With gray clouds overhead, the musicians of Electric Brigade began playing the opening to "Dance To The Music" Tuesday night, marking the first song of their last performance at Annapolis City Dock.
Tuesday night's performance was the last time the band will be a part of the U.S. Naval Academy's annual summer concert series, Michael Brady, Naval Academy spokesman, wrote in an email. The Naval Academy Band plans to have the City Dock concert series with a "different ensemble of musicians" next year, he wrote.
"As (a) result of the Navy Band leadership's recent recommendation to more efficiently support the Academy's ceremonial musical needs, the USNA's Electric Brigade is being disestablished in early 2017," he wrote.
The Electric Brigade is the Navy's popular music group and has been performing around the world since 1979. The band performs recent hits and plays genres ranging from Motown to rock and even country.
About 300 people attended Tuesday night's free performance. Little kids cartwheeled on the red brick, teenagers Snapchatted the ominous clouds and older couples munched on sandwiches during the concert.
Many of the concertgoers, like Dotty and David Garrison, of Bowie, attend the concert every year. Their son graduated from the academy in 1991. The band recognizes active military and veterans at every concert, which means a lot to the couple, Dottie said.
The idea that the band won't be performing anymore is disheartening, David added.
"To me, every performance is special," he said. "Period."
Due to potential legislation, performances from bands across all military branches could be in jeopardy.
The House of Representatives passed bills in June that would make the military give a "detailed accounting of the bands' activities and expenses and limit where and when the bands could perform," The New York Times reported in July.
The Pentagon has 130 military bands and about 6,500 musicians. The cost was more than $435 million last year, which is about three times the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Times reported.
One of the bills was introduced by Rep. Martha E. McSally, R-Arizona, who is a former Air Force fighter pilot. She said the spending on military bands has increased over the years, such as buying $11,000 flutes, according to The Times.
"While our communities certainly do enjoy being entertained by our military bands, they would, I think, prefer to be protected by our military," McSally said before the House floor in June.
On June 19, a military band supporter created a White House petition to fight the potential changes. It garnered over 30,000 signatures, but failed to get 100,000 in 30 days. If it did, the White House would have released an update about the issue within 60 days.
Annapolis resident Gary Simpson was deeply saddened since he and his wife look forward to the concert every year. It's a nice mix of music and the "price is right," he added.
Attending the concerts helps him reconnect with the military, Simpson said. He was in the military for four years and fought during the Vietnam War.
And he makes sure to wear his Army shirt at every performance.
"This is really good for the community," he said. "It lets people know there's more to the military than going to war."
Rory Cherry, the band's chief musician, said he was unable to comment on the decision behind the changes. But the band, Cherry said, has always viewed the City Dock performance as their "No.1 gig."
"This is our home," he said. ___
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This article was written by Meredith Newman from The Capital, Annapolis, Md. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.