Daniel Wendt is hoping Tuesday’s Texas Bowl won’t be his last game as the LSU Tiger Marching Band’s drum major.
“I’m planning on starting graduate school at LSU next fall, and I plan to spend at least one more year in the Tiger Band,” says Wendt, who intends to get his bachelor’s degree in finance in May. “I have to try out for drum major again, and I hope to be leading the band back on the field in the fall.”
Wendt, who will travel with the 325-member band to Houston’s NRG Stadium for the Tigers’ game against Texas Tech University, grew up in Denham Springs, where he was drum major for the high school band. He played in the Tiger Band’s saxophone section for three years before being selected as drum major last spring.
“It was my second time to try out,” Wendt says. “There’s a story my uncle tells me. It happened when I was 4, so I don’t remember it, but he does.”
The 4-year-old, the story goes, was standing alongside Victory Hill outside Tiger Stadium when the Golden Band from Tigerland came marching along. It was his first time to see the band stop, play its “Pregame” song, then run down the hill. Wendt tugged at his uncle’s shirt, pointed at the drum major and said, “I’m going to do that.”
And so he will again when the Tigers take on the Red Raiders.
As he looks forward to the bowl game, Wendt recalls some of his highlights of the past season.
There was his first “Pregame” show as drum major, then the South Carolina game, when the Tiger Band played the Gamecocks’ alma mater and fight song after LSU yielded its field to the flood-stricken university.
As for the traditional baton toss the drum major makes when the band takes the field before each game, Wendt says it went pretty well.
“I tossed the baton at every game, and I only missed catching it once,” he says. “It’s interesting, because the stadium gets really quiet, and you can hear everyone take a breath when I catch it. But when I missed it, I heard a collective, ‘awww.’”
Another highlight was “the game that never was — the first game against McNeese,” Wendt says. “That was interesting, and it was the beginning of a strange but action-packed season. And I’ll never forget our performance with 3 Doors Down at the Texas A&M game.”
At the bowl game, Wendt will help lead the band in a reprisal of its “Women in Rock” halftime show from the LSU-Auburn game on Sept. 19.
“We really liked that show,” says Roy King, the band’s director. “And once the Tiger Band and the Texas Tech Band are done with their halftime shows, it’s a tradition at the Texas Bowl for both bands to come together to form a star in the center of the field. Once we’ve formed the star, we’ll play ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas.’ Texas Tech’s director, Duane Hill, was the Tiger Band’s guest at LSU’s last home game against Texas A&M in November, so we’ve formed a friendship with their band.”
King says in addition to the game, the band will play at two pep rally-type events.
“We’ve also scheduled some fun things on our own,” he adds.
King and his staff have rented two auditoriums in a Houston dinner-and-a-movie establishment for band members to catch “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
“We’ll also be having our annual band banquet on this trip, and we’ve rented the Redneck Country Club outside of Sugar Land, Texas, for this,” King says. “A country band will be there to entertain, and they’ll teach us how to line dance.”
At the banquet, the seniors will present a special gift to the band.
“I can’t say what it is, but this year’s gift is awesome,” Wendt says. “It’s usually a picture that represents the band. We have several senior gifts hanging in the old band hall and some in the staff room, but this will be the first one to hang in the new band hall.”