The Simi Valley Cajun Creole Music Festival (with a BLUES infusion) By: Casey Reagan

Posted on 7/18/2010 by MusicUCanSee

The Simi Valley Cajun Creole Music Festival
(with a BLUES infusion) By: Casey Reagan
for American Blues News
Simi Valley, CA.
May 30-31, 2010

This festival is being (unofficially) re-named by me to: The 'Steamy' Valley Cajun Creole Music Festival because it
was hot, and I'm not just talkin' about the weather. Even though it was an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon, that is, if there is such thing as seasonably warm, when it comes to the Simi Valley, but as May days go, this one was a gorgeous day by any standards, when I arrived at the Simi Valley Recreation Complex where this event is held annually. This wasn't my first time around for this festival, but for me, it was one of the best so far.
The festival is always well planned and nicely organized by a team of very cool people. The Cajun Creole Music Festival, as it is known, now in its 21st year, has evolved since it started out in 1988 as a New England Clambake fund-raiser for the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise. The 'Blues Infusion' portion of the event coming on board for the past 5 years and getting bigger each year, The biggest sponsor of the blues here were the guys in the Delta Groove tent where they had answers for all my music questions, very cool cats. (see photos below).
This year was no different, and with all the activities and sheer size of the event, having live Cajun, Zydeco and Blues entertainment on multiple stages, more than 150 food, beverage, craft and sponsor booths, and being attended by 15,000 people, that is surely saying something!
It was easy to remember it was Memorial Day weekend with the numerous American flags proudly flying and the centerpiece of the venue, reminding us of why we were there. 100% of the Festival profits are donated in support of charitable, educational and humanitarian causes. The Simi Valley Cajun Creole Music Festival has resulted in total charitable donations in excess of $1,000,000.

With 3 music stages this festival is harder for a photographer to cover than the Barnum and Bailey Circus, so I focused my attention on the Blues stage, where even there I got so involved with the backstage goings on I completely missed the live photo ops while the headliners The Mannish Boys and Elvin Bishop were on stage and by the time I made my way back around to the stage they were finished and I missed them back stage as well, soooooo how about those supporting acts eh?
BLUES STAGE Line-Up for both days:
Sat May 29th
The Insomniacs
Los Fabulocos Featuring Kid Ramos
Arthur Adams Band
Hollywood Blue Flames
Jackie Payne – Steve Edmonson Band
The Soul of John Black

Sun May 30th
Kirk Fletcher Band
Lynwood Slim / Igor Prado
Mike Zito
Candye Kane with Special Guest Bob Corritore
Elvin Bishop
The Mannish Boys

I wasn't around for Saturdays activities, I had another festival to cover the same weekend (link to santa clarita fest) but you can see my coverage of Kid Ramos with the 44's here: [link to 44's interview]
Candye Kane, Mike Zito and a host of others were on hand to warm up the crowd for my new old favorite Elvin Bishop, then The Mannish Boys who all sounded amazing by the way and are again on my radar as some of the top blues performers out there. I know, I know, it took me long enough. Gee, I wish I had pictures for you. Next time for sure.

This event is as much about the food as it is the music as evidenced by the variety and number of food tents and the unique food they were serving. You could get authentic Thai food and right next door... all the alligator you could eat, and I did! My 'girlish figure' will suffer but that's just one of the hazards of this job and a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

There were more things to see than I had time for but when I saw the 'Hat Guy's' from Shady Hut Hats I had to stop in and say hey. Mel, his wife Jeannie and son Steve are the west coast authority on everything hats, and Mel knows his craft (He's been at it for years) and sales too I might add, Mel sold me a new fedora to replace one I've been wearing to concerts for about 35 years and he made sure my new hat was brushed, stretched and custom fit before I walked away, talk about service!

I mentioned the three stages of music and I'll give you an idea of how much activity there was at this festival by omission and by only mentioning briefly the 'kids' stage where local teen bands performed, it was the Second Annual Kid’s Talent Show over in the Cajun Kids Area. Local children 17 years old and under showed off their talents then the audience picked the winner. Preliminary rounds were held Saturday and Final rounds were performed Sunday. I didn't get all the details but it looked like everyone was having fun. And the 'Zydeco' stage where the majority of the musical attention was focused this weekend as well as a bunch of sideline activities to entertain us between acts...

And all the accordion music you could ask for, if Zydeco is your thing, this is the festival for you. Here's the line up for both days:

Sat May 29th
Theo & the Zydeco Patrol
T-Lou and the Super Hot Zydeco Band
Lisa Haley and the Zydecats
Cajun Kids Parade
Cedric Watson
Pine Leaf Boys

Sun May 30th
Bonne Musique Zydeco
Cedric Watson
Cajun Kids Parade
Lisa Haley and the Zydecats
Rosie Ledet

Everywhere you turned there were a bunch of people having a good time enjoying their favorite music or food, or both. I walked past a herd of tuba players lugging their instruments toward the kids stage, so I'm guessing there was some jammin' going on over there too. It looked busy every time I glanced toward the kid zone and there were plenty of kids to enjoy the day, with rock climbing, those bungee bouncy thingys and every bounce house from SpongeBob to who knows who!

If you had the time to look around for something, chances are you'd be able to find it, from cell phones to sports gear to houseplants, there were vendors selling everything from clothes, purses, crafts and pottery, to jewelry, toys, posters and hats, homemade salsas and super hot hot sauce to salt water taffy... and people buying it too, I talked to bunches of them, buyers and sellers and found people to be spending a little and sharing a lot. I didn't hear of any trouble and I'd have to check with the organizers but I think its safe to say, everyone survived!

After a long day in the sun, I kicked my feet up and enjoyed some of the best live blues I've had the enjoyment of hearing in quite awhile. When it was all over, I packed my cameras, my new hat, my old hat, a ton of music paraphernalia, a plant I bought for my girlfriend and hiked back to the car, already having fond memories of a Sunday well spent. I'll be back next year Simi Valley, count on it, only next year I'm ridin' with this kid...

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

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