Southeastern Channel spotlights St. Tammany culture

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 Abita Springs Opry
by: Tonya Lowentritt

HAMMOND – The Southeastern Louisiana University cable access channel will profile a pair of cultural pillars in St. Tammany Parish in the latest episode of the travel show, "Northshore Gems."

The Abita Springs Opry and the St. Tammany Art Association are featured in the series' latest installment, which debuts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, on the Southeastern Channel. The Channel runs on Charter Cable 18 in St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes and Channel 17 in Washington Parish.

The show will continue to air on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday nights throughout the month of October.

"The Abita Opry and St. Tammany Art Association have long been cultural favorites of both locals and tourists in our region," said General Manager Rick Settoon.  "We think our viewing audience will enjoy this special behind-the-scenes look at their productions and events."

The Abita Town Hall is the scene where host Rob Moreau, Southeastern biology professor and director of the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station, takes his family to a night at the Abita Opry.

Moreau interviews Abita Opry founder and President Bryan Gowland, a former mayor of Abita Springs. Gowland explains how the Opry evolved over the years from the Piney Woods Opry, an exclusively bluegrass event.

The Opry now consists of a series of music concerts held six times a year with the mission of preserving and presenting Louisiana "roots" music played primarily acoustically in its original form. Its current thrust is old-time country, bluegrass and traditional southern gospel music. Native Louisiana Cajun, Zydeco, Irish, Dixieland jazz, blues and other forms of music are also featured.

In the segment, Moreau and his family enjoy the traditional "front porch warm up music" outside the town hall prior to the main event held inside. Moreau samples hot dogs, gumbo and bread pudding -- popular staples of the Opry -- while waiting for the musicians to begin.

Along with the several hundred in attendance, Moreau and family enjoy the sounds of main event bands like the Petty Bones, Creole Man, Pot Luck Cajun Band and Wasted Lives.

Finally, the host joins the night's musicians in an after-hours jam session at the Abita Brew Pub down the street from the Town Hall.

Also in the episode, Moreau treks to downtown Covington to visit the St. Tammany Art Association, founded in 1958 by a small group of civic-minded individuals dedicated to bringing art to western St. Tammany Parish. Today the association is an organization with over 800 members and serves as a catalyst for the arts, meeting the needs of emerging and established artists and providing arts education and exhibitions for the community.

"Northshore Gems" spotlights the annual "Spring for Art" event in downtown Covington, featuring artists, dancers, singers, painters and cooks. The program also focuses on the Art House on North Columbia Street, site of art gallery exhibitions, art studios and art classes.

Moreau talks to a number of local artists, along with art instructor Louise Johnson, an art education instructor at Southeastern, and Cindy Pulling, Art House coordinator and a Southeastern fine arts graduate.

Show footage reveals art classes for adults and children in mixed media, painting, drawing and ceramics.

Moreau also interviews Covington mayor Mike Cooper, who points out the association's importance in offering the arts and art events in downtown Covington contributing to the city's overall quality of life.

The Southeastern Channel has won over 200 regional, national and international awards in its 10-year existence, including nine Emmys and 34 Emmy nominations. The channel is viewed by a North Shore audience of 250,000 on Charter Cable and in 47 countries and 46 U.S. states via its live 24-7 webcast and video on demand at

CULTURAL MUSIC AT ITS BEST - The Abita Springs Opry, a cultural pillar of St. Tammany Parish offering Louisiana roots music, is featured on the Southeastern Channel's latest episode of "Northshore Gems." Also spotlighted in the program is the St. Tammany Arts Association. The show debuts on the channel at 7 pm. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and can be seen on Charter Cable Channel 18 in Tangipahoa, Livingston and St. Tammany Parishes and on Channel 17 in Washington Parish. It can also be seen on the channel's 24/7 webcast at


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