ST. FRANCISVILLE — Louis Smith knows there are two major characteristics that make a marching band successful. One is playing the part loud and proud. The other is looking the part.
Thanks to the recent purchase of new uniforms, the East Feliciana Marching Tigers Band is able to do both whenever and wherever it plays.
Smith, who has been the East Feliciana band director for two years, knows a marching band can be one of a school’s most recognizable and effective ambassadors. As a former trumpet player for the famed Southern University’s Human Jukebox, Smith also knows the value of not only playing the part but looking like a serious marching band.
“Being in a band can be one of a school’s biggest brands out there,” said Smith, who is originally from Leesville. “We have a lot of talented musicians, and I just want them to be heard.”
East Feliciana spent more than $21,000 to purchase the new uniforms to dress the band in style. In a ceremony on Oct. 29 in the East Feliciana gymnasium, the band members revealed their new uniforms to the school and the community.
Smith is doing his best to get his East Feliciana band noticed outside of the parish. It regularly performs at all school events and local parades, but it also branches out to Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, Alexandria and Houma.
He said he would like for the band to travel to more distant places like Houston to perform in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, but one thing is making it difficult.
“It boils down to funds,” Smith said.
“You have to have funds for travel, lodging and food. It costs about $225 per student, and for 50 to 60 students, it adds up pretty quick.”
The band has occasional fundraisers like cookie dough sales and working the concession stands at sporting games, but he hopes local businesses will become supportive with sponsorships.
He said a long-term goal is to also purchase new instruments for the band, which would cost more than $100,000.
“I’m just trying to get their talent noticed, that’s my goal,” Smith said. “My biggest thing is there is talent here in this parish, and somebody is here that can do something very well.”