NEW ORLEANS-- "This is band that put the word marching back into marching band and brought you soul music to the football field"
That is what you heard for decades when the St. Aug Marching 100 took the field, starting in 1952. That announcer's proclamation goes back to the design and vision of one man, Edwin Harrell Hampton.
Current St. Aug Director of Bands, Eddie Williams says, "Anytime you take a corps style and show band type of style and merge them into one you wind up with the St. Augustine Marching 100 "
At the core of the band's movement is Hampton's military background; how troops are moved on the battlefield. After endless hours of rehearsal with the fit, disciplined unit, patterns in motions is achieved.
Anyone who's spent time in the band remembers the basics. LBJ, a 1980 grad of St. Aug explains, "8 to 5. 8 Steps every 5 yards, 22 1/2 inches, Of course you would have to do it with a parallel knee bend. By default these marker lines are still here, and this is the yard where the magic happened with the St. Augustine Marching 100 when I was here."
Getting today's Marching 100 to perform as the bands of yesteryear requires an education process as well. "We do a lot of teaching about the past, about 'this is what we are, this is who we are, this is how we came to be'. so there's a certain expectation," says Williams.
That expectation is to be one of the most decorated and imitated marching units of all time.
What's also unique is that Hampton wasn't just in the business of building a great band. He also built great men, according to St. Aug President Dr. Kenneth St. Charles, "Mr. Hampton gave many of us an opportunity to have a leadership role, and in that role that I had, it was good to realize that he was preparing me something greater down the line"