If I had to rank the flags of our area from best to least-best — and I do — I’d put them in this order: the District, Maryland, Virginia.

Virginia’s flag does have the advantage of featuring a bare-breasted woman standing on top of a man who’s wearing a dress, but it doesn’t pop graphically. When I say it doesn’t pop graphically, I mean it wouldn’t look good on a snare drum.

What does look good on a snare drum is the District’s flag, as I discovered the other day when I was in Wheaton, Md., at Washington Music Center — a.k.a. Chuck Levin’s. They’re selling a snare they had custom-made by Drum Workshop, a high-end drum company based in California.


The D.C. drum was the idea of Sam Bertness, who works in Chuck’s drum department — and bangs the skins in a wedding band called the Excellent Drivers and in a rock trio called Prettier in Person.


“I think it’s a design that looks good on a drum,” said Sam.

I agree. The twin bands of red and the three stars — inspired by George Washington’s family’s coat of arms — really pop from the white background. The $800 snare drum would be perfect for a drummer in a go-go band. (Full disclosure: I shop at Chuck’s.)

“It’s a very usable instrument,” Sam said of the 14-by-7-inch D.C. flag drum, which is 10-ply maple. “We’re thinking of ordering some more.”

Sam said they thought about doing a snare drum with the Maryland state flag, but decided the design was too busy.


“Thanks to Lord Calvert,” said Dustin Maclean, co-founder of a handmade drum company in St. Mary’s County, Md., called M2 Custom Drums.

Five years ago Dustin and his business partner, Mark Martinez, unveiled a one-of-a-kind snare drum adorned with the Maryland flag, a flag that’s based on the coat of arms of Sir George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore. The Maryland flag — black-and-yellow checks; red-and-white crosses — appears on the drum twice, along with another bit of Marylandia: a blue crab.


The design was airbrushed on the drum by their friend Joe Ewing, who paints cars for a living.

“For us, heritage is very important,” Dustin said. “We know our roots, especially this area …. Everyone is very gung-ho about where they’re from.”


M2 makes what are called stave drums, a labor-intensive process that involves building a drum shell from rectangles of wood arranged vertically and glued together. They differ from the more common steam-bent, plywood drums.

The company’s Maryland flag drum was on display for a few years at Island Music in La Plata, with a price set deliberately high — $1,200 — so no one would buy it, Dustin said. Now it’s a showpiece they display at drum shows.

Dustin said their custom drums have caught on in Nashville, where some of the bigger country artists have their own whiskey brands. M2 has jumped on that craze and has made a few snare drums that resemble charred whiskey barrels. They’re talking with a Nashville drummer who wants his bass drum shell painted to look like it has a Tennessee flag draped over one side and an American flag over the other.


I told Dustin I just ordered a new drum set. I could tell he was disappointed I’d picked a rather boring finish — glossy black — rather than something a little wilder.

But hey, black goes with anything, right?

Reunited and it feels so good

These area schools are reuniting in the coming months.

Bowie Senior High Class of 1979 — Oct. 11-13. Contact Steve Osvatics (sosvatics@gmail.com, 240-538-7806) or Robbin Barr (crablover01@gmail.com) or visit www.classcreator.com/Bowie-MD-1979/.

Coolidge High Class of 1959 — July 20. Email Bill Vederman at vederman@att.net.

Eastern High (D.C.) Class of 1964 — Oct. 12. Email Jerri at jmin94@aol.com.

T.A. Edison High (Alexandria) Classes of 1968-1970 — Oct. 18 and 19. Contacts: Barbara Brant Dent ’68 (bbdent@verizon.net), Alan Goldsmith ’69 (aeg4451@aol.com), Joyce Tarlosky Scott ’70 (joycescottva@verizon.net) or ehs686970reunion@gmail.com.


High Point High Class of 1967 — Aug. 31. Contact Tom Hill at 240-417-5484.

Howard High (Ellicott City) Class of 1969 — Sept. 21 and 22. Visit howardhigh1969.com.

Walter Johnson High Class of 1969 — Oct. 18-20. Visit www.wj69.com and click “50-Year Reunion” link. (If you have forgotten your log-in credentials, contact Ben Bialek through the website.)

James Madison High (Vienna) Class of 1969 — Aug. 17. Email jmhs69reunion@gmail.com.

Marshall High (Marshall, Va.) All Classes — Sept. 21. Contact Doris (Waddell) Edmonds at 540-253-5349, Billy Sinclair at 540-729-0544 or Johnny Sisk at 540-316-9162.

Theodore Roosevelt High Classes of 1957-1962 — Oct. 12. Contact Phillip Morris at pmorris43@aol.com.

T.C. Williams High Class of 1974 — Aug. 16 and 17. Email Delora Dillard at deloradillard@cox.net.

Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.