Heart of Louisiana: Willie’s Campground Jam

Heart of Louisiana: Willie’s Campground Jam

WASHINGTON, La. (WVUE) - It’s a small campground in a small historic Louisiana town but the place comes alive once a week when musicians gather on stage.

Jenny Slyder and her boyfriend have toured nationally as the musical duo Kit Schicker. But on Wednesday nights, they are headlining a musical jam session at Willie’s Campground in the town of Washington, Louisiana.

Jenny manages the campground and tends bar and her boyfriend Ian Falgout signs up musicians to join the band on stage.

“We kind of keep it open for anybody, all skill levels, all genres of music. So you get this conglomerate of amazing music that happens,” says Slyder.

Players rotate in and out of the band throughout the evening. It’s a free-wheeling pot-luck kind of show.

“You could have a heavy metal group plan and then someone with a Cajun fiddle who gets up and wants to play along with them,” says Falgout.

I’m wondering if you have a lot of regulars who normally show up who were experienced layers and they do their thing or is it a situation where if I’m not that good, if I don’t have a lot of confidence, I’m still welcome to sit in with the group.

“It’s a combination of pretty much all of those,” says Falgout. “We have a regular set of people who come in. They play, they just sing. Some people sing karaoke, but we’ve gotten them to come up on stage and play with a band. They’d never done that before.”

Troy Albury works at the Lake Charles area chemical plant. Tonight, he drove two hours to join the Campground Jam for the first time.

“You find yourself consumed with long hours, hard days at work and no days off. And without music in your life, once you are a musician, it gets monotonous,” says Albury.

In the small town of Washington, Willie’s Campground is the neighborhood bar that provides a few hours of mid-week relaxation and music. And this takes place in one of the oldest and most historic settlements in Louisiana located on Bayou Courtableu.

“This was a port that connected to New Orleans and it was all through the steamboat until the rail system came in,” says Jan Terhune.

Terhune is helping to plane events as Washington celebrates its 300th birthday this year. It’s a community that’s packed with 200 historically significant buildings.

“The history in the buildings and it’s beautiful. It really is,” says Terhune.

From hitting a few hotlicks on the saxophone to playing the tambourine, the music draws more players to the stage.

“And then next thing you know, they’ve raised their skill level and their experience level just by coming to a simple jam night,” says Falgout.

This campground becomes a gathering place for friends old and new who find harmony here on a Wednesday night.

The jam sessions at Willie’s Campground in Washington begin at 7 p.m. every Wednesday night.

For more information visit cajuntravel.com/venue/willies-campground.

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