POSITION: Pride of Acadiana Marching Band director.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Pride of Acadiana Marching Band performs its first home football game Saturday under the direction of new band leader Eric Melley, who began his duties as UL-Lafayette’s marching band director last month. A native of Boston, Melley earned a doctor of musical arts degree with an emphasis in conducting in May from Arizona State University. From 2009 to 2011, he served as assistant director of LSU’s marching band. At UL-Lafayette, he’ll also direct the band that performs during the men’s and women’s basketball games and he’ll teach a marching band technique class to music education majors.
How have practices been going?
It’s been good. They have been working hard. Of course, they’re outside during the hottest part of the day, so it adds a certain intensity.
What can fans expect on game day?
We’re doing a tribute to The Rolling Stones for our first show. It’s the home opener and we’ll switch to something different for the second game.
What goes into game day prep?
We were basically going 12 hours a day for five days for our preseason work. Multiply that by 274 people. That’s just our preseason week. Then, it’s two hours every other day during the semester. Plus, they have evening sectionals two times a week for two hours.
What do you think a game would be like without a marching band?
You can ask people who have gone to the away games. There’s something about music that can get a group-think going and get people all on the same level in a good way. It rallies the troops. If the team’s down, it can pick the crowd up and support the team. If the team’s up, it keeps that momentum going.
Why did you get involved in marching band?
I’m a big sports fan. The crowds and the energy. You go to the event and it’s a three-ring circus. There’s something about college athletics — there’s nothing like it.
Do you feel like a Ragin’ Cajun yet?
I’m getting there. It’s different here than it is in Baton Rouge — in a good way. Louisiana is almost a second home. I’m from Boston. That’s home and where the rest of our family is. It’s nice here. The community has been very welcoming.
Advocate staff writer Marsha Sills