Guests at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem might have been rubbing their eyes in disbelief earlier this week if they walked into the hotel’s ballroom.
An impromptu “supergroup” consisting of former – and perhaps future – US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on bass, legendary entertainer Pat Boone on vocals and FOX News Jerusalem correspondent Mike Tobin on guitar were jamming away on a slew of early rock and blues oldies.
Huckabee, who was a Republican presidential nominee in 2008 and currently hosts a FOX News program, is leading 170 American Christians on a 10-day trip of the country, a tour that Boone and his wife Shirley, longtime ardent Israel supporters, helped to recruit for.
“It was loads of fun,” the 75-year-old Boone told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, the morning after the ad-hoc jam session.
Boone has sold over 45 million albums, had 38 Top 40 hits and starred in more than 12 movies during his ongoing 55-year-career.
“I suggested that we do ‘Ain’t That a Shame’ and told them that this was a million-seller for Fats [Domino] and for Pats. So we rocked the joint with it. I was surprised at how well and forcefully they all played on it without any rehearsal,” Boone said of the band, which also included Jerusalem-based guitarist Bradley Fish, and a pianist who had been hired to provide background dinner music at the hotel for the group.
Tobin, who occasionally performs with Fish in a local band, said he jumped at the chance to be part of the talent show.
“It was a blast. How many opportunities do you have to play with Pat Boone?” he said.
“He still has the indefinable command of the stage. And Huckabee’s the real deal. I’m really a bass player but I got outranked by him.”
Huckabee has played bass since he was a boy, and leads his own cover band called Huckabee.
According to Boone, the jam session was a fun-filled free for all.
“We then did another one of my best-sellers from the ’50s, ‘I Almost Lost My Mind,’ said Boone. “Then they jammed on some blues, and Bradley was great at making up blues lyrics and singing them in a growling voice.”
Other covers during the jam session included a rowdy version of the Roger Miller classic, “King of the Road” and as a special request from Huckabee’s wife Janet due to the setting outside the Old City walls, Boone sang one of his most famous songs, the “Theme to Exodus,” whose lyrics he wrote in the early 1960s following the 1960 release of the Otto Preminger film starring Paul Newman.
With lines like “This land is mine, God gave this land to me,” the song has become an anthem for Christian evangelical supporters of Israel
“It’s the second Jewish national anthem,” said Boone, whose squeaky-clean image in the 1950s cemented his reputation as the G-rated Elvis Presley.
“It’s a demanding song to sing, but I made it through and it seemed so appropriate. It’s only happened a few times when I’ve sung it, but it felt like the vocals and lyrics were coming through me, they had a life of their own. It was very moving.”
The rendition evidently also affected the rest of the group. Members of Huckabee’s delegation regularly sidled up to Boone over breakfast to compliment him on his performance.
Rich Buhler, a popular Christian radio talk show host, jokingly warned him not to sing the song again.
“I couldn’t stop crying, it was so powerful,” he said.A full interview with Pat Boone will appear in Sunday’s Post.
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