Local guitarist brings light to downtown Lake Charles

Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 7:54 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Four weeks after Hurricane Laura, many places lie in ruins, people are still hurting, but there are things to remind us all is not lost.

Much of downtown Lake Charles resembles the long road to recovery from Hurricane Laura, but there are some things that make you wonder if a hurricane even came at all.

“Ever since I’ve been in Lake Charles, I’ve been toting this guitar and walking the streets and playing for anybody that wants to listen to me.”

This is something Mitch Pickering has been doing for the seven years he’s lived in Lake Charles.

“I’ve gotten better, because at first, didn’t nobody want to listen to me. But I have gotten better.”

The night Hurricane Laura hit, pickering was riding out the storm in his apartment at the high rises downtown.

“They come knocking on my door saying we had to evacuate, the day before. I said, ‘no I ain’t’," Pickering said. “Then after the storm hit, we had to evacuate, cause it tore so much up. She said, ‘you got to go now.' I said, ‘yeah, I do, but I’m going’.”

Now, being displaced since the storm, it’s just him and his guitar.

”I just couldn’t leave my stuff. That’s the only thing I own in life. Everything I own is in my apartment, most of it is guitars."

However, these instruments hold a bigger purpose to Pickering.

“My playing keeps me calm, and I can think better. I had brain surgery - they cut a piece of my brain out -, and they decided I could learn to play the 6-string guitar would be therapy," Pickering said. “They didn’t do it right. I learned to play the guitar, but it didn’t help my brain one bit. I’m still just like I was.”

His easygoing spirit in the most uncertain of times translates to all who hear him play.

”Just seeing familiar faces and they’re smiling, because that’s what we’re all trying to do right now, is smile. To see him out there smiling and playing his music, just makes you feel good inside," said Roxanne Deroche

Strumming together a little bit of hope one string at a time, for a community on a path to recovery.

“I decided I was sad one time, a long time ago, and I said I wasn’t going to be sad anymore. Even this storm, you have to look at it as a positive," Pickering said. "Some of the things we lost probably needed to be lost, and now, can be rebuilt better. Think of it as a positive, and make it good. That’s what I’m going to do.”

You can find Mitch playing his guitar every morning in downtown Lake Charles near Stellar Beans.

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