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With Mardi Gras parades banned, Human Jukebox coming to terms with quiet carnival season

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BATON ROUGE - The sound of notes are noticeably missing from the Southern University band hall this fall. There are no halftime routines to run through, no events to prepare for.

"We had hurricanes, tornadoes, different things that give us a two-week setback, but never have we been able to sit out an entire fall," Southern's Director of Bands Kedric Taylor said.

Many of the Human Jukebox's signature events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, it was football when the SWAC pushed the season to spring in a July announcement.

"Man, we never really get to watch the LSU games and SEC schools," Taylor said. "So we just take advantage and watch those games."

The latest blow to the world-renowned band, arguably the largest part of Mardi Gras, the parades. Tuesday's news out of New Orleans cancelling them for 2021.

"For the Human Jukebox not to be a part of that experience is definitely going to be one of those things like 'what are we going to do,'" Taylor said.

Taylor, sitting in an empty band hall Tuesday, said the decision wasn't shocking.

"I think I knew it was coming," Taylor said. "You know it's kind of expected. We're in a pandemic and that's number one. I think people's lives are more important than anything. You don't want to jeopardize anybody, because people are going to come to Mardi Gras regardless. Whether they're wearing a mask or whatever, they're going to come to Mardi Gras."

Each year in recent memory, the Human Jukebox has been a staple in the Krewe of Bacchus parade, and can be seen frequently when Zulu rolls. The band chooses three or four Mardi Gras events to participate in each year, from the many calls it receives.

"We get asked to be in a lot of parades," Taylor said. "We just try to go around and participate in different parades and different organizations."

And no parades on the calendar means no Mardi Gras revenue this year. Typically the Human Jukebox brings in tens of thousands of dollars from playing throughout carnival season.

"We make a nice little amount on Mardi Gras, Taylor said. "But we didn't travel at all this fall, so we do have our travel budget still, that we did not use. We'll be ok as it relates to this year."

It's not the money Taylor says the band will miss the most this Mardi Gras, but firing up the spectators lining the parade routes.

"There's nothing like coming down Canal Street and fans are going crazy hearing the Human Jukebox," Taylor said.


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