Home /  Louisiana Haywire On the Airwaves
Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Louisiana Haywire On the Airwaves


Musicians Dan Garner and Winston Hall pictured with Louisiana Haywire co-producer Bonnie Summers.

Radio shows and podcasts highlight musicians’ stories

On a recent Saturday night, Shreveport musician Winston Hall finished a performance at Municipal Auditorium at 11 p.m. and was hanging out on the back steps of the historic venue.

Hall recognized the significance of the moment.

“I was thinking about the Louisiana Hayride because it also ended at 11 o’clock on a Saturday night. It’s highly likely Hank Williams hung out on these steps. Johnny Cash.

Elvis Presley. To me, the humanity of the artist is where the songs come from. So, when you hear Hank Williams sing ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,’ I can’t help but think he probably had moments in Shreveport where he was very lonesome.”

Not only does Hall appreciate northwest Louisiana’s musical history, but he also talks about it — and you get to listen. Hall and local musician Dan Garner co-host and co-produce Louisiana Haywire, a radio show and podcast highlighting artists and their stories. Louisiana Haywire airs every other Friday at 6 p.m. on Red River Radio’s affiliates, including KDAQ 89.9 FM in Shreveport. The next broadcast will be March 22. The Louisiana Haywire podcast can be found on YouTube and Spotify by searching “Louisiana Haywire.”

“I’ve known Dan and Winston separately,” said co-producer Bonne Summers, who spearheaded the project. “They are walking encyclopedias of the history of our musical heritage in this area. I put the two of them together, and it was like magic. I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we did a show?’ Then, it turned into ‘What if we did radio?’”

While Louisiana Haywire is a form of entertainment, it’s also a way to learn.

Robert Trudeau takes a time-out with Dan Garner and Winston Hall at Louisiana Haywire.

“We want to educate the world about the musical heritage of northwest Louisiana,” Summers explained. “In fact, to me, there’s rarely a genre of music that, somehow, northwest Louisiana has not been a heavy influence in. We’re talking not only country. We’re talking hip-hop, rap, classical music. It just goes on forever.”

During a performance, Hall does more than sing lyrics and play notes. He thinks about the history of the song and its songwriter.

“When I sit down at a piano, especially in Shreveport, and play a Hank Williams song — ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ or ‘Cold, Cold Heart,’ for example — I put myself in their shoes and think about them as people. If you don’t appreciate where the songs come from and the artists who produce them, you’re really not getting the song. You’re hearing it but not listening to it.”

Summers, Hall and Garner already knew a lot about our area’s musical past, but they also learned a few things working on the show.

“Elder Utah Smith was an evangelist who played electric guitar and did tent revivals and traveled the country,” Hall said. “He was an interesting character who would literally wear two wings when he preached — these big fake wings he had made. I found out that Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote a song together about him, and the song is called ‘Two Wings.’ In the song, Elton John mentions Cedar Grove. He mentions where Elder Utah Smith was born. When I heard Elton John singing about Shreveport, that just knocked my socks off. I couldn’t believe it.”

Hall knew of Estelle Brown’s history as one of Elvis Presley’s backup singers. But when Hall interviewed Brown for Louisiana Haywire, he learned something else about the singer.

“She said, ‘Well, I was on some other recordings with Atlantic Records.’ … She said, ‘I did the background vocals with my co-singers on “Brown-Eyed Girl.”’ That’s a song everybody knows. We’ve all sung it a million times. I listened to it again, and there she is in the background doing the famous Sha-la-la, la-la, la-la, la-la, la-la, la-la, la-la teee-da, and she lives in Shreveport.”

Shreveport has been accused of having a self-esteem problem. Hall believes Louisiana Haywire can help.

“To me, it’s a matter of civic pride,” Hall remarked. “We always compare ourselves to other cities. Especially when you’re in a state with New Orleans, you have to look at your own city and say, ‘What do we have that no one else in America or the world has?’ When it comes to that, to me, it’s always the music industry. From Lead Belly to the Louisiana Hayride to contemporary artists like Brooks & Dunn (Kix Brooks was born and raised in Shreveport) and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the music history that has happened here can rival any city in America.”

To learn more about Louisiana Haywire, visit redriverradio.org.


The Forum News