MARK209 Sings for Bush Family
||CLICK PHOTO TO READ OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Some of you may have seen the press releases floating around about us singing at the Bush Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine for both Presidents Bush and their families. But you being a subscriber to our newsletter, you are going to get the full extended version. It's the news you didn't get in the official press release ...
The Complete Untold Story
This is a testament to how God has His hand on things and just works things out. Many have posted saying we were lucky. Actually, we just have the hand of God on us and we received favor ... it's not luck.
This story started a year ago while we were performing in New England in October. A man named Jim had been invited by a pastor to come and see us at his church. This guy is from Texas and is a fan of quartet music. Jim later told us that the morning we were supposed to be at that church, he got up and really did not want to go. But he told himself that he had promised the pastor that he was going to come and he wanted to keep his word. So he showed up and to his surprise he thoroughly enjoyed our service. He came to the group members afterward and introduced himself and told how he also sang with a mixed quartet. Jim asked the pastor where else he could see us while we were on our New England tour. The pastor had him contact Steve (one of our New England contacts) and Steve told him of the following dates we had coming up over the next few days. Jim showed up to the one in Newmarket, New Hampshire and there he introduced himself to Steve and requested that next year we go to a church in Maine.
The next year when we were booking our tour, Jim was called and took a date to bring us into Maine. After the concert, since we had never been to that area of Maine, Jim offered to take us to dinner and show us the sights on our drive. It was late and it was difficult to see the beauty of the area in the dark, so he offered to give us a daytime tour if we had a day off. We only had one day off in this three week tour and it was the following Tuesday. Jim planned not only sightseeing for us, but also a sailboat ride. We were excited not to have to spend our day off stuck on the bus. We met up with Jim and his wife and they proceeded to show us around Kennebunkport. We saw all the typical tourist stuff, being the nerds we are.
When Jim took us out that first night, he drove by Walker's Point (The Bush Compound ... Summer home of President George H.W. (#41) and Barbara Bush). All we could see was the lights from the buildings. Our Jym kept asking to be let out so he could sneak on the compound and take a photo of himself. Jym swore he could outrun the secret service, but Jim and the guys assured him that he couldn't outrun the bullets. It was funny and they all laughed at the idea of Jym trying to outrun the secret service.
View of Walker's Point (Bush Compound)
from the observation area.
When we returned on Tuesday for our sightseeing and boating tour
, we met Jim and his wife and they started
showing us the sights in Kennebunkport. When we came back to the area of the Bush Compound, we pulled back up to the observation area that we had been to a few nights before, so we could take photos of it across the water. After acting like fools climbing on the rocks and taking photos like all tourists, Jim told us that we
needed to leave because we had a meeting we needed to get to. What I didn't mention previously, Jim was trying to bring our Christmas Concert into a Music Theatre in Maine and we just thought that we were headed to a meeting with the theatre manager/owner. We all piled up in one car and took off. As we pulled up to the entrance to the Bush Compound, Jim turned in. At first, we just thought he was using their drive to turn around. But he pulled up to the gate. We had no idea what was going on. After talking with the guard at the gate, we were met by President Bush's aide, Evan, who lead us onto the compound and to the parking area. We got out and Jim explained to us how he had arranged for us to have a tour of the grounds so that Jym could get his photo on the compound without having the concern of being shot. Well, as you can all imagine, we were thrilled.
As we walked the grounds, Evan pointed out what each building was ... Jeb's new home, the Secret Service building, the grandchildren playing in the distance, Pres. H.W.'s Office Building ... and then we went inside. We were being shown President George Herbert Walker Bush's Office ... SO COOL! When we came around the corner, we were surprised to see people in the
Our typical tourist photos. Interesting read.
Blow it up to read it.
office (Let me interject this: we were not cleared, nor supposed to see any of the Bush family). Sitting in the office was George (NOT BUSH ... but the man who owns the theatre where Jim was wanting to bring our Christmas show) and Margaret Bush (Daughter-in-law to President George and Barbara Bush). Margaret is an actress/singer and she was running lines with George. It was simply by chance that they just happened to be in there. Jim had been wanting to introduce us to George to talk about bringing the Christmas show to his theatre and this was a wonderful opportunity. Small talk ensued and pretty soon we were talking about the Christmas show, our wives and kids, etc. George and Margaret then asked us to sing a song. So we did.
beginning to sing, we were joined by
Chief of Staff who came downstairs from her office. We sang "In The Garden" (or "In The Gahden" as they say in New England). We were then asked to sing "Amazing Grace" which we were glad to do. Jym said before he began to sing that he had sung in front of thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands and he'd never been nervous. But for this small group in the President's office, he was terrified ... even scrambling his brain for lyrics to two church hymn standards.
After this impromptu performance (or as it was, audition?), we left the office and
continued with our tour of their property.
We went to President Bush's fishing hut, where he stores his rod and reels and ties his fishing flies. As many of you surely know, President Bush loves to fly fish. Again, we are just tourists, taking photos as we go along.
We then headed to the Gym to see that and as we turned the corner Evan instructed us to stop and go back the way we had come. He told us that President George W. Bush (#43) was around the corner. Remember, we were not supposed to be around them. So we backed away and waited. As we were waiting, a golf cart came flying past us. It was Barbara Bush and she had her two dogs with her. Evan greeted her and she passed by and said, "Can't stop, on a mission" as she waved. She went the same direction as President G.W. Bush, so I assumed she was headed to see him. Now we have two of the Bush family around the corner and we were stuck. To stay out of the way, we walked back toward the fishing hut. We watched all the people across the water at the observation point looking toward us and we got to talking about that and how it was like living in a fish bowl. Dustin came up with the bright idea to take off running across the lawn and have Evan tackle him so that all the tourists across the water would be wondering what was going on. Evan explained that if Dustin took off running, he wouldn't have to tackle him .. (ha ha). Dustin then began to talk about the "ducks" in the water and how they were probably "not really ducks ... are they, Evan?" To which Evan said, "We don't talk about the duck!" And we all had a good laugh. Ray was up to something and Dustin told him that he all the sudden broke out with red dots all over his face (insinuating that it was laser pointers from guns). Evan looked at Ray while pulling on his RIGHT earlobe and said, "As long as I don't pull on my LEFT earlobe." It was really funny. We were having a great time laughing. We were getting ready to end our tour when Barbara Bush came riding around the corner in her golf cart. She drove up to us and said, "Mission completed." She greeted Evan and we introduced ourselves. Her two little dogs were with her and as soon as she stopped, they hopped off and began to run around our feet. Ray loves dogs, so he was all over that. After a short visit, she called her dogs, they jumped aboard and she pulled away. She is a very kind and fun lady. We ended our tour after she left.
We left the compound and decided to stop by the theatre where we wanted to bring our Christmas show before we headed to the boat. Remember, we were going out on a boat that day. After we toured the theatre, Jim told us that we were not going to be able to go out on the boat. Some lie about the weather. And then he said, but instead, you have been invited by the Bush family to come back to their home and perform for them after dinner. What!?!?! Holy Cow! First let me explain this ... we were dressed to go out sightseeing and boating (you can see what we are wearing in the photo above). It was our day off. We were wearing shorts and t-shirts ... no one had shaved ... Dustin had paint on his shorts and sneakers. Probably most of us hadn't even put deodorant on. It was our day off!! We'd traveled up there in a car and Yellow Bus was 2 hours away. It was 4:30p and we were supposed to perform for them at 6:30p.
We had less than two hours until we had to be back at the Bush Compound!
Jim suggested that there was a department store up the road, so away we went. That is the fastest shopping we have even done. Shirts, pants, shoes ... Oh the horror, Jym couldn't find a paisley shirt (it's only special high-end stores that carry those). We then ran to Walmart to get toiletries. Most of us were wearing baseball caps, so we all had hat hair ... needed to shave ... spray on some foo-foo (southern for "cologne").
We got everything we needed at the stores. Now we needed a place to change and get cleaned up. You know we were singing for TWO Presidents and again Yellow Bus is two hours away. We asked Jim if there was a gas station or
truck-stop nearby that we could run into and clean up. He made a phone call and started driving. Where was he driving, you ask? Back to the Bush Compound. He had gotten permission for us to get ready in President Bush's
restroom in his office. So there we were, just good ol' southern boys shaving and doing our hair in President Bush's restroom! We had no tracks so our only option was to sing a cappella. We were told to be prepared to sing 3-4 songs, so we put together a short list of possibles and stepped into the office to warm up and run over a couple of numbers that we hadn't sung in a while. We no more than finished one song when Evan came around the corner and said, "Let's go ... they're ready for you." We were instructed not to talk, just sing (Do you know how difficult that is for Nate?!?); only speak when spoken to and don't sit down. Remember we were just entertainment for them after dinner. Evan said that when he gets the nod from the Bush family, he will cut us off and take us out. Here we go!
We rode up to the big house and walked up to the door. We were greeted by Margaret Bush and Barbara Bush's two little dogs. While admiring the dogs we heard, "Welcome fellas, come on in!" ... it's President George W. Bush. Jym looked up and said out loud, "Oh my gosh, it's George W. Bush!" George began asking everyone their name. Nathaniel introduced himself to which George responded, "Nathaniel ... I'm gonna call you Nat." George and Margaret escorted us toward the living room where we met Marvin Bush (Margaret's husband), Laura Bush, President George H.W. Bush and Barbara and Doro Bush Koch. George and Barbara were sitting in chairs and Laura and Marvin were on the couch to the left. After quick greetings, George W. arranged everyone to stand around his mother and father for a photo (That is the photo at the top of this newsletter). He asked us where we each lived. Jym told him "Cut and Shoot, Texas" and George responded "Montgomery County!" Marvin asked where Cut and Shoot was and George explained it was just north of Houston up by Conroe. Ray told H.W. how he had seen him at his brother's graduation at Liberty University. Barbara asked if Ray graduated from there and Ray responded No, to which George W. said, "He didn't graduate", and laughed We were just laughing and having fun. Small chit chat about where we were from and how MARK209 came to be continued and George W. sat down on the couch and invited us to all sit down and visit for a while. Since we had been told not to sit, we all looked to Evan as to get permission. He kind of shrugged his
and motioned his hands for us to go ahead. Marvin
over on the couch so Nate could sit down between him and Laura. Dustin sat next to G.W. and visited with him and Barbara. Ray sat on the couch with Doro and Jym stood near them. During this time the talk went from everyone in the room talking together about the same subject to individual conversations with the people near us. They were very welcoming and we really enjoyed getting to visit and share with them.
THE FIRST SONG WE SANG
Someone mentioned about us singing for them and we began to stand at one end of the room and tell them more about us and what we were going to sing. Right around this time, Marvin looked up and said, "There's my favorite little niece, let's wait on her." Then Georgia Bush (5 year old daughter of Jeb Bush) came in the room. She sat with Marvin and we quickly decided to start things with a song for Georgia. Nate told the story of how when we sang at Potters Grove Tabernacle in South Glens Falls, New York, we were taking request and a young boy on the front row frantically raised his hand. Nate called on the boy expecting him to request
Jesus Loves Me
or something of the sort. Instead he loudly exclaimed, "Itsy Bitsy Spider!" To which we did for the Bushes the same thing we did at Potters Grove ... we broke into
Itsy Bitsy Spider
in four part harmony, even with hand motions. So the first song we sang for TWO former leaders of the free world? Itsy Bitsy Spider.
Singing for the Bush family in their living room.
Barbara Bush, Pres. GW Bush, and Margaret Bush shown seated to left.
In The Garden and
I'll Fly Away. Nate told them about us singing at Elvis Week and we then sang
Sweet Sweet Spirit. It was requested we sing
Amazing Grace, which we did next.
While talking with them previously about MARK209 and what we do, we had told them about our Family Friendly program and us performing on the SeaShell stage in Hampton Beach and some of the songs we did there. Marvin spoke up and said that "Dad" would love to hear
Elvira, so we broke off into it. We announced that we would end with
How Great Thou Art and Laura asked if we could sing something of Elvis before we finished. So we sang
Cryin' In The Chapel and followed it with
How Great Thou Art.
We then went around and shook hands and hugged necks with the family before leaving. As Jym was shaking hands with President Bush, Sr., he pulled Jym up close and said how much he enjoyed it and wanted to know who to contact to have us come back and do a full concert. Jym gave him the information and we all left to head to Federal Jack's for dinner (we had not eaten all day).
When leaving the Bush Compound, Evan gave each of us a gift from President George and Barbara Bush. It was a President of the United States lapel pin. Engraved on the back is President Bush's signature along with the number 41.
We had a wonderful time visiting with the Bush Family. They were all very welcoming and just regular folks. Not only were we invited to return to their home in Maine for a full concert, but this week, when talking with Evan on the phone, he asked if we're in the Houston area during a certain period and if we are, to please give him a call and they would love to have us come to their winter home in Houston.
This was the biggest thrill as far as performing that we have ever had. It was a very small audience compared to what we normally do ... but WOW, we sang for two of the Presidents on the United States. Whether you agree with their politics or not ... they were both President of the United States. The greatest nation in the world.
God keep your hand on the United States of America and continue to bless us.
I hope you have enjoyed hearing the details about what happened. Please understand, this is not luck. This is God's blessings. I mean, seriously, how many Christian artists have sung for a President ... let alone, two of them ... in their private home? We tell people all the time to stay true to what God called you to do. Don't listen to man ... pray and listen to God.
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You know what? We never did get to go on that sailboat trip.