Oct 7, 2016
The Presidio’s military bands supported the ceremonial functions of the Army – from providing signals for maneuvers to sounding reveille. They also became an essential part of Bay Area culture, performing public concerts everywhere from seaside amusement parks to major civic occasions. In fact, musical luminaries – from trumpeter Chet Baker to members of the legendary Dave Brubeck Octet – got their start in the Presidio’s Sixth Army Band.
Take a look back at 140 years of Presidio band history as we explore the major role the Presidio bands played not just at the post but in the social and musical life of San Francisco and beyond.
On Thursday, November 10, 2016, we took a look back at 140 years of Presidio band history with a special presentation at the Presidio Officers’ Club. This mix of stories, images, video, and live music explored the major role the Presidio bands played not just at the post but in the social and musical life of San Francisco and beyond. Here are just a few of our favorite pics from the presentation:
Then: 1869 – 2nd Artillery Band
Marching bands in the 19th century didn’t skimp on style. The Second Artillery Band wore “light artillery battery,” including dark blue wool jackets with scarlet trimmings and caps, or shakos, with cords and horsetail plumes.
Then: 1898 – The Buglers
Sure, they don’t have the pomp and circumstance of our modern day marching bands, but military buglers served as the all-important alarm clock for the Presidio’s inhabitants. By sunrise, buglers played “Reveille” to signal to enlisted men it was time to rise (along with the sun); “Tattoo” signaled it was time for lights out.
Then: 1913 – 3rd Coast Artillery Band with Chief Musician Armand Putz
In its heyday, the Third Coast Artillery Band was all the rage in the Bay Area. From carnivals and movie premieres to concerts at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and the Panama Pacific International Exhibition, this Presidio-based band had star power. Plus they had a renowned bandmaster – Armand Putz, a conductor of drive and precision, who led the band for the first 25 years of the twentieth century. He was also known for his cornet solos, original compositions, and fencing skills.
Then: 1930 – 30th Infantry Band
Housed in the Montgomery Street Barracks, the 30th Infantry Band was stationed at the Presidio after World War I. The unit is pictured here marching on the Civil War Parade Ground. But San Francisco residents came to know and love them by hearing their tunes on the radio. They were known fondly as “San Francisco’s Own” 30th Infantry Band.
Then: 1955 – Sixth Army Pipe Band
The Sixth Army Pipe Band, clad in kilts and flourishing bagpipes, was known for their many public performances.
Then: 1964 – Sixth Army Band
The Sixth Army Band, led by Chief Warrant Officer Nathan A. Cammack, was big news around San Francisco – they gave 157 performances in 1963 and marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 1964.
Now: 2016 – Detachment 1, 40th Infantry Division Band
Even after the Presidio’s transition from post to park, talented musical groups still remain a part of the culture here. The Spirit of the 59th, musicians from Detachment 1, 40th Infantry Division Band, performed live at Presidio Dialogues – The Presidio Bands event at the Presidio Officers’ Club. Three members of the group are veterans of the Presidio’s Sixth Army Band.
Now: 2016 – To celebrate Fleet Week 2016, the US Navy Pacific Fleet Band performed at this season’s final Presidio Twilight event!