NOTE FROM TEAM ZYDECO & TERRANCE: With the consolidation of media and the ever changing landscape of music, there are fewer dedicated music writers contributing to traditional print media. The Albany Times Union is owned by the Hearst Corp, one of the largest and diverse mass media corporations, but we gotta give em some love here b/c they did what is rarely done for our genre of music these days-an actual performance review. No less it was written by a seasoned, experienced and skilled music writer Greg Haymes who has been around b/c he written about us before throughout the years. Many thanks for this little gem Greg-many thanks my brother. T.S.
Review: Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience @ College of St. Rose’s Massry Center, 3/14/15
It’s Mardi Gras time whenever Terrance Simien takes the stage
By Greg Haymes
ALBANY — It wasn’t all shamrocks, green beer and “Finnegan’s Wake” around Albany on St. Patrick’s parade day on Saturday. Veteran singer-accordionist Terrance Simien and his five-piece band, the Zydeco Experience, blew into the Massry Center for the Arts at the College of Saint Rose on Saturday night like a warm Louisiana bayou breeze, tearing through a wide swath of zydeco variations and hearty dose of southern hospitality.
Mardi Gras rolled around on the calendar last month, but clearly every day is Mardi Gras with Terrance Simien, and he wasn’t even halfway through his upbeat opening selection when he put down his accordion, reached into a knapsack and pulled out a big handful of green, purple and gold Mardi Gras beads, which he gleefully tossed into the enthusiastic crowd. The band kept pumping out the infectious zydeco groove, Simien kept tossing out beads, and the audience kept shouting and clamoring for more. The barefoot Simien didn’t disappoint, throwing beads all throughout his two-hour show until it seemed as though nearly every person in the theater was wearing at least one set of beads.
Whatever barriers might have existed between the musicians and the crowd were immediately broken down, never to be erected again. Several times throughout the show, an audience member on the dance floor grabbed a spare rubboard from the edge of the stage, playing along with the band. And every time Simien brought them up on stage to join the band. It wasn’t a concert; it was a party in every sense of the word – which is not to say that the music was anything less than top-notch.
Led by longtime musical director-keyboardist Danny Williams (short of stature, but packed with talent), the Zydeco Experience chugged through Simien’s original zydeco gems (“All Her Lovin’” was a particular standout), several of which were sung in Creole French with no translation necessary other than Simien’s ever-present ear-to-ear grin. Along the way, they also paid tribute to reggae legend Bob Marley (“Stop That Train” and a heart-wrenching rendition of “No Woman, No Cry”), Rick Danko and the Band (the rousing final encore of “The Weight”) and the Jackson Five (an instrumental version of “I Want You Back”). Simien was at his most sublimely soulful on the first encore, a towering a cappella take on Sam Cooke’s classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” and a surprise slow-dance ballad rendition of Gale Garnett’s 1964 hit, “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine.”
The concert was billed as NOLA Fest, and Simien carried the Crescent City torch, digging right into the Mardi Gras Indian anthem, “Hey Pocky Way,” early on, as well as serving up a sprawling, show-closing New Orleans medley that mashed up “Iko Iko,” “When the Saints Come Marchin’ In,” “Brother John” and “Jambalaya.” Laissez les bon temps rouler, indeed…
Greg Haymes is a frequent contributor to the Times Union.
Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts, 1002 Madison Avenue, Albany
Length: Two hours – no opening act; no intermission
Highlights: The a cappella “A Change Is Gonna Come” and the rousing “Hey Pocky Way”
The crowd: Spanning at least three generations and filling about three-quarters of the theater