Texas Weekend


Here we are in Texas again after only one short year. That’s wonderful to be able to return to any neighborhood and have the local promoter expecting a full house. And once again, we began the Texas run with a visit to the ever-fabulous laughing and fun Tom Joyner program in Dallas. At 7:45am. Well…. I was in the gym at 6am. I must be taking crazy pills.

The Red Velvet Cake Studio, Tom’s place, is like a trip to Disneyland for grown-ups—Everything but a roller coaster. Puffy stuffed multi-colored walls, and over-sized dolls and furniture, and toys that make you feel like a five-year-old. And there’s Tom on the other side of the console, smiling and laughing and bobbing his head to the music with this expression on his face that still says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” And all of his audience and listeners get that. We talked about everything and had a good time.

Then off we went to rehearse in Longview at LeTourneau University, where we would play the following night. I truly wish we were doing more colleges and universities. As we walk across the stage, right there center stage, commanding everybody’s attention was a baker’s dozen red roses in a beautiful vase. (Last time, she brought a dozen and reminded me that we laughed about the “Baker’s Dozen.”) Just to her right was a lady with a sign two feet tall and five feet long with wonderful gazette-type script with the title of a song. This set a wonderful tone for the entire evening… Warm and friendly with a Longview audience hanging out with me for the first time.

Once again, this new program that is a kind of ‘rainbow ride’ through the very first music that I recorded and sang for any audience anywhere was a big hit. We Got By, You Don’t See Me, Sweet Potato Pie, and Look to the Rainbow. Felt new again. The band just sparkles and flashes doing this music… Audible gasps when Larry plays flute and John solos on acoustic guitar, and Joe makes them forget about Sanborn and Coltrane when he plays soprano.

We signed a bunch of CDs afterwards in the lobby, and I kissed some hands and shook some babies. ☺


Very unusual day in that we drove passenger vehicles from the last engagement. Very unusual! Normally when there is a drive, we make that drive on a touring bus. So there we all were in a passenger van, rolling along on the road by noon and having a fun time—the whole band. That was great, even though we lost our way for a few minutes.

I had never been to Richardson, Texas, and both I and the audience really enjoyed this first meeting and hand-shake, so to speak. I hope you don’t get bored with my continuously speaking about new situations and new audiences that we’re meeting for the first time. New faces, new venues, new situations equal new inspirations for me and the band. And if it’s new for us, it’ll be new for the audience.

We did an intermission evening that was casual and un-hurried and had that “long evening with Al Jarreau” effect. The audience was wonderful, and we all had a great night. We signed CDs in the lobby after the performance. There was a very helpful usher making sure everyone was in order (Thank you!) and someone even proposed, down on one knee with a ring and all, to his sweetheart—right there in front of me! NED and BJ PIERRON, classmates of mine from Rippon College, were there. We hugged and cried and hugged and cried, and did a lot of smiling, too. And dear sweet Valerie Strong was there, showing me pictures of her baby. We worked on the literacy program just a few years ago—Verizon—A million books to a million kids. And probably more in dollars to literacy programs around the country.

Thank you, Richardson, TX—Let’s do this again!


We had another wonderful van drive, me and the band, with me enjoying my exercises/vocal warm-up program. I have always felt something missing in my touring with never having a date in Austin, TX. If you don’t know, boys and girls, let me tell you that this is a music center and music capital of the world that rivals Los Angeles, New York, Memphis, and MoTown in its very own special way. Flattering to be invited.

So a real big thank you to Hartt Stearns, our promoter, who did a short, classy introduction of me and the group. (I love that first name Hartt.) Riverbend Center is an amazing venue. It feels like the Berlin Philharmonic but instead of a pipe organ behind the performers, there were windows looking right outside.

The audience was warm and friendly and musically smart. They caught all the nuances spoken and played. Feeling loved and appreciated by this audience was truly thrilling for me. I told Hartt I’d like to come back tomorrow.

Marion Jones, the Olympic Track star, was there and hung out after the show for 15 minutes to offer me her own special hello… She said she’d been listening to me for a very long time… Hello! My old assistant Chris Floyd’s mom was there and brought 15 guests and bought CDs for all of them, and hugged me like I was her big brother. Thank you, Marilyn. Thank you, Hartt. Thank you, Austin.

What a wonderful weekend!

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