Performance at Houston

Mr. Bush asked if I would play the America concert for his friends in Houston. Of course we agreed. 

Houston is 1360 miles from Lapeer, and we had to be in Los Angeles in two days to catch a plane to Japan. But the airline schedules were so convoluted we realized we couldn't fly to Houston, we had to drive in order to make our connections. 

As we approached Houston we couldn't help but notice the enormity of where we were going...

We noticed a familiar name on an airport we were passing north of town.

... and we were going to his house...

We posed for a picture in front of Mr. Bush's office building.

There was no question about who owned the building. 

Mr. Bush showed us where the performance would be. I tried out the piano.

Then he took us to his office on the top floor.

Mr. Bush's assistant shows us a collection of historic shotguns in the office.

And, amazingly, the President of the United States had his old "little toy soldier" collection set up in a glass case! We learned he would move the pieces around from time to time!

Mr. Bush poses on a couch with the "ship's bell" in the background. This was the bell that would later go on the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush. He said to us, in all humility... 

"Can you imagine they're naming an aircraft carrier after me?"

Note: because Mr. Bush was always joking and smiling, we asked him to take a serious pose for a change. As you can see, he couldn't keep from smirking.

Mary, a secretary, shows us the paintings, medals, and awards hanging on the walls. There were several hallways filled with these awards and declarations. It was, frankly, mind blowing. 

When Mr. Bush's guests arrived they were all treated to a tour of his office before the concert. 

Linda and I have dear friends in Houston. Mr. Bush graciously invited JP and Mary-Jon Bryan to attend.

Mr. Bush introduces me to his guests. Barbara has grabbed the best seat in the house where she can see the keyboard.

As the 45-minute non-stop medley of American songs comes to a close with the Star Spangled Banner, the audience has already begun a standing ovation. 

Mr. Bush comes out of his chair to thank me. 

Barbara is beaming. She told me later...

"How is it that you never play this the same way twice?"

Mr. Bush gives the closing remarks. 

Notice how a lady is weeping with emotion on the left. Barbara, Mr. Bush, and myself all had tears in our eyes. The songs of America are very stirring and emotional.

Following the performance we adjourned to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Mr. & Mrs. Bush had gone home, but Linda and I had the tremendous experience of sitting there with his office staff into the night and listening to their stories. 

The next morning, to keep on our schedule, we had to get up early for the 1600 mile across the deserts to get to Los Angeles. (Map below). My next gig was with the Japanese Embassy in Tokyo. They'd planned a ten-week concert tour of their country. 

A letter was waiting when we got home...