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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Terrance Simien at the Jiggle Jam Festival, (Crown Center) Kansas City MO 5/30

Terrance Simien's enthusiasm for performing is evident all the time. But when he's in front of children during one of his specialty Creole for Kidz matinee shows, it's apparent he makes an extra special effort for the little ones. Zydeco music in Simein's experienced hands, it seems, allows anyone regardless of age to feel like a kid again. You can't help but be drawn in. This was the feeling when Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Express played the Jiggle Jam Festival in Kansas City on Memorial Day weekend. Encouraging kids to learn about another culture while having big fun is a win-win situation for all. With tales of his linage back to Africa and a word about his family's Creole roots in southwestern Louisiana Simien looked into the past while he continues to move the zydeco tradition forward. He accomplishes this by bringing an exuberant message of peace, love and zydeco to the young masses. Simien's hour-long set found him singing like Sam Cooke, playing his accordion like Clifton Chenier, and offering a brief musical history of New Orleans while extolling everyone to dance. With his gifts as an entertainer apparent, he is able to leave everybody smiling, dancing, and reaching for beads. A big part of this cross-cultural presentation is education; the telling of stories, origins, and histories. Simien willingingly shares with his young audience the story of Amede Ardoin, the first Creole/Cajun musician to record zydeco accordion, and about about how his people trace their roots back to Senegal Africa. It seems Simien was diversity long before it became a political term: his ancestors were French, Caribbean, African, and Native American. One of the highlights was long-time frottoir player Ralph Fontenot doing double duty by helping children--equipped with miniature rubboards around their little necks--on and off the stage after they'd had a chance to play along with the band. During the last portion of the show Simien performed a medley of hits from Crescent City artists like Dr. John, the Wild Tchoupitoulas (Mardi Gras Indians), and Fats Domino. Simien himself earned his keep on a muggy Sunday afternoon by relentlessly throwing multi-colored beads to all comers no matter size or age.

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