Ancestral Grooves Release

By Marcella Simien

Ancestral Grooves Release

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Liner Notes: 10 minute read.

Fact is, there are endless stories, many layers and deep meaning to all creative endeavors. Here’s a bit of our story in Five W’s + lagniappe (a lil extra). And fact is, we believe liner notes still matter. 

Who: Terrance Simien’s Krewe De Monifique* super group boasts a line up of some of the most notable and accomplished artists in American roots music today! Krewe De Monifique is 23 artists. 21 people of color. 4 women. One of these women who is co-producing, also gave us the title of the album. Yes, we know there should def be more women and we promise to do better next time – no excuses. But trust us, these 4 are warriors; mighty and fierce! In this Krewe there are also 7 multiple GRAMMY award winning artists and producers. There are New Orleans brass band and jazz legends, zydeco OG’s and some of the baddest emerging artists all lending their extraordinary skills to these songs. And where there is music, there is love and where there is love, there is family – and we’ve got that fam thing goin on here too y’all! Terrance’s daughter, James’ cousins and nephews, and Keith’s siblings are all contributing to these ancestral grooves.

What: A first of its kind, explosive collaboration of zydeco and New Orleans brass band; the Black roots music of our African American and French speaking Louisiana Creole ancestors. Original songs and stellar covers that connect the Black and multicultural Creole culture, history and music heritage of of rural South Louisiana and New Orleans. Just an FYI,  Terrance has had horns on tour and in his band for several years now, making this an even more natural collab. 

Separately these genre’s are dynamic and define the cultural and musical identity of the South. However, we all know that together we are better, and together these Black roots genres are next level better!

When: It all began in January 2019 originally as a Terrance and Keith Frank (Zydeco Boss) collaboration. A few months later on April 24th we pivoted. That pivot happened backstage – at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation 50th Gala in NoLA where Terrance and James Andrews (AKA Satchmo of the Ghetto, 12 or Shorty’s big bro!) both performed. The seed was planted by James would fuse zydeco and brass band.  Shortly after, hey all got to work. However, in the fall of 2019, we put things on hold after the sudden death of Terrance’s father in September and less than two months later the loss of his oldest sister. He took some time to contemplate and meditate, grieve and spend time with family. 2020 came in with much hope and a renewed excitement for the future, an outstanding tour schedule and this project. James had a book about him that came out this year as well every artist who worked on this album had full work schedules and dozens of exciting projects happening. In February, pre-COVID, the recording process began.

Then the whole world paused. When it seemed safe to emerge, but still under the most extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic, the project was finally completed mid summer.

Where: Dockside Studio, Maurice, Louisiana; Race Street Studio (Leslie Smith’s place), New Orleans; Young Avenue Studio, Memphis, and additional studios in Chicago, Atlanta and at Raney Recording studio, deep down in Drasco, Arkansas! Recorded by Justin Tockett, Toby Vest and David Farrell and also mixed by Grammy award winning engineer, Farrell. Produced by Terrance Simien, Danny Williams, Dustin Cravins and Cynthia Simien.

Why: For the ancestors of course! Because we respect our past and understand our present and as we meet the moment of a global pandemic and a season of racial reconciliation the likes of which we’ve not seen since the Civil Rights movement, we felt compelled to reflect and give thanks for what we’ve got. As we continue advocate for real and sustained change, we don’t ever want to forget our ancestors for their invaluable contributions to the struggle; which was much greater than ours. Our musical ancestors struggled and sacrificed much for our progress. They were subjected to unthinkable discrimination and oppression, ignorance and hate. We are proud of the progress we’ve made in the US to advance gender and racial equality for BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color), but we know there is much more work to be done.

We also know that music inspires hope for a better world and our world is better because of the great men and women who came before us. We are here because of them. We are more enlightened and hopeful because of them, their message and their music.

And there’s one more reason why there is an Ancestral Grooves project – it’s because the energy and vibe these extraordinarily talented musicians brought from their own ancestors, and from their sweet souls into the studio – was just joyful and righteous, y’all!

The Cover Art of Ancestral Grooves.

Of course it’s all about the music! However, for us the visuals are also paramount. We are visual creatures, and before we even listen to a recording, we want to also be inspired by the visuals. So, as we approached this piece of the project, we did some soul searching. We knew we wanted an image that would show respect for the African American experience and struggle. And there it was – waiting for us in the Creative Commons, (When We Share, Everyone Wins ) via the  Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The photo is titled “The Only Original University Singers of New Orleans” Circa 1877-1897. Photographer, Edward W. Bogardus, New York, NY. Finding the perfect image did not come without its own struggle. We literally reviewed 100 or more images and discovered how challenging it was to even find photographs of African Americans from the late 18 and early 1900’s.  So, big thanks to Creative Commons!

Design by Andre Broussard with input on concept and design from Cynthia Simien. Andre’s work is greatly influenced by world famous artist/graphic designer, Milton Glaser. Thanks for the stunning cover, Andre. 

The Magnificent Krewe:

James Andrews (AKA 12, Satchmo of the Ghetto or Troy’s big bro), Keith Frank (AKA The Zydeco Boss), Marcella Simien, Danny Williams (AKA D), Stan Chambers, Lance Ellis, Ian Molinaro – Thompson ( AKA Youngblood or Ian MT), Curtis Watson, Anne Harris, Brad Frank, Jose Alvarez, Roger Lewis (Dirty Dozen Brass Band ), Jennifer Frank Ledet, George Receli (Bob Dylan), Shelton Sonnier, Dexter Ardoin, Revon Andrews, Edward Jackson, Bernard Adams, Glen Finister Andrews (AKA Buddha) Glen Hall, Tyreek Andrews. A world of thanks to all of these remarkably talented artists, for their support of this challenging project and their generous spirits. Big love to Krewe!