Heart of Louisiana: Arcadia Bluegrass

Heart of Louisiana: Arcadia Bluegrass
Updated: Aug. 8, 2017 at 8:36 PM CDT
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(WVUE) - If you want to hear some authentic bluegrass music, you need to head to Louisiana's hill country. Once a month, you'll find a devoted group of musicians at the train station in the North Louisiana town of Arcadia. It's also a town with a tie to one of the country's most notorious pair of outlaws.

The trains no longer stop at the old depot in the town of Arcadia, a small town that's known for its timber. It's also a place where, on the second Saturday of the month, musicians gather under the trackside gazebo and spend a few hours playing bluegrass, and there is the occasional farmers market.

"We have a lot of local producers, small people with small gardens, and everybody likes a reason to get together in Arcadia," said Chris Smith.

Arcadia does have a bit of history that attracts a few visitors. Arcadia claims to be the final resting stop for the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. The couple was ambushed and killed not far from here back in 1934.

"The bodies were actually left in the vehicle and the vehicle was towed to Congress Funeral Home, which was located just right across the street at the time," Smith said. "And that's where, if you see a lot of the old pictures, it shows crowds viewing the bodies, and that's exactly where it was located."

Some folks call bluegrass mountain music, and Arcadia is about as close as you can get to a Louisiana mountain. The highest point in the state, Driskill mountain, topping out at 535 feet, is located a few miles away.  Hikers can walk an easy mile-long trail to the top.

Debby Driskill wrote a song about the mountain and her memories of family reunions there.

"Our great-great grandfather is the one that came and settled on Driskill mountain," she said. "These were my ancestors were, this is where they farmed, this is where they grew up."

Jam sessions like this are places where the musicians can play their favorites and share songs they've picked up elsewhere.

"People just, they will go to jams everywhere, you know, and bring them back here when we tear into it," said Bobby Woodward.

Woodward helps organize the monthly get-togethers.

"We've had a lot of good musicians over the years," he said. "I mean, real good. Of course, trying to make a living at it would be a different thing."

Nobody here does it for money. They just enjoy playing and singing, and learning new songs, and spending time with old friends.

Those jam sessions are typically held at the depot in Arcadia on the second Saturday of each month. And if you are interested in Bonnie and Clyde, there is a museum in the nearby town of Gibsland and a roadside marker with the outlaw couple was ambushed and killed.

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