Now we find that the country’s great military bands are taking a hit.
The famed U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” canceled its anniversary concert last weekend at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda and is preparing to cancel other concerts as a result of federal budget uncertainties.
Strathmore, with 2,000 seats, “was going to cost $35,000 in rental and related costs,” said Col. Thomas Palmatier, the band’s leader and commander. So the band canceled, citing “limitations on government funds” on its Web site, and instead scheduled four concerts at the 350-seat hall at Fort Myer. (All the band’s concerts are free to the public.)
Most other performances, either outdoors at the Capitol or on the Mall or wherever the venue is free, will continue, Palmatier said, and additional concerts — at places such as the World War II Memorial — will be added.
All the military bands in the country and around the world are “in the same boat,” Palmatier said. “We are all looking at reality” and “trying to make lemonade out of lemons,” cutting travel costs and such, he said. “They are all doing the same thing.”
“We’re doing everything we can to find every possible way to continue to provide service to Americans,” he added, including webcasting concerts. Cutting hall rentals, some travel and other expenses would yield about $100,000 in savings, he said.
The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, along with many National Guard units, maintain 148 bands, with an estimated total cost of about $388 million a year.
Secretary of State John Kerry looks to be scoring early points for diplomatic gift-giving with what we hear was a hit of a present to his counterpart, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, during a stop in London last week.
Kerry presented Hague with a pair of fine tan Western-style leather boots purchased from Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum, Idaho. (Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, have a home nearby in Sun Valley, and the SecState has been known to sport a few pairs of his own from the purveyor).
The kicks were handmade in Texas (natch) by the famed Lucchese Boot Co., and they had Hague’s initials hand-tooled into the shins by an Idaho saddle maker.
We’re told they went over big, with Hague promising they would be “well worn.”
Kerry’s fashion flourish may have inspired a bit of an across-the-pond trend: Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne apparently expressed interest to U.S. officials about getting their own pairs.
No doubt Kerry owes a tip of the 10-gallon hat to ambassador and chief of protocol Capricia Marshall, who helps select such diplomatic gifts.
They appear to be getting off on the right foot.