We are off to Schupfarten, Switzerland today…”we” being myself, the Billy Block Band, Danni Leigh, Heather Myles and Radney Foster.  We will be “in the air” longer than we are on the ground for this event.   Billy, the band and I departed Nashville to Detroit – with no problems.  Very short connection in Detroit, so we were running to get to the gate where they were already boarding the plane.  Danni met us in Detroit.  Got on the plane and then sat for over an hour because Northwest decided to wait for some passengers who were late making the connection.  Amazing to me because they have NEVER held the plane for me when my flight was late.  Go figure. So, this plane was the new Airbus that has been reconfigured and is the top of the line.  The seats in executive class recline to a flat position and there’s this little “pod” around your head to shield you from the other passengers.  I got all situated in my seat and started playing with numerous controls.  Then the flight attendant asked if I minded switching with one of the other passengers so he could sit with his wife.  Being the nice person that I am (yeah, right), I complied.  First thing I noticed was that my new seat was not comfortable.  The seat bottom was sort of elevated and no matter what button I pushed, I could not get it to sink down.   The new “in-seat video monitors” were much better.  They actually allow you to watch any movie you want at any time you want without having to “wait” for the movie to begin like on the old planes. Food was also much better.  I watched “Bruce Almighty” and embarrassed myself several times by laughing so loudly.  Then it was time to try and sleep for a couple of hours (short flight – only 7 hours).  Hit the “full recline” button and away I went.  Only, the seat turned into a “slant board”.  My body was totally straight with my head elevated!  No matter what I did, I could not get any “curvature” into the seat.  It was so miserable.  The nice man sitting next to me was also having a problem.  Then I looked down the aisle and saw one of the passengers with the flight attendant.  They were on their knees literally taking his seat apart!  Not a good sign.  Needless to say, I did not get any sleep nor did my seatmate.  The coach section was supposed to have been reconfigured so that there was more leg room.  Not true.  There was less leg room in that coach section than any airline we have taken all year.  (Sorry, Denny.  I’m sure it will be wonderful once all the kinks are worked out.  At least I got to “try out” the new plane!) Of course, we had a tight connection in Amsterdam and were again running for the plane.  I NEVER sit in a window seat and realized I had been assigned one for the flight to Zurich.  Did not have time to change it as they were already boarding when we arrived.  I got on the flight to find that I was squeezed against the window by two very tall “athletes”.  The one sitting next to me thought my hip bone was an armrest!  He used it the entire flight.  Guess I’ve lost enough weight.  Then there was this Dutch couple behind us and the lady NEVER shut up nor did she lower her voice.  She had this really shrill voice and, of course, the guttural inflections in her speech that are common in the Dutch language.  Landed in Zurich, got ALL our luggage and equipment, and headed out for the 1 hour bus ride to Schupfart.  It’s a beautiful little hotel in a tiny little town.  I immediately went to my room to begin working on the internet.  Could NOT connect.  I’ve stayed in this hotel numerous times but for some reason, cannot sign on this time.   I was finally able to connect via my cell phone for I’m sure $100 a minute.  So, if you don’t get this road report until I get home, you’ll know why!  Heather arrived later in the afternoon and Radney Foster and his guitar player come in tomorrow morning.  We had an incredible meal at the hotel restaurant.  I’ve worked with this buyer for years and he’s one of the best.  Really knows how to take care of the little details, which I love.   The musicians went to a shopping mall and then over to the festival.  Tonight is “rock night” and tomorrow night is “country night”.  I missed out on all of this because I was trying to get my internet connection working! So, it’s almost midnight and I’m hoping to go to bed soon.   Tomorrow will start with a 5 mile jog (lots of hills!), then sound check, then the show.  Should be back at the hotel at 3:30 am Sunday morning for a 7:30 am departure to the airport! Jude

ROAD KILL – DAY TWO – SEPTEMBER 27TH So, the heat wave that is supposed to be over in Europe is still lingering in this hotel.  Room is fine with the window and curtains open.  But I closed the curtains and then had to get back up and open them because it was so hot.  Laid back down only to find a “spotlight” in my eyes.  At first I thought it was the moon but it was actually a street lamp that NEVER went out all night long!  Of course, there was also the problem of train tracks right outside the window and trains going by every 15 minutes it seemed.  Interesting night. Weather this morning was perfect for a jog.  No humidity and probably around 45-50 degrees.  AND I found a place to jog that was flat.  Last time I was here, the promoter sent me up a mountain and I was not looking forward to the jog again.  I’m not much of a “hill” person. We do not have the attacking shower heads at this hotel but we do have the temperature fluctuation.  There is NO water pressure in the shower.  Then, you’ll be standing there and the pressure gets a sudden spurt of power.  That’s your clue that when it loses pressure again, you have about 3 seconds to jump out from under the spray or risk getting scalded.  I thought it was just my shower but upon checking with the others in the group, learned that it is universal.  Sound check was so easy. Stage was completely set up and production company had everything we had requested.  I went to the market after soundcheck to buy Swiss chocolates for friends and to take to Japan in a couple of weeks as gifts.  Spent over $200 on chocolate and coffee!  Now the bag that I brought filled with cds for the Interlaken promoters is filled with coffee and chocolate.  Good planning.  Cannot get my cell phone modem to connect anymore, so this will not go out until I get back to the states.  Definitely having my computer worked on this Monday.  I am not a nice person to be around when I can’t access my email! Off to the show at 10:30 pm tonight.  Going to be a short night… There were about 5,000 people at the festival inside a huge tent-like building.  Our sets did not even begin until 11:30 pm and the audience had already been there since 4:00 pm that afternoon.  Was sitting out at the autograph table with Radney Foster and some lady came up and asked me if I was on next.  Hmmmm…. No problems until the very end when Danni Leigh was singing her last song.  The lead guitar player kicked off the wrong song.  From out front, it sounded like Danni and a DRUM solo.  Very interesting. The front desk at this little hotel is never “manned”.  I was behind the counter making copies and working on the computer this afternoon.  Everyone is extremely nice and the food is fantastic but it’s definitely a “mom and pop” production.  Which means there is no one to give wakeup calls.  The lead guitar player asked for one tonight at 9 pm before the show and no one ever called.  So, it’s 3:30 am now.  I’m going to take a shower, call Radney at 5:30 am, then meet him in the lobby at 6 am for his departure.  Call all the band at 6:45-7:00 am and leave for the airport.  Sure hope I can sleep on the plane. Jude

ROAD KILL – DAY THREE – SEPTEMBER 28TH Never did get my AOL to connect again!  No sleep at all for anyone.  Everyone except Radney and Heather just stayed up all night long.   Arrived at the airport just minutes before the “rush” of travelers checking in.  Made our way to the gate where several of the guys stretched out in the waiting area.  Eventually the seats started filling in and some of the passengers were irate about the bodies sprawled across the seats.  Easy flight on KLM from Zurich to Amsterdam.  When I boarded the NW flight, I was praying that it wouldn’t be one of the new Air Buses.  Funny…I was SO looking forward to trying the new planes and “fully reclineable seats” before my experience on the way over.  Forgot to mention that when I was trying to get the seat “adjusted” on the flight over, I managed to trap the blanket in the foot rest.  It was freezing on the airplane (as it usually is) and I had just gotten the seat all the way back down (for the 3rd time) and reached down to pull the blanket up.  It would only come to my waist.  No amount of tugging and eventually yanking could pry it loose.  So, up went the seat back and I had to stand and untangle it from the seat.  Put the seat back again and was just getting settled on the “slant board” when I got a massive cramp in my foot.  You KNOW the kind.  You have to get up and run around IMMEDIATELY.  Anyway, I digress.  It was the new Air Bus, so I’m thinking I HAVE to get some sleep.  The flight was full, so going back into coach was not even an option.  I was determined to figure out some way to sleep and now I know the trick to the new seats.  There is a built-in head rest in the seat but it’s not the kind that’s on top of the seat.  It is actually in the seat back and you have to know how to slide it up and down on a “track”.  If you get the head rest situated just right, you can get your back in a position that has a little curvature and not slide out of the seat while you’re sleeping.  Another “flaw” in the new plane is the toilet in Executive Class.  The galley is small and you must walk through the galley to get to the toilet.  Doors and drawers are open and the flight attendants are always busy with something.  They are not happy with the location of the toilet either.  Said no one bothered to ask them though. So, made it to Detroit and Nashville and now I’ll be working all night trying to catch up from being gone….oops already worked all “night”.  It’s after midnight.  Off to Scottsdale on Tuesday and Atlantic City this weekend.  No road reports from those cities though! Jude