Luling native finds joy in performances for seniors and vets

Robbie Matherne

After more than 50 years of entertaining crowds with his voice and musical talent, Luling native Robbie Matherne has found a new outlet to share his passion and he wouldn’t trade it for the world.

On a regular basis, Matherne has been visiting places like the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve, Azalea Estates Assisted Living Center in Gonzales and Summerhouse Ashton Manor in Luling to sing and entertain the residents. He’s begun visiting the first two on a monthly basis and hopes to continue on at Summerhouse after an initial appearance in December.

“To see their smiles, it’s awesome, it really is,” Matherne said. “Every now and then, they get up to do a little dance. You see their faces and hear their stories, and they’re truly amazing people. One man is 94 and is a World War II veteran, another lady’s celebrated her 101st birthday … you just like to do whatever you can for them, and I can play music.”

Matherne began this new tradition initially at Azalea Estates, where his mother-in-law lives. It was suggested there that he begin playing in Reserve, and from there a date in Luling. Matherne has long made a part of his living through his performing skills, but he doesn’t charge – he called the opportunity a blessing.

“It’s just really heartwarming, knowing you might be giving folks a happy moment in their life. I find an awful lot of joy in it,” Matherne said.


Matherne’s first show was in 1969 – he was just nine years old. His parents had bought him his first acoustic guitar and learned to play his first song – Jambalaya. He began to play with three other musicians in Luling he knew as they formed the band The Young Dreamers. The Dreamers’ first gig was at a talent show in May of 1969, and from that date until 1977, Matherne played with the Dreamers. The Dreamers had an opportunity to play for President Gerald Ford during one visit to Louisiana and broke an attendance record on a riverboat show at the time. By the end, the band had expanded from its humble beginnings to have an eight-piece unit with five-piece rhythm and three-piece horn sections.

“We played a lot of parties, LSU and Tulane, different weddings and shows,” Matherne recalled of the Dreamers. “One year we had 2,600 on (the S.S. President Riverboat) and the captain said we couldn’t sail because it was overloaded … it was a memorable night. I did that until 1977 … I was just getting married and it was time to pursue over avenues. Playing music takes a lot of time and I needed to be able to balance work with my playing.”

After playing gigs virtually every week through the end of his high school days, Matherne indeed left the band and found another avenue to share his talent – with the choir at Holy Family Church in Luling.

It wasn’t long before he was back performing shows, this time alongside his once-guitar teacher who was the head of the choir. The two played every weekend at Esperanza Restaurant in Luling, while Matherne also performed solo at weddings and other special events.

After the two parted ways, he began singing acoustic as a solo performer. Now that he is retired, he has the freedom to play wherever the opportunity presents – “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, it doesn’t matter now,” he said.

Some of his regular performance stops are Las Rosas in Luling, El Paso in Gonzales and La Catrina in Ponchatoula, while he also does private parties.

“I’ve been playing for 53 years … I love to play music. I had more than 85 gigs this past year … it keeps me busy and humbles me,” Matherne said. “I can’t believe it grew to this.”

Those gigs are in addition to his days at the living facilities he’s found as a new, fulfilling platform for him. It’s an always appreciative audience as well, which is something Matherne said he enjoys and is grateful for.

“It seems like people enjoy it,” he said. “I get feedback from the directors and they’ve been really positive about it. Even besides the residents themselves, the staff at these locations are so terrific. Those are special people who love to really make (the residents’) day.

“I’ve found a new world that I’m really enjoying. And if they’re enjoying it, then it’s all I could ever ask for.”


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