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Creole culture: Simien and band back in Orkney Springs

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Creole band Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience will perform at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival on Saturday night. Photo courtesy of Michael Weintrob

This weekend with the SVMF

• Bluegrass act Dailey & Vincent will perform for the festival at 8 p.m. Friday. Gates open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $34 for the pavilion, $28 for the lawn and $10 for children younger than 18.
• Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience will perform at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival on Saturday at 8 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $30 for the pavilion, $25 for the lawn and $10 for children younger than 18.
• Both shows are at Shrine Mont Camp in Orkney Springs.
• The free Creole for Kidz concert will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at 508 Piccadilly St. in Edinburg.
• For more information, contact the SVMF office at 459-3396 or at www.musicfest.org





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Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience will hold a free Creole for Kidz concert at 11 a.m. Saturday at Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation, 508 Piccadilly St., Edinburg. Courtesy photo by Photo courtesy of Michael Weintrob


By Josette Keelor-jkeelor@nvdaily.com

ORKNEY SPRINGS - Saturday night, Grammy Award-winning Creole band Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience will take the stage at Orkney Springs for the second time in their career, but on Saturday morning, they'll also host a free concert for families.

"They're kind of all things Zydeco," said Shenandoah Valley Music Festival Executive Director Dennis Lynch.

Lynch said the festival was unable to offer Simien's family show four years ago, so Lynch is excited to bring the show to the valley this year.

Simien, too, is looking forward to his return.

"It was really nice," he said of the last time the band came to the valley. "There was a lot of people, and people were there, just diggin' the music."

This year he and the band will have some new songs to offer the crowd, but the concert will be very much like it was last time.

"Just like the culture, we are a mix," Simien said by phone recently. "We fuse all kinds of stuff together. It's always been a fusion."

The free Creole for Kidz concert will take place at 11 a.m. at Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation, at 508 Piccadilly St., in Edinburg.

"This is our arts and education program that we've been doing for the last 13 years," Simien said. "We've had the privilege of reaching over a million kids around the world."
Simien described the event as "a show for kids to kind of educate them about the culture and Creole music."

"We make it fun, we get the kids involved," he said.

The program teaches about indigenous music of the black and multiracial French speaking Creoles of South Louisiana, according to promotional material.

Simien has made his career a tribute to his family history.

"My family's been in Louisiana since 1758," he said, adding that his heritage is French, Spanish, Native American, African and German, much like many of the descendants of the Creole culture, he said.

Through his music he also hopes to educate listeners on the history of Creole music.
He's also been working on a nonfiction book for students about Creole culture and Zydeco music.

His goal is to "let people know about the music and the food," he said.

"You can see that it's all influenced by these cultures. ... It's when it all came together ... is when all this stuff started to change," he said.

Family is just as important in the present as it has been in shaping his history. Simien's wife, Cynthia, is his business partner and manager.

"She's working with just us, so she can devote, she has more time to give ... and people really comment on that," he said of other promoters who find it very easy working with her.
"It's a very special, special thing for me," Simien said. "I don't know how I'd do it without her."

From a career so long, he said he has too many favorite moments to single out just one.

"There's been some beautiful moments." He has to pinch himself, he said, to make sure it was real.

"It's not an easy thing to do, because it can ... physically and mentally take its toll on you," he said. "To say you made it, it's more like you want to say you made it through."
Whatever happens in his career, though, he said he's happy to have had the opportunity to perform the music he loves.

He is not about to slow down now.

"I can do what I do until I die, now, and that's always been my dream," he said. "It's been 30 years this year. If I can be fortunate enough to play this for the rest of my life, I'll be happy. So much has happened in the last 30 years."

"I'm working on a new record," he said, which should be out next spring.

This weekend with the SVMF
• Bluegrass act Dailey & Vincent will perform for the festival at 8 p.m. Friday. Gates open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $34 for the pavilion, $28 for the lawn and $10 for children younger than 18.
• Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience will perform at the
festival on Saturday at 8 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m., and tickets are $30 for the pavilion, $25 for the lawn and $10 for children younger than 18.
• Both shows are at Shrine Mont Camp in Orkney Springs.
• The free Creole for Kidz concert will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation at 508 Piccadilly St. in Edinburg.
• For more information, contact the SVMF office at 459-3396 or at www.musicfest.org.






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