholic church in Mallet, not even a town, but a church parish between Opelousas and Eunice.


It was only when they went into town that strange things happened, such as the time when Simien was 4 or 5 and he was in a department store with his mother. "Oh mama, look, an Icee," he said, and ran toward the lunch counter.

"And she said, 'No, no, no, don't go there,' I can remember asking her why, and she couldn't really explain. How do you explain a white side and a black side to a kid who's 4 years old?"

And then there was school. "When I started school, it was the first year of integration," he said. "It was kind of weird." The weird thing wasn't the new white friends, because he already had whites in his family. "But you couldn't go spend the night at his house if you had a white friend."


Simien and his friends grew up listening to all the radio hits of the '60s and '70s. "I listened to a lot of music," he said. "I was into classical and jazz and folk music. I was kind of the odd one.

"The Catholic church we used to go to in Mallet had a benefit dance the first Friday of every month. That's where we heard the Zydeco. And when I started going to these dances with my dad, I fell in love with the music, fell in love with dancing to the music.

"Me and a few teenagers my age would dance together. I had my first slow dance to Zydeco music. I was about 12 years old. Man, that made you like the music even more. I fell in love with it, hook, line and sinker."

It was a music that was dying. "When I first started, it was me and one other teenage band in Zydeco music. And the rest of the guys were in their late 30s and 40s. There was a huge generation gap. But now you have a new band every year from the Creole community that wants to play this music." Simien's popularity is credited as being one of the major reasons for renewed interest in Zydeco.


If the show Saturday is anything like his latestalbum, "Live! Worldwide," those attending will hear an eclectic set. His voice is similar to Sam Cooke's and his songs are all over the place. Some sound like the Eagles and country rock, others are reggae. All the things he heard on the radio growing up, and some newer influences, are on display.

Simien points out that this is right in line with his predecessors. "One Zydeco tradition, if you really research the history of the music, is to be an artist, to create more than imitate, and that's the approach I take. If I feel something, and I want to apply it to what I do with my traditional music, I'm going to do it."

Just like the Creoles of the past, he's still going his own way.

Al Rudis, (562) 499-1255,


Sent: 6/22/2008 7:37:51 A.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: Music of Creoles





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