Heart of Louisiana: DeRidder Bluegrass
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Bluegrass music enthusiasts gather once a month at the old train depot in the west-central Louisiana town of Deridder for a jam session.
You hear a mixture of train sounds and strings this Saturday morning at the Beauregard Parish Museum in Deridder. The monthly Bluegrass jam session attracts about a dozen musicians who like to strum a guitar, pick a banjo, or play the fiddle.
“I like the harmonies, especially the not perfect harmony. Number one is energy. There’s a drive in that music that drives the dancers, you should see,” said Ron Yule.
Ron Yule is one of the masters of the fiddle in Louisiana, and if there’s Bluegrass music playing, chances are he’s there.
Does Bluegrass really have roots here in Louisiana?
“Yeah. I think the first book ever did was on all the string bands that were in this area that played dances. Everything was acoustic, you know, and they played probably the same music we played today,” Yule said.
My favorite part of any jam session is when young people join in, they can sit side by side with musicians who have done this for a lifetime. That’s how the old songs and style of playing are passed on.
“The people that really excel at it, it’s in their soul. They can’t get rid of it,” Yule said.
This monthly open jam session is held on the third Saturday of the month in the old Deridder train depot that’s now the museum.
“It’s an old passenger train depot that was built in 19 26, 19 27, and so it was vacant for a number of years after the passenger train ceased, and it became the museum,” said Elona Weston.
This museum tells the story of the local timber industry that boomed when the railroad came to town in the late 18 hundreds. and you can explore how people lived their home furnishings, the old telephone exchange, and even a perm machine from a beauty parlor.
On one hand, I guess you don’t want to be the dumping ground through everything that’s in grandma’s attic, but on the other hand, you probably do.
“It’s a random mix in here. We have a lot from, like we’ve stated from our saw sawmill and timber history, but a lot from rural life. But this museum was really a community effort,” Weston said.
The Bluegrass and old-time country music help to tell this town story, where the tools of family life have become museum pieces and musicians. Even the older experienced players are still learning new songs.
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