Mardi Gras comes to Minnesota

Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience show the Land of 10,000 Lakes some Cajun love.

Kelly Holm, Reporter

The frigid temperatures outside might leave some Minnesotans feeling down in the dumps, but two-time Grammy award winners Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience quickly provided a Cajun cure for cabin fever. The New Orleans-based band, who have appeared on the soundtracks to high-profile films such as The Big Easy and Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, put on a spirited show at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Simien kicked off the performance with a rollicking version of Curtis Mayfield’s 1971 soul hit “We Got To Have Peace,” exuberantly setting the tone for a lively rest of the concert.

Taking advantage of the fact that it was the weekend before the holiday otherwise known as “Fat Tuesday,” he made sure to toss plenty of beaded Mardi Gras necklaces out into the crowd, just like it would be done at a parade during New Orleans’ biggest celebration.

Meanwhile, the dance floor began to fill up. At first only one couple had their turn spinning across the empty space, but as the tune got livelier, more concertgoers began flocking down to follow their lead.

“That’s all we need, y’all, is peace and love,” Simien triumphantly said as the opener’s final notes faded away.

Simien and his band weren’t strictly soul, however. Roots-infused covers of hippie-era hits such as the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” were capable of bringing out the ‘60’s nostalgia even in attendees born long after that decade ended.

Feisty solos on the keyboard, drums and guitar, performed by Danny Williams, Keith Sonnier and Eric Johanson, respectively, entertained the audience while Simien stepped away from the microphone, usually to grab more Mardi Gras beads.

As the concert wound down, Simien revealed a softer side, belting out a heartfelt rendition of “Amazing Grace” before launching into a gospel medley.

Simien broke the barrier between band and audience one last time by asking the crowd to sing along to a sultry, saxophone-laced rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Joining in with the chorus created a rare and final moment of unity, despite everyone being total strangers.