St. Charles Herald-Guide

A passion for playing

By M. Susanne Hinkle - May 3, 2006

Many residents of St. Charles Parish know that Dr. Rodney Lafon began his education career as a music teacher before being promoted to Superintendent of St. Charles Parish Schools.

But fewer people know that he is also an active member of a rhythm and blues band called ‘Luther Kent and Trick Bag'. And this past Saturday, Dr. Lafon played with Luther Kent and Trick Bag at the Jazz Fest to an eager and delighted crowd of blues enthusiasts.

Dr. Lafon began his music career at the tender age of ten years old and was a member of the band ‘Gold Bricks' by age thirteen. Lafon grew to be a talented and accomplished trumpet player but the musician got his start on the accordion, playing music genres such jazz and rhythm & blues.

Lafon began his music education career in 1972 at St. Bernard High School where he taught music for four months. From there he left to go on the road as the road manager for the CC Riders. He traveled and played with other bands such as the Drifters and Billy Joe Royal. After he married, his wife also traveled with him on the road.
The superintendent returned to St. Charles Parish where he taught music and was an assistant principle. Several years later, Lafon was promoted to Assistant Superintendent and then to Superintendent.

Luther Kent and Trick Bag, named after the old blues song, Trick Bag, began in 1979 playing gigs on historic Bourbon Street. Music lovers can catch Dr. Lafon in action with his trumpet at different blues clubs in and around the garden district.

And if you catch Lafon’s band in action, you just might see Sheriff Greg Champagne playing a few tunes of his own. On occasion, Champagne fills in, also playing th trumpet, with Luther Kent and Trick Bag.

"Playing music is truly something I love to do," said the Superintendent. He went on to say, "Some people have golf as an outlet, I have my trumpet. I practice everyday and it has always taught me self direction and responsibility. I have lost some friends in the band over the years and I keep playing to keep their memory alive. It keeps me humble."

Champagne began his music career in elementary school going on to play the trumpet in college at Nicholls State University. He also participated in the university's marching band. Locals can catch Champagne and his wife, who plays the flute, in the River Parishes Community Band. The trumpet player also plays in the Shriner's Dance Band. "It is a nice opportunity to get away from the every day routine of work and let loose," said the Sheriff.

Sheriff Greg Champagne with Dr. Lafon at the Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2002.
Sheriff Greg Champagne with Dr. Lafon at the Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2002.