Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting Out - Millennium Stage

Asleep at the Wheel

DC's most famous arts venue, the Kennedy Center, also offers one of the city's most under-used tourist attractions - The Millennium Stage. Millennium Stage is really nothing more than two giant stages set up at either end of the large atrium/hall way facing the Potomac. The reason it should be a top tourist destination - every night at 6 they offer a free performance. This is a very low cost opportunity to stroll around a famous DC landmark and check out some tunes.

I would also argue that it's appropriately used by DC residents. This would typically imply that it's a favorite destination for swells of Washingtonians, but instead I mean that people rarely go... and for good reason. Millennium Stage's typical offerings are less than appealing to most non-stuck-up-artsy-fartsy-folks. Here's a selection of descriptions pulled from actual upcoming shows "The influential 6- and 11-string guitarist" and "creating a hybrid of Cajun, country, stringband, and swing" or how about "salsa band combines native African and Cuban rhythms with Afro-American funk, jazz, soul". I think you catch my drift.

There are few exceptions though, and these shows are totally under-used. This week we went to check out one of my favorite Western Swing bands, Asleep at the Wheel. They were very entertaining, packing the crowded temporary dance floor set up for the occasion. If you're interested in checking out the show, it's available on the Kennedy Center's website here:

Getting Out - John Philip Sousa

Sousa's grave honoring his time as Marine Corps Band director.

We're quickly discovering a number of interesting things hidden around Capitol Hill. One of the more fascinating features is the Congressional Cemetery. It serves, obviously, as a place of remembrance, but also, a dog park (more on that on a future date). Congressional Cemetery is the resting place of several members of Congress who died in office before the days of embalming. At that time, it was difficult to return the body to his or her (although I'm sure it's almost exclusively his over that period of time) home state. There are also a few famous folks who were born and raised in Capitol Hill - most famously J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, and John Philip Sousa.

Also, located on Capitol Hill is the Marine Barracks which is the home to The President's Own Marine Corps Band. Every year, to honor Sousa's birthday the band comes to his grave-site to play a few of his tunes. It was a surprisingly moving, patriotic experience.

Sousa impersonator starting the event.

Here comes the band.

"The Stars and Stripes Forever"

Kathryn and the Drum Major. A very tall man with an exceptionally tall hat.

James F. Amos was the honored guest - Four Star General, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff