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|Strike up the Golden Band|
Music and sports just seem to go together.
You can't go to a high school game now and not hear some pregame music going. Even at baseball games, players have different songs played when they are announced when they come to the plate.
Music just seems to get a large crowd going, especially when it's got a good beat (that's for you American Bandstand fans out there). You younger folks — don't ask.
It usually doesn't get any better music-wise than at an LSU football game.
The tradition of playing Louisiana Saturday night seems to get the place going.
And it's awesome when Garth Brooks' Calling Baton Rouge begins playing and the entire student section screams out the "Louisiana" part.
But for pure musical entertainment, nothing comes close to the Golden Band from Tigerland.
And there is no better pregame than Touchdown for LSU.
"That is a very important part of what we do," said Frank B. Wickes, who has served as Director of Bands at LSU since 1980. "Everybody new who comes in gets very excited about playing that song. They know it's a big deal to the fans and students. And I still get a big thrill out of it."
Wickes, who holds the rank of full professor in the College of Music and Dramatic Arts and received degrees from the University of Delaware and the University of Michigan, is currently preparing for the 2009 season.
"Our staff comes in a week early for percussion auditions before the rest of the band gets here," Wickes said. "Then we bring the band in cut from there."
Wickes said the band is limited to 325 musicians and about 400 show up the first week.
"It's very tough making cuts," he said. "I just can't emphasis that enough. The students work hard, but some instruments are more important than others."
LSU Band members and supporters have been involved in fund-raising efforts the past couple of year to build a new band hall.
"We've raised the initial amount to get started on the band hall, but still have a ways to go," he said.
Lately the band has begun playing "Living on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi, which is a big hit with the student section, which continues singing the song after the band finishes. The "Wo-Ho" part rocks.
"I think last year we were doing that more than we wanted to," Wickes said with a laugh. "We would crank that up and the students would join in and really do a good job with it."
It seems the all-time favorite and one they'll still be playing when the seventh generation of Kinchens is playing in Tiger Stadium is "Hey Baby."
You know, the one that goes, "Hey, hey hey baby! I want to know if you'll be my girl. Hey, hey hey baby! I want to know if you'll be my girl." Sorry, I know that tune is going to be hard to get out of the brain for some of you folks the rest of the day.
Anyway, what you probably didn't know is that "Hey Baby" was originally done by Bruce Channel in 1962, but it's been covered by a lot of artists since then.
Wickes said "it's a very quirky thing knowing what's going to catch on," he said. "I think our band does a good job of interacting with our crowd and the student body. I think that's one of the biggest things that separates us from other bands in our conference. And we like to think we help spur the team on and at times even make the difference in the game."
Wickes said he doesn't mind the canned music at Tiger Stadium when the band is going down to the field to perform before the game or at halftime.
But that's not the case on the road.
"When we go away to places like Alabama and Auburn they usually put us right in front of the microphones so when they play music you can hardly hear us," he said.
Wickes said the success of the football team has a bearing on the band's success.
"We ride the coattails of the team," he said. "Things have certainly been going well more often than not lately and we've been very fortunate to be a part of it."
Wickes said this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Golden Girls.
"We're going to have a special alumni band show on Halloween for the Tulane game and we're asking all the Golden Girls from the past 50 years to show up," he said. "And every game this year the current girls are going to wear the uniforms of the original Golden Girls."
Wickes said this is a special time of year for him.
"I'm very excited in the same way the coaches and fans all get excited before the first game," he said. "It's always a lot of hype."
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