Heart of Louisiana: Abita Opry

The town of Abita Springs celebrates its famous water and embraces the slower pace of a country lifestyle. And down the street on a Saturday afternoon, a front porch jam session is drawing a crowd.

The music on the front porch is just the warm-up. The real show takes place inside the old Abita Springs town hall.

They call it the Abita Springs Opry. And folks here have been enjoying this style of old-time music for the past 20 years.

"It's the ambiance, it's this hundred-year-old building, it's the quality of the musicians," says Bryan Gowland, a former mayor who produces the show.

Gayle Christenson and her friend Mel Cannon have season tickets, center stage and front row.

"The hardest thing of the Opry is staying in your seat and not jumping up on the stage," says Christenson.

"Go back of the curtain, they got food back here, gumbo, bread pudding, and all kind of goodies back there, which is why I like it too back there, with the food," says Cannon.

Steve Anderson leads the Abita Opry house band. "I guess a lot of people grew up on the music, you know, they heard it when they were kids, and we fill the house up every time we have a show."

It's a tight two-hour long show – four different groups each get 30 minutes to entertain the packed house. The mood shifts to rockabilly with the Abita Stumps, and the variety continues with a visiting act from Nashville.

"You're not going to hear it on the radio but I mean it ain't died out," says musician Leroy Troy. "If you want to hear this type of stuff, you just have to get out and go look for it."

"It's local, its Abita Springs, but they bring in acts from all over the world," says music fan Ethel Henderson.

It's folk, old-time country, bluegrass, a little rock'n'roll and a whole lot of fun. And it's the perfect fit for a small town that likes to keep things just the way they are.

You can go to the Abita Opry on the third Saturday of the month during the spring and fall. The next show is Saturday night, April 21.  For more information, go online to http://abitaopry.org.