jamming to old time music
Once a month the West Baton Rouge Museum hosts a gathering of musicians and those who enjoy listening to a jam session featuring “old time music”. And old-time country tunes seem to dominate the playlist.
playing old songs at the west baton rouge museum
A half dozen musicians sit in a semi-circle inside an air-conditioned meeting room at the West Baton Rouge Museum on a hot August afternoon. When the weather cools, they sometimes use an old Juke Joint that’s among a collection of old plantation buildings on the grounds of the museum in Port Allen, Louisiana. On this Sunday, the crowd is small. But jam leader Kent Louque tells me that they have had as many as 34 musicians strumming acoustic guitars, fiddles, mandolin, string bass and singing at the monthly Second Sunday Jams. Louque leads the group through a catalogue of old songs. And he favors old country tunes from the early to mid-20th century. He tells me that attendance is still rebounding after cancellations due to COVID.
old time jam session featured on tv
New players are encouraged to join in. Louque says, “It’s for all musicians at any level. I encourage that,” he adds, “because I want to see the better guys come so I can learn from them.” And most of the songs only use basic chords, so even beginners can strum along. In addition to the second Sunday Old Music Jam Session, a Cajun Music Jam Session is held on the third Sunday of the month. Check out the West Baton Rouge Museum Music Schedule.
The sugarcane museum
This museum has earned the nickname of the Sugarcane Museum because many of its exhibits feature the history of the West Baton Rouge Parish sugar industry. One of the main attractions is a large, electric-powered model of an old mechanized sugar mill. With the push of a button, the gears turn and conveyor belts move to give visitors a sense of how sugar mills functioned more than a century ago. The model is also a part of history. “It was made for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis,” museum educator Andre St. Romain tells me. “There was a pavilion there dedicated to the sugarcane industry and the big attraction was the model,” he adds.
blacksmith in the barn at west baton rouge museum
Blacksmith Ben Deshotels occasionally works in an old red barn behind the museum. He hammers pieces of hot metal into various decorative shapes. Deshotels shows me how he hand-cranks the bellows and heats metal rods until they glow a bright red-yellow. Then he twists and hammers the softened metal into a new shape. “I usually aim for a yellow color,” Deshotels explains, “which is about 18-hundred degrees Fahrenheit.”