Cajun and Blues Festival Rocks Simi Valley

By Jake Tully

Serving as a small bastion of Cajun culture in the Greater Los Angeles Area, Simi Valley’s 28th Annual Cajun and Blues Music Festival was, as a our dear Nite Tripper might put it, “Desitively Bonnaroo.” Featuring infamous names from the realms of classic rock, zydeco, blues and everything cosmic in between, the festival was one of the most rollicking events that Simi Valley could provide.

Despite Saturday afternoon’s passing of veritable and honorary blues slinger Gregg Allman, the legendary Blues and Americana icons that the festival offered did not see their spirits hampered.

Dwayne Dopsie was among the first sets of the day, allowing the crowd to rejoice in a veritable zydeco set, replete with a washboard player and that Fat Tuesday feeling one just can’t shake.

Dopsie, of a full-fledged zydeco background kicked off Saturday’s events with what was quite possibly the most authentic set of the day, raising hell and playing with some of that good ol’ gris-gris.

Lazy Lester arrived in all his harp-slinging glory, spitting bars on the metal sandwich and dedicating his set to the recently departed Allman brother. Lester and his band took the audience back to the 50’s with his far-flung and long celebrated career, one of the last living true bluesmen of the seminal mid-century era.

The Yardbirds were a pleasant surprise and somewhat of a divergence from the other acts of the day, plugging into the mid-1960’s blues-infused and proto-punk stylings of one of the most important British Invasion acts.

Though Page, Beck and Clapton may have disassociated themselves with the group, original drummer Jim McCarty brought a thunderous sound to classics “Heart Full of Soul” and “For Your Love.” For the Yardbirds, the 1960’s garage sound is still very much alive and well in their live performance.

Many considered the highlight of the day to Robby Krieger, part mastermind and legendary guitarist of The Doors. Though many think to Morrison and Manzarek in relation to the avant-garde band’s talent, Krieger is just as valuable in the group’s history.

Having Krieger isolated on stage truly put his guitar prowess into perspective. One soon realizes what an enormous component of “Break On Through To The Other Side,” for example, Krieger played in establishing the otherworldly sound of The Doors. Krieger so effortlessly slung guitar on “Light My Fire” (a song in which he primarily wrote) and other Doors favorites as he snapped his way through the band’s catalogue.

Doug Kershaw helped closed out the night on Saturday, with the creole fiddle sound that simply cannot be topped. Kershaw, having played with an incredibly long list of familiar faces, is no stranger to the mantle of “World’s Best Fiddle Player” nor has his ability slouched in any way over the nearly 70 years he has been active.

Featuring indisputable legends all in their own right, Saturday’s Simi Valley Cajun and Blues Musical Festival certainly did not skimp on bringing a cultural influence not often seen in Southern California, while also providing an excellent gathering of some of the most intuitive musicians still active today.  |  fb

Jake Tully

Jake Tully

Based out of the San Fernando Valley, Jake is a LA transplant who is fascinated with the history and continuation of the Americana scene in Southern California. After moving down to the area to pursue a degree in Journalism from CSUN, Jake has found seemingly countless opportunities to find new music in the Greater Los Angeles area and the friendly disposition of the folks interested in the music. Jake enjoys going out in the field and chronicling the culture surrounding festivals and shows dedicated to keeping country music alive, but finds just as much solace in taking an evening to sit back and letting his vinyl collection wash over him. He believes there is a still a great deal of explanation to be done in order to help explain the divide between pop country and the bonafide music, and has made it one of his goals to entertain this notion through his writing.
Jake Tully

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