West Side showdown showcases two bands, one musical family

Photo courtesy of BHS Band Boosters

Members of the Port Allen High and Brusly High bands at the 2018 Sugar Cane Classic West

Side Challenge pep rally.

Ben Nabors

BHS Band Boosters

“It’s a family affair,” sang Sly and the Family Stone way back in 1971. That is what the Port Allen High School and Brusly High School rivalry is, a family affair that goes back long before Sly Stone’s song hit the airwaves. It includes music, too.

The Port Allen Pelicans and Brusly Panthers reignited their rivalry at the 2018 Sugar Cane Classic West Side Challenge Pep Rally Thursday, Aug. 30. In the Pelicans’ gymnasium, musicians blared and banged at each other as color guards swayed and danced.

Port Allen’s Band of Blue and Brusly’s Panther Sound were undoubtedly loud foes during the pep rally showdown, and all in good fun. When it came down to it, they were—and are—members of the same family.

Along with Brusly and Port Allen cheer and dance squads, each band focused on representing its respective school and raising school spirit. Members of both bands are part of the passionate, talented West Baton Rouge Parish music program. There was no shortage of admiration between the Band of Blue and the Panther Sound.

“Port Allen’s band truly reflects what it means to band together and work together in order to accomplish whatever they set their minds to,” Brusly senior piccolo player and Panther Sound Captain Mackenzi Melton said.

Port Allen senior and Band of Blue percussionist Mignonne-Ariel Leachman admired the Panther Sound’s school spirit and enthusiasm.

“They are very good musicians, and it is evident that they enjoy what they do,” she said.

Members of both bands pointed out how being part of small town bands is more than just about playing music. Port Allen senior and alto saxophonist Terrell Smith has found being in the band is a way to meet new people.

“You never know what type of person you are going to meet,” he said.

Brusly junior Amariz Mendoza and Brusly sophomore McKenzie Breaux, Panther Sound trumpeters and band lieutenants, said the band is a family. Breaux took it a step further.

“I would like to see the two bands come together because we all love the same thing,” she said.

Band members agreed they would like to see the music program grow in West Baton Rouge Parish to have more people become involved. Port Allen senior Emily Nichols, who plays tuba and clarinet for the Band of Blue, said she wants to see the program spread “into a larger range of musicality, from orchestras to even recording music in studios.”

Even after everyone else had left Port Allen High to rest up for Friday night’s big game, the Band of Blue and the Panther Sound kept playing—blasting instruments to call and respond to each other across the Pelicans’ gym.

Borrowing again from “Family Affair,” the West Baton Rouge Parish “blood” is thicker between the two bands than any “mud” they might throw at each other during pep rallies or games.

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