Terrance Simien

Terrance Simien
Across The Parish Line

AIM Records

By Art Tipaldi
July 2007

Once you leave New Orleans and head South on I-10, the music that thrives in the tiny towns that dot the bayous is nothing like the slick tourist music on Bourbon Street. Here, zydeco, with its accordion, rub-board, fiddle, and percussions light the dance halls, and Terrance Simien is one of its brightest stars.

Terrance Simien and The Zydeco Experience offer a 15-song, musical postcard from Cajun country that simply reads: "Haviní a wonderful time, wish youíd been here."

For 25 years, Simien has been at the forefront of the new generation of zydeco artists who are bringing Cajun rhythms to enthusiastic younger audiences. Whether youíve caught him crowd surfiní at Jazz Fest or youíve swayed to the sweet harmonies that he and Danny Williams capture on record, Simien is one talent not to be missed.

The songs here are part current reflection on Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath, and part nostalgic snapshots colored by the music Simien has recorded in the past. Led by Simienís prominent accordion lead, the disc opens with "You Should Know Your Way By Now," a song that celebrates the Creole heritage throughout southern Louisiana.

As a self appointed ambassador of Creole culture, Simien writes and performs other traditional tunes like "Ta Pa Gonne Avec Ca," (loosely translated as "Iím not goiní with that.") Simien ends the disc with a bonus track dance mix of this tune suggested by Simienís daughters and worked out by Chad Fouquier.

Simien also includes some gems from his past work. As a young accordionist looking for a break, Simien found that break with Paul Simonís Graceland sessions in 1985. "You Used To Call Me," is a Cajun waltz he recorded with Simon singing harmony from those sessions. With only 500 45s pressed, Simien felt obligated to give his loyal fans this pearl.

That same year, Simien recorded "Closer To You," for the soundtrack of the movie, The Big Easy. After his performance in the movie as, guess what, an accordion player, Simienís career took off.

In 1987, Billboard named Terrance Simien and the Mallet Playboys as one of the Top Ten Performance Acts. Even today, that untamed hair flying, his barefooted flinging of beads to the crowd - or stage diving - has allowed Simien to continue his mission of spreading his traditional zydeco to young audiences around the world.

Throughout his career, Simien has also set a goal to combine world music with his indigenous music of rural southern Louisiana. In that respect, there is also Simienís reggae flavored take on Taj Mahalís "Corinna," featuring Simienís artistic mixture of his forte, zydeco, with the music of the West Indies - reggae.

When Simien thinks music, he thinks the world, not just southern Louisiana. "Dance Everyday," dynamically combines African rhythms with reggae and zydeco. And "Como Vivire, Mi Cholita?" brings in David Hidalgo to combine the Cuban music of Cubaís Pedro Luis Ferrer with the zydeco of Simien.

One of Simienís most important musical influences is Bob Dylan and The Band. Here, he includes Dylanís recent "Mississippi." Then, he substitutes New Orleans in Katrinaís wake to add poignancy and a quietly beautiful "Twilight," first recorded in 1999 with Rick Danko and Garth Hudson.

Simien is more than just a party guy flinginí beads from the stage. His pleading tenor can light the darkness as tenderly as a backyard candle in remote bayous. Songs like "Closer To You," "Always On My Mind," with Marcia Ball; and Randy Newmanís "Louisiana, 1927," the current anthem to the Crescent City after Katrinaís devastation, show off the tender side of Simien.

Any party with Simienís soulful vocals, infectious Cajun rhythms and Creole culture is enough to roll the rug back and start two step-iní in the living room.



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