Heart of Louisiana: Old Music Jam

Live music jam sessions are faily common around south Louisiana, especially cajun music jams.
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 5:02 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2022 at 11:03 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Live music jam sessions are fairly common around south Louisiana, especially Cajun music jams.

But once a month, Jam at the West Baton Rouge Parish Museum in Port Allen features what they call ‘old time music.’

The songs all sound familiar, from old records or the radio, maybe the songs you or your grandparents enjoyed.

“It’s mostly acoustic guitars, banjos, mandolin fiddle every now and then we have a drummer triangle spoons wash boards,” said Kent Louque.

Musician, Kent Louque leads this monthly Old Music Jam session at the West Baton Rouge Parish Museum. It’s open to anyone who knows how to play or wants to learn. There are a lot of jam sessions around south Louisiana, but most of them are cajun music. This is old time music. What is old time music?

“My old time music is old country music, so we’ll do 19-20, 30-40 songs, and that’s my old time music. Some people may pick it up as bluegrass. Some people may pick it up as rock-and-roll old time music, but it turned into old time country music jam,” Louque said.

The old music just seems to fit this museum. I met Ben Deshotels in the barn, he’s here occasionally teaching the old art of blacksmithing.

“It’s not like making something on the computer, like a program or something like that. You actually get a sense of creating something real and you really feel how you move the metal,” Ben Deshotels.

He’s making a tool for a traditional cajun musical instrument.

“This is a tefere, or triangle, but I do need a baton for it to strike it. So that’s what I’ll be forging today. I usually aim for a yellow color, which is around 1800 degrees fahrenheit. Closed gives you a thud, and then you get a ding with it open,” Deshotels said.

The West Baton Rouge Parish Museum has the nickname of the Sugar Museum. Since many of the displays focus on the area’s sugar industry, you can press a button and see a working model of an old sugar mill.

“It’s a historical object in and of itself. It’s over a 100-years-old and it was made for the world’s fair in 1904, it was in St. Louis. There was a pavilion there, dedicated to the sugar cane industry and the big attraction in that sugar cane pavilion was the model outside,” Andre St. Romain said.

The museum has a collection of old buildings moved here from area plantations. The Stark housing for plantation workers, the enslaved people, and an old general store. But on the second Sunday of every month, it’s all about the old music.

“After what we’ve been through for the last few years, to get back out and meet people, greet people, enjoy their self, and be happy,” Kent Louque said.

These old songs have been making people feel better for a long, long time.

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