For several Saturdays a year, Caleb Vedros wakes up eager to take in a special, and very unique, experience.
“You just look forward to having that opportunity to perform in front of 102,321 people,” said Vedros.
That very specific number is likely familiar for LSU football fanatics: it’s the attendance capacity at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, where one of college football’s most revered and well-known home game atmospheres is set. Vedros is part of that – and his role is growing larger.
The Hahnville High School alumnus and LSU senior was recently named the drum captain for the Golden Band from Tigerland. He’ll be one of the key leaders of the 325-member band, which performs at all LSU football games, home or away, and is responsible for “Tiger Rag,” “Fight for LSU”, “Hey, Fightin’ Tigers” and other iconic tunes cued up during the Tigers’ battles on the field.
“Being in the band has been a great experience … when I got here and started experiencing it, it reminds you how much people look forward to game day,” Vedros said. “For me, it’s a huge deal and a privilege to be able to be a big part of that for someone.”
Vedros recently learned through e-mail that he had been named drum captain, and he admitted he wasn’t expecting it.
“I was pretty surprised because we had about eight or nine people going for it, and some really good people at that,” Vedros said. “So, it was surprising, but it’s also really exciting.”
Part of his new responsibilities will be writing parts of the Tiger Band shows involving the drum line, as well as holding summer clinics and assisting in auditions.
Vedros began playing music as a fourth grader – he would play bass guitar at his church. When he arrived at J.B. Martin Middle School, his mother informed the band director that Vedros wanted to join the band, and that he played bass.
“She took it as bass drum and not bass guitar,” Vedros said. “So, a bit of a miscommunication, but that got me started playing percussion.”
It was a happy accident, as it turned out. Vedros was also part of band leadership at Hahnville High, where he said he adopted several positive habits and traits thanks to having some very good teachers.
“Eric Gueniot and Michael Danigole really instilled leadership qualities and things I’m applying today, five years later,” said Vedros of his former band directors. “I have to give them a lot of credit … I feel like I was developed really well. As a kid, you’re trying to set the best example you can, but you have so much to learn and they taught us all a lot.”
Once he arrived at LSU, he began working his way up. He auditioned his first year and focused on a goal of being on the drum line. He began by playing the symbols before ultimately moving to the bass drum in 2019, where he’s been since.
His first experience at Tiger Stadium for an LSU game came during his senior year at Hahnville. So many games later, his appreciation for the atmosphere there has not dulled.
“As far as I’m concerned, you’re performing in front of some of the best fans of any fanbase out there, and anyone who has been on that field for pregame and has heard how loud it gets will agree with me on that,” Vedros said.
The one thing he’s always enjoyed about being part of band, at any level, is the feeling of camaraderie that grows as the group endures hours and hours of practice and preparation together.
“When you’re around each other as much as we are in the drum line, it’s really hard to not become a family,” Vedros said. “You’re going to Tiger Stadium on game day, having people roar in your face because you’re in the Golden Band from Tigerland, and you’re getting to experience it with people you consider family, it’s really one of the best feelings ever.”
He hopes his new role enables him to give back to a program he says has given him so much over his time at LSU.
“I’m thankful I have that opportunity,” he said. “It’s provided me with so much in terms of development, in terms of meeting so many people and in terms of just having a great time. There have been so many memories made just over the past four years … all of that is just untouchable.”