Review: The Music of Joe Simien

The Music of Joe Simien
by Lisa Haley & the Zydekats (now Z-Band)
Blue Fiddle Records, Carson, CA

Review by Dan Willging

Like so many postwar Louisiana Creoles, Joe Simien migrated to California for better opportunities. The accordionist never abandoned his music and hence became known throughout the left coast's Creole communities. He found a soul mate in fiddler Lisa Haley, teaching her not only his families' repertoire but also the finer points of showmanship. He meant so much to the Zydekats that just shortly after his passing, they dedicated this live recording as a memorial by playing his songs. Haley's lyrical fiddling has never sounded better, as if guided by something in the cosmos. She does a fine job in emulating Simien's high tenor voice, almost to the point where his spirit embraces hers. Likewise,the rest of the 'Kats give an outstanding performance on a night it must been difficult to carry on. -DW

Response by the musician:

This is a live album of the Century-old songs taught to me by my mentor, Joe Simien, from Lawtel, Louisiana. Recorded at a Cajun dance in South Pasadena, California, this CD includes the slight imperfections common to the "live" format... While not a commercial studio album, this is a very special live recording, which is its own animal in its own jungle.

"The Music of Joe Simien" was a very emotional landmark for me, and Dan Willging's review captures its spirit beautifully. Thank you, Dan.