Prepare to Time Travel Through Louisiana’s Version of the Grand Ole Opry

Country music fans will find plenty to like in this massive music collection.

/Bear Family Records

Album Review

Various Artists
At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight
Bear Family

Bear Family Records

The massive collection At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight, which offers more than 25 hours of music on 20 discs, is obviously not for the casual listener. But it’s a fascinating archaeological dig. Based in Shreveport, the “Louisiana Hayride” radio show was a more rural and less-polished competitor to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, but it didn’t lack for talent. Among the 167 artists featured on the more than 500 tracks, recorded from 1948 to 1960, are such giants as Elvis Presley (a whopping 15 cuts), Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash, as well as longtime country stars like Kitty Wells, Faron Young, George Jones, and Wynn Stewart. There are amazingly few duds. Combined with an enthusiastic live audience that adds an extra shot of energy on many tracks, the occasionally rough but always listenable recording quality heightens the sense of immediacy, making this intriguing set the next best thing to a trip in a time machine.