Terrance Simien will bring his band The Zydeco Experience to Socorro Oct. 22.
NMT PAS photo


Terrance Simien is passionate about his music. He will share that passion with Socorro when he brings his band, The Zydeco Experience, to New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center on Friday, Oct. 22, as part of the Performing Arts Series.

For the first time in a year and a half, PAS will hold a pre-show Night on the Bayou Social Hour, featuring a seafood boil for $10, a cash bar, and a chance to socialize with friends and neighbors. Tickets are available at nmt.edu/pas.

Terrance Simien has been sharing his passion for 40 years, introducing the Louisiana Creole sound to audiences around the world. In the process, he has won two Grammy Awards and numerous accolades. Perhaps just as important to him, he has brought awareness and distinction to the music style and his fellow musicians who promote the genre.

Many Socorro music fans saw Simien when he performed at SocorroFest. Many local children saw him at “Creole for Kidz” in Sedillo Park. Still more people have heard him through national music shows. Still, more people are aware of Simien through his work through his song “Gonna Take You There” in Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” movie.

In any case, you’ll know how addictive the music is. And how it just makes you want to get up and dance. Or dance in your seat if nothing else. He creates a hypnotic blend of New Orleans funk-reggae-flavored-world-blues-American zydeco roots music that beckons you to your feet and into the groove.

While clearly rooted in the Creole tradition, Terrance Simien also is an evolving artist who has changed the vocabulary of the genre by adding complex vocal harmonies, diverse repertoire and carefully crafted high-quality recordings.

As part of his passion he and his wife, Cynthia, recently worked for a Zydeco installation as part of the National Museum of African American Music. They also led a successful campaign to make the song “Southern Nights” by Allen Toussaint of New Orleans the state song – the first state with a state song written by an African American.

It is part of a continuing effort to advocate for their American roots. It’s also “a way of giving back to the music community, culture and state,” Cynthia said. “There is always work to be done, always someone new to educate about our music and culture, and we feel a deep responsibility to advocate for it.

“For years, we’ve also been leaning into the mission to raise awareness about diversity in the music industry and the performing arts,” Cynthia said. “As artists who are also POC, it’s very important that we be part of this broader conversation about DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion,” adding that they are appreciative of Ronna Kalish, Socorro’s PAS director, who “has always been mindful of this in her programming, and we respect her a whole lot for being a whole lotta righteous!”

Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience have shared the stage with Robert Palmer, Stevie Wonder, Los Lobos, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, The Meters, Alan Toussaint, Paul Simon and Dave Matthews Band, to name a few.

But it seems that no matter the accolades and awards, the artist remains unassuming. He says he is a huge fan of Taj Mahal, who once gave him advice and with whom he stays in contact.

“Taj and I meet up on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise when we were both scheduled to perform,” Terrance said. “I catch all of his shows during the cruise, and he even pops into some of mine. I’m a huge fan and always in awe of his presence, and his performances. And every now and then I get a call from Taj, and that really blows my mind; when Taj Mahal, one of my heroes—a giant in music; is calling me….”

The Simiens recently finished a new recording “Ancestral Grooves” with Terrance Simien’s “Krewe De Monifique” featuring 23 jazz and zydeco artists of all ages playing original songs and covers that connect the Black and multicultural Creole culture, history, and music heritage of rural South Louisiana and New Orleans.

Meanwhile, the band’s current tour brings them to New Mexico for three gigs before heading to the Northwest.

“Me and the band are really excited about coming back to New Mexico,” said Terrance Simien recently.  “(We) love the vibe, the natural beauty, the history and culture is so wonderful and unique. We are really grateful to have the opportunity to share our music and culture with your community.”

The show is sponsored by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory with funding support from New Mexico Arts and National Endowment for the Arts. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $5 for youth and free to New Mexico Tech students. For more information, visit www.nmt.edu/pas or call 575-835-5688.

Gwen Roath for NMT PAS