Heart of Louisiana: Bluegrass Jam
(WVUE) - 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.
"We were invited to a Bluegrass festival like back in the mid-90s, and the first time I heard them announce a three-day festival, I turned to Mancel and said, 'who could stand this music for three days? But it kind of grows on you,'" June said.
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.
"I'm not gonna play unless I'm having fun," Ron said. "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."
The 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.
Slim Alston is the emcee who lines up the players for the show and then gets out of the way of the music.
"It's dedication for the people because these guys come and play for nothing," he said.
The players who've been around for a while say they're 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.
All this week, there is a "camp and jam" at the Lone Pine in Ragley. The jam session runs through this Saturday, March 12.
Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.