HAMMOND, LA (WVUE) - It's a little bit of rock-n-roll, a lot of country with a good sized helping of gospel. For more than a decade, a Hammond musical theater has been filling its seats with a mostly older crowd that enjoys hearing their kind of music.
Once a month, the Reimers Theater in downtown Hammond is filled with sounds of gospel, bluegrass, old-time country and even a little rock-n-roll.
"These people can sit and reminisce of these old songs that they heard when they were children coming up," Jake Drude said.
It's a variation on an old-time musical opry as different singers take the stage and entertain the crowd with a few
favorites. The musical talent is all volunteer. Nobody gets paid, although donations are encouraged to help pay the concert expenses.
"If he's looking for money, he's not coming there, i.e. he's looking for fame, he's not coming," Drude said. "If he's looking for people and enjoying himself, it is a very rewarding program."
Drude began producing these monthly concerts 13 years ago. Now he does the odd-numbered months, and L.D. Barringer does the even months.
"And I think we need a venue for young people to come up into the gospel singing and bluegrass singing," Barringer said. "There's not a lot of venues for that because people, you have to be pros in order to get to the venues that are available to them, and how you get there without experience? How do you get there without exposure?"
This musical theater was built by the Reimers family as a memorial to their son who was lost at sea in World War II. You will find a memorial to Navy Lt. Frederick Reimers when you step inside the theater entrance. On some nights, the crowd comes early for a potluck or catered supper in the rear of the theater. Then they fill the auditorium for two hours of music that leans toward the spiritual and traditional.
"You know what's the greatest feeling for me as a musician - and I feel assured that anybody that's out here - is when I do a gospel song and I see somebody reach their hand up to the Lord.
At times, the show can feel a bit like a church revival. But these musicians know their audience, and that's what keeps them
coming back every month to the Reimers Theater.
The next show at the musical theater in Hammond is Saturday July 11 at 6:30 p.m.