Let's Stay Sequestered: Obama Hosts Soul Show

President Obama kicked off the week in Connecticut with a rallying cry for new gun control measures hand-in-hand with Sandy Hook parents.

This afternoon, Obama sat down in the Oval Office with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel -- who, with a military, civilian, and contractor work force on edge about their jobs, is tasked with unveiling what could be a punishing presidential budget for the Pentagon tomorrow.

Over at the Senate tonight, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the motion to proceed to the gun-control package, which means the first vote to end debate and proceed to a vote on the bill will happen one hour after the upper chamber convenes Thursday.

This evening, just hours after Obama's chef Sam Kass told reporters he would be furloughed because of sequestration cuts, the White House rolled out the red carpet for a celebration of Memphis soul.

The White House that's still closed to public tours because of sequestration cuts.

The unveiling of Obama's severely tardy budget seemed to be the last thing on the mind of the president as he took a front-row seat in the East Room with his daughters and the first lady to toe-tap and finger-snap his way through a star-studded set.

Unfortunately, Al Green had to drop out of the "In Performance at the White House" installment. The "Let's Stay Together" singer previously couldn't make it to the inauguration because of scheduling conflicts.

“Al Green has suffered a back injury that will prevent him from traveling. It is an injury he has experienced before and a full recovery is expected," said JR Rich, senior vice-president for publicity at Blue Note Records. "He regrets he will not be able to perform before the president and first lady at this esteemed event.”

That left the first family with Alabama Shakes, William Bell, Steve Cropper, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Sam Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples and Justin Timberlake to perform at the fiesta, with Booker T. Jones as music director and band leader.

"Tonight, I am speaking not just as a president, but as one of America's best-known Al Green impersonators," Obama said. "…All I know is I've been looking forward to tonight because, let's face it, who does not love this music? These songs get us on the dance floor. Even the governor of Tennessee said he's going to dance tonight."

The president said soul music "is about the pain of being alone, the power of human connection, and the importance of treating each other right."

"After all, this is the music that asked us to try a little tenderness. It's the music that put Mr. Big Stuff in his place. And it's the music that challenged us to accept new ways of thinking with four timeless words: 'Can you dig it?'"