The Russ-Town Band performs 2-3 events in the Ruston area each year with rehearsals on Tuesday evenings from 7:30-9:00 PM. Musicians with previous experience who are interested in learning more about the band can email conductor@russtownband.org.

Lawrence Gibbs, conductor

Lawrence Gibbs has been a member of the Russ-Town Band since the band began. He is a retired Associate Professor from Louisiana Tech University holding a Master of Music in Education from Louisiana Tech and a Bachelor of Music Education from Northeast Louisiana University/University of Louisiana-Monroe. During his tenure at Tech, his duties included teaching clarinet and saxophone applied lessons, jazz improvisation, Jazz History, music appreciation, music history, single reed Methods, directing the Jazz Ensembles and Combo, and he served as the Head of Instrumental Music.

Chris Heidenreich, conductor

Dr. Christopher P. Heidenreich began his tenure at Louisiana Tech in the fall of 2021 after serving at the University of Michigan-Flint since 2009. Prior work includes three years at Youngstown State University as well as fourteen teaching public school in Ohio. He completed his Doctor of Music in Wind Conducting from Indiana University (2006), holds a Master of Arts in Music Education from The Ohio State University (1998), and a Bachelor of Music degree from Bowling Green State University (1989) where he graduated cum laude.

From 2011-2021 he served as Conductor and Music Director of the Washtenaw Community Concert Band of Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2002, he was awarded the American School Band Directors Association's “Distinguished Band Director” Award for Ohio and the North Central Region, and in 2013 UM-Flint awarded him the Faculty Distinguished Service Award. The Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association granted him with an Honorary Membership for service to the state in 2020.

Heidenreich is a member of the National Association for Music Educators, Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, the College Band Directors National Association, National Band Association, and a lifetime member of the National Eagle Scout Association. He and his wife Beth have two children, Jillian who is completing a doctorate in Occupational Therapy, and Daniel, a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The History of the Russ-Town Band

The Russ-Town Band was formed by Lawrence and Jan Gibbs and Charles and Anne Gaushell in March of 1994. Collectively, they felt a need for summer and Holiday entertainment in the Ruston area, and the "community band" concept was making an impressive nationwide comeback. Ruston was developing great plans to improve the entertainment throughout the area, and they felt "the time was RIGHT."

The "founders" had been active local musicians in North Louisiana for years and were great friends. Jan and Lawrence were members of the Ouachita High School band under the leadership of Jack W. White in the late 1960's. Anne and Charlie were members of the legendary LSU Band under the direction of L. Bruce Jones and friends with LSU Associate Director of Bands, Mr. Oscar Barnes. Mr. Barnes would move to Ruston to take over at Ruston High School, and after his retirement from teaching, Mr. Barnes was approached and agreed to begin as director and conductor of the newly formed Russ-Town Band. Mr. Gibbs assumed the role of Assistant Director/Band Manager and Principal Clarinet of the band.

The Russ-Town Band became an instant success in North Louisiana performing yearly concerts in Ruston Railroad Park, the Dixie Center for the Arts, Ruston High School, and various other locations. In 1996, the band expanded to include "The Russ-Town Jazz Band" and various chamber music ensembles. The band quickly became an integral part of the Ruston music scene. The band performed at many Ruston Peach Festival events offering its' annual Patriotic Concert along with performing every Christmas Season with "Christmas at the Dixie" concerts. There were many years in which the band was able to perform "Spring Serenades" and an extra "Summer Concert" at Ruston High School. The band was organized as entirely volunteer and non-profit.

In 2001, Mr. Barnes handed over the baton to Mr. Gibbs to continue building upon the previous successes. Mr. Gibbs continued to conduct and manage the band until he turned over the ensemble in 2022 to Dr. Chris Heidenreich, Director of Bands at Louisiana Tech University.

In 1994, the original mission and goal of the Russ-Town Band was to simply "improve the local cultural atmosphere of Ruston, LA."

In 2022, we continue with our mission.