DOWN HOME EATIN'

Actor/Singer John Schneider (left) snags a piece of hogshead cheese while talking with KAPB production manager/radio host Niles Laborde (center). Gatlin Kinman, 10, of Echo waits his turn. He has a model of the "General Lee" -- the car Schneider drove in "The Dukes of Hazzard" TV series -- in his other hand. {Photo by Raymond L. Daye}

John Schneider sings one of his latest songs during a radio show at KAPB in Marksville on May 9. {Photo by Raymond L. Daye}

Actor/singer John ‘Bo Duke’ Schneider praises parish for ‘embracing history’

In a career that has taken him around the world, this was his first visit to Marksville -- and John Schneider liked what he found here. “I love it here,” Schneider said. “What I noticed when I first got here is that history lives here. I like that.

“There has been a tendency in this country to tear down things and build new ones instead of re-purposing what we have,” he continued. “I love the fact that you have embraced your history or, rather, that you have allowed your history to embrace you.

“I wish I could stay longer,” he added.

Schneider, best known for his role of Bo Duke on the Dukes of Hazzard television series, was in town for an hour-long interview with Niles Laborde on KAPB Radio on May 9.

The interview went a little long, but nobody seemed to mind.

During an off-air break in the interview, Schneider asked if there were any old theaters with a stage that might seat 250-300 people.

He said he likes to play those small venues because he is closer to the audience. He is independently financing any performances on the road, renting the sites and paying his own expenses.

Although he has had four No. 1 country hits in his post-Dukes career, concert promoters seem less-than-interested in booking him.

“They don’t seem to like my music, but the audience does,” Schneider said, “and they are the only ones who matter.”

There were a few area residents allowed to sit in on the interview session and share boudin, cracklins and hogshead cheese with the star afterwards.

Troy Juneau of Moreauville won a contest on KAPB for the opportunity to spend time with Schneider at the Marksville studio. He was very glad he won.

“He was excellent,” Juneau said. “It was great. I was watching the Dukes of Hazzard when I was 11 or 12 years old and I really enjoyed this.”

Carla Desselle, who owns a nursery in Moreauville, is Juneau’s cousin.

“Troy asked me to come with him, so I snuck away from work for a few hours to come here,” she said. “It was very interesting. Listening to him talk about his shows and listening to his songs brought back memories of the good old days.”

Laborde, who is the KAPB production manager as well as mans the mike for his radio show, said it is “great to know there are artists and entertainers who will come by, get on the airwaves and just chat with fans.”

Cain Kinman of Echo and his 10-year-old son Gatlin were also in the small studio. Kinman was another winner of the station’s contest.

“I love it,” Kinman said. “His is the music we listen to.”

“It was awesome,” Gatlin said, clutching his toy General Lee. “I watch the Dukes on TV.”

Jube Normand is a musician who happened to have gone to school with the station owner, “so Niles asked me if I wanted to come by and, of course, I said yes.

“It was fantastic,” Normand continued. “I learned a lot of things about him that I did not know.”

Schneider, who lives near Baton Rouge, shared personal details about his life, his trials, his triumphs and -- of course -- about those rascally Duke boys that still seem to dictate how people see him.

Unlike some actors who grow to hate the character they can’t seem to shed, Schneider said he loves the Dukes of Hazzard. He is amazed at how audiences still love it in reruns.

Children whose parents -- maybe even grandparents -- were fans of the show when it aired from 1979-1985 are imitating the Duke boys' yells and playing with models of the General Lee car.

“The Dukes of Hazzard has not skipped a generation,” he said, noting that the comedy’s appeal across generations, to urban and rural, to North and South and East and West is a phenomenon he cannot explain.

He said he returned to his first love of music after the floods of 2016 dealt his film company a devastating one-two punch.

“In March 2016 we had a 100-year flood,” Schneider said. “It didn’t get in the house, but we lost everything in the studio.”

He rebuilt after that disaster “because I felt it (100-year-flood) would never happen again in my lifetime. I was right. In August we had the 1,000-year flood, and the water was in my silverware drawer.”

He said looking at 100-year-old pecan wood floors buckled and destroyed by the water and the total destruction of all he owned was hard.

“Unless it has happened to you, you have no idea,” he said. “It was awful.”

He said at least one good thing came out of that tragedy.

“Music came back into my life as a direct result of that,” Schneider said. “We recorded the Ruffled Skirts album in the middle of my living room that had been destroyed by the flood.”

While Schneider is sometimes recognized as Superboy’s earthly father, Jonathan Kent, from the Smallville series and, most recently, as James Cryer on the Haves and Have Nots on the Oprah Winfrey Network, he is also known for his work with Marie Osmond on behalf of the Children’s Miracle Network.

“Over the past 35 years, we have been raising money for children’s hospitals around the country,” Schneider said. “We have raised almost $6 billion.”

Schneider said he wants his songs to speak to people’s hearts. Some songs are silly and playful while others touch on the pain of loss suffered in lives.

“Songs should make you think and change you in some way,” he said.

As an example, he played a bit of a new song, “Let me buy you a beer,” in which the man in the song describes a U.S. soldier in uniform sitting in a bar.

The man in the song goes up to the soldier, thanks him for the sacrifice he made for this country and tells the soldier the next round’s on him.

“I guarantee you that after you hear that song, the next time you see a soldier in a bar you will find yourself going up to him and asking if you can buy him a beer,” Schneider said. “You may not sing it, but you will make the offer.”

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