BB King was the star of 2015 Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival

By George Miller

Yes, you read that right. This year’s festival was another rompin,’ stompin’  event, as always. But a true giant of The Blues passed on very recently, at 89 after a long, wonderful career pleasing  millions. The legendary BB King was honored by every single Blues group we saw perform. All had some form of tribute for him, in words and melodies. So he definitely lives on, in our hearts, minds and performances by his musical brothers and sisters. For us, he’s immortal.

BBKing

We checked in Sunday, for the music, food, drinks and many merchandise booths. We were hoping to attend the Saturday event, too, but a surprise LA stopover by a dear South African friend en route to an Aspen astrophysics conference changed those plans. But, Sunday was NOT a disappointment.

Here was the Sunday program:
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RevTallTree

Reverend Tall Tree at Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, 5-24-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

While we enjoyed Reverend Tall Tree group, Candye Kane was amazing. This poor gal has been fighting off pancreatic cancer for six years, said she just got out of the hospital yesterday, but the little trouper – with her excellent band- showed up and belted out some really good stuff.  Candye actually sounds funkier over time and infirmity. They say that hardship really brings out the blues- I guess it must be true. But I hate to think that her misery increases our listening pleasure.

Candye Kane

Candye Kane at Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, 5-24-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

They did some really neat stuff, including “I’m the reason why you drink,”  “I put a hex on you,” “I’m a white trash girl” (From NorthEast LA, yet), and “I’m a superhero” -written after her first cancer surgery, one might  suppose to celebrate surviving. She had a really good audience rap about her tough life- poor, struggling, abused, diseased- the stuff that Blues are made from.

Guitar Shorty did proud, too. They honored BB King with a really rousing “The thrill is gone.”

Guitar Shorty

Guitar Shorty at Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, 5-24-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

Big Brother and the Holding Company is a name from the distant past- we’re talking 1960’s. There has been considerable staff turnover, but the corporate name and spirit lives on. Their lead vocalist Cathy Richardson really makes the group, although the three part harmony with two other (male) singers is really pleasing and the instrumentals are tight and solid.

Sung in the style and arrangement of Janis Joplin, “Take a little piece of my heart, baby” gave me goose bumps and was my undisputed favorite of the day- my wife’s, too (older version– sounded Better Today – see what I mean?). Cathy was not quite as throaty and funky as ‘ole Janis in her heyday, but her electric energy, range, power, clear and more feminine voice was awesome.

BigBrotherHoldingCo

Big Brother and the Holding Company at Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, 5-24-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

Gospel song “Show me the way to go home” was also lovely. Interesting historical note: one of the band members said that BB King opened for Big Brother and the Holding Company for about a month in 1968. The band members thought it should have been the other way around. They said they were there one night when King told the audience that Martin Luther King had been assassinated that very day.

 

Here was the Saturday program:

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I would say that almost every single act we saw by itself was probably worth the price of admission. Where else can you get a deal like that? Especially with no cover and no minimum.

Let me not neglect the Cajun side of the festival. The event is actually two complete festivals- Cajun & Blues- which just happen to share the same management, venue, staff and vendors- and this synergy has worked superbly well. It has also attracted fans of each side to appreciate the other’s music. There were 10 sets on Saturday and 11 on Sunday- an embarrassment of riches for music fans.

Magnolia Sisters

Magnolia Sisters at Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, 5-24-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

The trouble with a big two stage event like this is that you can’t be at both similtaneously. The plan was to spend more time at the Blues stage, ’cause we’re Blues kinda folks, but we spent almost ALL our time there, or glomming food and drink. But our visits to see Cajun/Zeydeco were worthwhile. The huge, shady table seating area was also very nice. We noticed that the sweet-sounding Magnolia Sisters were invited to play both days- and we could see and hear why. Also, Dwanye Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers was not only playing on both days, but on BOTH the Cajun and Blues stages. In between acts, a Zydeco instructor was training the masses in the art of dance on an enormous wooden dance floor. But, alas, I proved inept, shuffling left instead of right at the wrong  times.

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There was a wide selection of authentic looking Cajun food– and what we tried was quite tasty- Louisiana crab cakes and also hot links with dirty rice. The Italian brain freeze was tasty and good for warding off the effects of the hot sun. If you go next year (Memorial Day weekend), don’t forget a hat and sunblock – and a chair, unless you purchase VIP seating tickets.

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One of tyhe places we ate at Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, 5-24-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

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We’re glad that the management of Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, 5-24-15 understands that this event would not even be possible without those who made the ultimate sacrifice . (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

 

Rides

The kiddie section had nice rides and games.

The bubbles were most poular, witha long line to get in:

Bubbles

Most popular kiddie attraction at Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, 5-24-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

 

Climbing tower

Climbing towerThis was what was promised: https://citizensjournal.us/26th-annual-simi-valley-cajun-blues-festival-may-23rd-and-24th/

So, fans, did they DELIVER or what? We thought so.  People, this festival is a gem and the ticket prices are a bargain.  Don’t miss it next year. Disclosure statement: they gave us free tickets, but it really IS good- cross  my heart.  Thanks to the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise. I don’t know how they do it.

 

Clips from past festivals- download and play!

These brief clips may or may not play for you ….

Download Cajun video clip: IMG_1317

Download Blues clip: IMG_1331

Download Hot Sauce by Dennis Jones clip:IMG_1311

Download Star Spangled Banner (Audio): IMG_1306

 

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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