Heart of Louisiana: Ragley bluegrass - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Heart of Louisiana: Ragley bluegrass

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They gather in groups under trees and in the shade of an old shed. They mix country and bluegrass with coffee and conversation. It happens the second Saturday of every month at the Lone Pines RV Park near the small town of Ragley. Park owner June Reeves and her husband Mancel made a musical discovery about 20 years ago.

June Reeves says, "We were invited to a bluegrass festival like back in the mid-90s. And the first time I heard them announce a tree day festival, I turned to Mancel and said who could stand this music for 3 days. But it kind of grows on you."

Now, June sings and plays the fiddle, the upright bass, piano and organ. Her musician friends range from casual players to professionals like fiddler Ron Yule.

Yule says, "I'm not gonna play unless I'm having fun. Most of the people - I think I find this a lot with the older people, and that's who plays this music - they play it just as a diversion, they're tired of TV, they're tired of sitting around and their joints hurting and they just play, when you're doing this, you're not thinking about that."

These jam sessions start around lunchtime. And by five in the evening, the musicians are ready for a country and bluegrass stage show.

Different combinations of fiddlers, guitar players and a bass take turns performing for the locals who drop by for some pot luck dinner and old time music.

A.J. Shirley says, "I like that fiddle playing – fiddle and banjo playing."

Slim Alston says, "We still have good country music."

Alston is the emcee who lines up the players for the show and then gets out of the way of the music.

Alston says, "It's dedication for the people because these guys come and play for nothing."

The players who've been around for a while say there used to be bluegrass jams and festivals all over Louisiana. Some of those are gone now. And that's what makes a place like this special. After 20 years, people still have a place to play and enjoy their kind of music.

If you want to play, they welcome all skill levels at the second Saturday of the month jam in Ragley. Or you can hang out and listen to some authentic bluegrass music.

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