Bellamy Brothers travel to Australia, New Caladonia, Japan and Guam
Left Nashville on Monday, September 20, to fly to New Caledonia. Flights were fine considering I HATE to fly. Landed in Sydney 3 days later, Wednesday, September 22nd. Couldn’t find the lady who was supposed to meet us and spent an hour searching for her. Finally met up with her and a representative from the Bellamy’s record label. The label rep was a charming man who insisted that he take us to his apartment on the beach in Sydney to shower rather than using the showers in the airport.
He crammed all 5 of us – me, Howard, David, and Susan Bellamy, and him – into a small Mitsubishi Mirage and proceeded to drive like a maniac through the streets of Sydney. He had on a wool jacket and had the window rolled down. Susan and I were frozen by the time we reached his apartment an hour later. By the time we finally reached his apartment, there was only 30 minutes for all 4 of us to shower. After taking a look at this bachelor pad and the things growing in the shower, Susan and I decided to let the guys shower and we’d just “freshen up”. We changed in his bedroom and Susan dropped something out of one of her bags and it rolled under the bed. We got down on our hands and knees to try and retrieve it, but one look under the bed convinced us that no matter what it was, it wasn’t worthwhile.
David and Howard took showers and there was a window in the bathroom. Some guy was outside on scaffolding talking to them while they were in the shower! We then proceeded to do 4 great radio interviews and rush back to the airport for the flight to New Caledonia.
Landed in New Caledonia at 7pm. Wally was trying to clear customs with all the band gear and one of the officials took him aside and into a private room. Wally thought we were probably in trouble and not going to get the gear in. The official told Wally that he loves country music but didn’t want his co-workers to know. Said he sings in 3 different languages and proceeded to sing “More of You” in its entirety, imitating David Bellamy throughout. Although it was really horrible, Wally assured him that he had a promising career in country music and we were cleared to go.
Got to the hotel and checked in and found that I had an inch of water on my bathroom floor. After dealing with that for an hour, we learned that Club Med in Noumea is where all the swinging singles come to find partners. There are people of all ages. Lots of little kids and also lots of senior citizens. Haven’t quite figured out what’s happening, but Susan gets hit on every time she leaves the room
Spent 3 hours trying to make an AT&T call to the U.S. It just doesn’t happen! Had to register my credit card and was assured that it would be kept on file throughout my visit here so that I would not have to spend an hour registering it again. Got up to make a call this morning and guess what – had to register the card again!
Took a shower and the water pressure was so strong that the shower curtain blows out of the tub. Guess that’s where the inch of water comes from. It’s one of those hand-held showers that you can hang on a hook above your head. I leaned over to turn the shower off by switching it back to the tub facets. When I pushed the lever, the water switched over and the hand-held refused to turn off and the wand flew off the hook and hit me in the head, nearly knocking me out. Got a nice knot on the head. Then, the water refused to turn off. I turned and turned, used towels, tried everything and the cold water kept running full force. Called maintenance and a man came up and worked on it and left. I was drying my hair in the bedroom and heard something in my bathroom. Walked in and he was in back in there – didn’t knock, just used his key and came in.
Susan, David and I had to go meet the “chief” of the island tribe while Howard did a radio interview. The chief must bless the concert before the Bellamys perform….We had been driving for about 45 minutes when the driver’s cell phone rang. He handed the phone to David and David explained that the radio station – who was a sponsor of the show – was upset that he was not coming for the interview and there was a “fight” taking place between the Chief and the radio station. Driver did a U-turn and took us back to the radio station, which was about 1 mile from our hotel. Nice little tour of the island though….
Had a migraine again at 1:30 this morning. Weather is lousy – rainy and windy and they say it’s been this way for 2 weeks. I can’t come to New Caledonia for a week and not get a tan!
More later. Glamorous life on the road….
We’ve had 4 days on this beautiful South Pacific Island and today is the first day we’ve had sunshine. So, of course, we all went out to the beach and fried ourselves.
We’ve now had 3 sold out shows and the response has been incredible. The fans have all the cds and buy everything that is new. It is so strange to me that the Bellamys have such a large fan base.
Our promoter had brought in a French Reggae Band from Paris to perform at the Soccer Stadium. They’ve been here a week and are the rudest, most obnoxious men we’ve ever met. They are fighting amongst themselves (imagine that in a band) and offending all the hotel staff and guests. Of course, their rooms are right next door to Howard and David. Howard has called security every night as they party really loud until the wee hours of the morning. Their one show which was scheduled for Saturday night was cancelled because the soccer players didn’t want them using their stadium. Things definitely move at a difference pace here.
All the beaches are topless and the women all wear those little thong bottoms. Susan and I, in our 2 piece suits, might as well wear a huge neon sign flashing “Americans”. I think we’ve finally figured out the “Club Med” concept. At first we thought everyone was really friendly. Actually, everyone that is here is only here for one purpose….to pick up someone of the opposite and/or same sex. Even the staff consistently hits on the guests. It’s sort of like a stationary cruise ship —activities planned all day and the same staff you see cooking and waiting tables, will be teaching aerobics, archery, snorkeling, etc., during the day.
Howard decided that we should take a drive of the island today. I called the promoter to try and get a car and he advised me that “Jean Claude” was in the lobby waiting for us. We kept seeing this “native” in the lobby and he would always jump up and walk us to the door and say things in French whenever we came through the lobby. He doesn’t speak a word of English. Today we learn that he has been there for 4 days with the sole purpose of driving us anywhere we wanted to go!
We had the front desk give him directions to where we wanted to go but he obviously didn’t listen very well as we drove for hours and never found “a beautiful beach” or a “hilltop restaurant overlooking Noumea”. Howard spotted some cattle that he wanted to take a picture of and tried to relay this to the driver. The driver thought we wanted to go to the “bar” (is “cow” French for “bar”, I wonder?) and pulled into a private driveway. The driveway was clearly marked “Private Drive. Do Not Enter”, but he just smiled and kept going. Until we came to a very steep incline and the van could not drive up the dirt road. He backed all the way down the hill, got a running start and pulled into someone’s driveway. We tried to stop him, but he got out of the van and went to knock on their door. Just as we were breathing a sigh of relieve because no one was home, and we were driving back out of their driveway, the family pulled in. Of course they were staring at us and wondering why we were at their home. Again, against our advice, the driver got out and went to talk to the family. After quite a few minutes of conversation, they started waving at us and came running over to the van. Howard was sitting in the front and they opening his door and started hugging and kissing him. Fortunately, they did speak English and kept saying, “What a surprise!” They said they have all the Bellamys cds and are huge fans. And to think they come home and find them sitting in their driveway.
Today we went to the most beautiful island I’ve ever seen. Even more beautiful than Maui, the Caribbean, Cancun…it was like someone make a movie set for the most beautiful tropical paradise imaginable. It is called Isle de Pins and was a 30 minute flight from Noumea. We flew on a little 8 seat Cessna in wind that was blowing at 30 knots, so that was interesting. The Meridian Hotel is located on the island and there are all these natural swimming pools made by the water in the lagoons. We walked from the hotel to the other side of the island along the beach. Our native guide was walking in front of us and I was right behind him. We were walking through the water which was never more than knee deep. Without warning, the sand turned to coral and started slicing our feet to shreds. The guide never broke stride. I think his feet are made of leather. We were all hopping around, trying to find something to stand on and trying not to fall into the water with our cameras.
Once we reached the lagoon, the swimming and snorkeling was unbelievable. We stopped and visited one of the villages on the way back to the hotel where the natives live in huts. We passed some “natives” on the beach carving out a canoe and then a wild-looking man in a loin cloth and dreadlocks came running out of a thatched hut waving his arms. When he got closer, we realized he had a Bellamy Brothers photo and wanted an autograph! David’s comment was, “Let Garth Brooks top that”! Interesting to know that only 100 years ago, the island was made up totally of cannibals. When we arrived back at the hotel, all the staff was waiting for autographs. They said that the Bellamys visit was more important than Michael Jackson.
Everyone is our group was covered with #30 sunblock except for me. I didn’t use anything and didn’t burn at all. Kiki (our native Kanak host) said, “Ju-dee, you come to the island as Misses Barry White and you leave as Misses James Brown”.
Susan and I went jogging our usual 6 miles when we got back to Club Med, but it had gotten dark and we took a different path along the beach. I was looking at my watch and not where I was going. Tripped over a curb and went face down on the asphalt. So now, the bottom of my feet are cut to shreds and bruised, I have no skin on my left knee and left palm and it feels like I cracked a rib. But, we had a wonderful day. Tomorrow night is our last show in New Caledonia. We depart the hotel at 4:30 am for Sydney on the 30th.
The French Reggae Band is still stuck at the airport as far as we know. Their visas expired. With our luck, they will get on our flight and be sitting right beside us on Thursday!
Tomorrow morning, Susan, David, George and I are going to get tattooed by a Tahitian Artist….
Road Report Park IV:
We got our tattoos only Susan and George chickened out. David and I went and I wanted two little “seals” on my ankle. But the tattoo artist only spoke French and the only “photos” he had to pick a design from were of “dolphins”. Ended up getting “Indian Feathers” on my left shoulder.
No problem getting out of New Caledonia and the French Reggae Band was NOT on our flight. As beautiful as New Caledonia was, it was nice to get back to Australia and “civilization”. My telephone bill for the week in New Caledonia was $400 and that was just for flash sessions on email! Can’t say that we’ll miss the attacking shower head either. I had actually gotten to a point where my hearing was so attuned to the noise it made right before blowing off the wall and spraying down the entire bathroom, that I could tell when it was going to happen and manage to duck out of the way each time.
First show in Twin Towns on the Gold Coast. Beautiful area. We sold over 900 tickets in a 1,000 seat venue. I jogged along the beach and had been running for 25 minutes which is about 2 ½ miles for me. Turned around and headed back and there was our hotel where I had started 25 minutes earlier right in front of me. Really confusing. The beach seems to “wrap around” and double back. Took David and Susan for a walk along the beach path and Susan almost stepped on a “Devil Lizard”. She didn’t see it and it scared me, David, and the lizard a lot more than her.
Susan and I went to a Wildlife Sanctuary and go to hold a Koala Bear and pet the kangaroos. It was totally awesome. Koala eat Eucalyptus tree leaves, so they are “stoned” all the time. Their entire purpose is life is to eat, sleep, and mate. Getting quite an education while I’m in Australia.
Second show was in Emerald, Austrailia. Flew up on a tiny 20 seater called “Sun State Airlines”. Our flight attendant was a female “Mrs. Bean”. Took her job very seriously. She came by and woke Susan up several times to ask her if she had her seat belt on. David was asleep and she slapped him on the leg and woke him up yelling, “You’ve messed up the Track Lighting”. Wally informed her that he had accidentally messed up the track lighting and she pointed her finger at him and yelled, “You did it!” Just before landing when she made the announcement, she encouraged everyone to read their safety instruction card again. Then she came back on the intercom and asked everyone to locate their emergency exits again. We expected her to request us to put our heads between our knees just as a precaution any moment.
Show in Emerald was fantastic – 8,000 country music fans. Went on late and didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 2 am. Had to be in the lobby at 8:00 am to fly back so Sydney. We were praying for a different flight attendant and someone, I’m not sure how, heard us. This one was worst. She insisted that we all take off our “neck wallets”. These are cute little cloth pouches about the size of a wallet that I had given everyone to put their laminates, money, business cards, etc. in. Said we had to remove them before the plane would fly! I suppose there must be a lot of incidents of passengers hanging themselves during turbulence with these.
Susan and I did last minute “panic shopping” and purchased 9 pairs of boots between the 2 of us! Third and final show in Wollongong was the best yet. Packed the Yallah Woolshed. Sam Laws and fiancé came and James Moss with Festival Records attended the show. The crowd was terrific. There were a group of Americans in the audience and one of the guys was from the same little town that I grew up in Alabama. We started talking and we were about the same age and knew all the same “rednecks”!
I think I must have made Wally mad because he checked everyone in while Susan and I were shopping and he gave me a “handicapped” room. There are rails everywhere and everything is at “knee level”! I have to bend double to wash my face in the bathroom sink. When sitting on the toilet, my feet don’t touch the floor.
Flying to Japan tomorrow. We’re only 90 miles from where the nuclear explosion took place a few days ago. The Pentagon assures us that we are in no danger. Why do we not find that reassuring?
Road Report part V:
After having 2 hours sleep one night and 3 hours sleep the next night, we had a 9 hour flight from Sydney to Osaka, a 4 hour layover, and another hour and one half flight to Tokyo. Were met by our “military escort” and had a 2 hour bus ride to Atsugi. He insisted on giving us our briefing on the bus when everyone was totally fried. Howard was sitting right in front of him and started messing with his air conditioner vent during his speech. He was highly offended and managed to get flustered and “spray” Howard while he was talking. After everyone was already apprehensive about the nuclear incident, he gave us a 10 minute talk on the danger of having an earthquake while we are here. Not off to a great start.
Had a really fabulous first show. It was outside and don’t know how many hundreds of people attended, but it was really good. Met the base commander who told me I should jog around the runway the next morning. Said it was a 6 mile loop. Should have known better than to try something new since I have no sense of direction. I have to run in straight lines – 2 ½ miles one way and turn around and come back – no turns! I got lost and ended up in a very remote area right on the edge of the flight line. There were huge black crows flying around me squawking and signs that said “Danger, low flying aircraft; Do no cross when flashing red”. Had to run a total of 7 ½ miles just to get back to billeting. At one point I saw an MP and almost asked him to give me a ride, but I was too embarrassed.
Traveled to Yokoto today and had lunch with the base commander. One of the wives told us an interesting story. Seems when she first moved here, everyone encouraged her to register her daughter for modeling as there is lots of money in it for Americans. She took her daughter down and the agency insisted that she register also. Now, this woman is more than slightly obese and couldn’t understand whey they wanted a fat American housewife. All she had to do was sit on a couch and eat a bag of potato chips and show a “range of emotions”. She would have to wear a chicken head and excuse my language, but I quote, she would need to “laugh, cry, and fart on cue”. Well, she explained that there was no way she could pass gas on cue. She did say she saw the commercial later and the model did an excellent job!
We went into Tokyo all day today and shopped at the Ginza, Akihabara, and went to Roppongi to take pictures at the Hard Rock and eat the most incredible sushi I’ve ever had. You sat at a bar and it passed in front of you on a belt. The price was based on the color of the plate. Talk about fresh!
We have another show tomorrow. Then it’s off to Okinawa and Guam and then finally home for a day!
Almost at the end of the tour. Had great shows in Atusgi and Yokoto and then flew to Okinawa – without incident.
Okinawa was extremely hot and humid, but beautiful. I got a great deal on a 45 piece set of China ($100) and was going to ship it home (U.S. Postal rates, you know). The little Japanese store clerk insisted on opening the box and showing me each piece. He managed to drop and break 2 pieces and was so “shamed”. Of course, he didn’t have any more and had to send to the warehouse for it. Turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, but once you’ve signed those traveler’s check….
Last night’s show was the largest crowd yet – thousands of people at an outdoor venue. Had some problem with Howard’s amp and the monitor engineer was trying to fix it along with 3 little Japanese guys. Right in the middle of the softest part of “You Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie”, our monitor engineer says, “This is a piece of s…” and it just blares across the stage. Fortunately, it was limited to only the band hearing it and not the entire audience.
We flew from Okinawa to Fukuoka and knew that we had to re-check our luggage to Guam because it was a different airline. What we didn’t know was that we arrived at one terminal and departed from another terminal several miles away with only a small shuttle bus to transport us and all 43 pieces of luggage/equipment! I went ahead to try and sort out a problem we were having with our tickets. Got on the shuttle bus and the driver sat here for 15 minutes waiting for more people to get on. We had less than an hour to make the connection, so I was pretty stressed by the time the finally decided to drive. We had only gone about a half mile when there was this huge crash in the bus and all the passengers and the driver jumped about 3 feet out of their seats. A couple of Japanese guys had golf clubs that they didn’t feel they needed to secure in the baggage area and they had come crashing down. Not good for my nerves at that point.
Howard, David and all the band had to cram onto one shuttle bus. While they were trying to load the luggage, a Japanese man crawled over the bag that Susan was loading and insisted on getting on the bus with them. The band threw huge duffle bags in all around him and wedged him in for the ride. The Japanese are so nice and polite until it comes to line up for any type of public transportation. Then they suddenly turn kamikaze.
I had forgotten how beautiful Guam is. It is a tropical paradise and we are staying in a five star resort hotel right on the beach. Course we only have one day here and that’s a show day. That’s always the way it is. Went jogging as soon as we got here. Did good because I stayed in a straight line – 2 ½ miles up and 2 ½ miles back. Only thing is, I forgot the name of the hotel where we’re staying and couldn’t remember where I started. Walked around for about 15 minutes going hotel to hotel trying to find something familiar. The key didn’t have the name of the hotel on it and I had nothing with me to “identify” myself. There’s only about 50 resort hotels up and down the beach here!
Only one more show, one more day, then we have a 4 am departure. I fly home from Guam to Nashville and turn around the next morning at 4 am and fly back to Japan.
Buried in paperwork at the office after having been gone for a month!
Had our final show in Guam at 2:00 pm and it was 105 degrees and outside in the sun! The entire band was sunburned. Evidently when it starts cooling down at 6pm, then it starts raining every day. So, afternoon show. George, the Bellamys sound guy, got sunburned and his lighter leaked in his pants pocket and burned his leg. He was pretty miserable trying to fly home.
Since Susan and I had shopped so much, we had filled all the empty duffle bags that she had brought the merchandise in (4 huge ones!), David had forbidden us to shop anymore. There was a Guam Planet Hollywood and a Guam Hard Rock Café just calling out to us but we had to have a plan. Guam will let you check all your luggage and get your boarding passes the night before your flight. Since we had to be at the airport for a 6am flight, we decided to go do this the night before. Naturally, I needed Susan to go with me and take care of hers, David’s and Howard’s ticket. And, we HAD to stop by Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock to purchase a couple of small items of clothing and have one drink with an umbrella in it. No harm done!
Got to the airport the next morning and who is going through the security check with us? The bartender from the Hard Rock where we weren’t supposed to be the night before. I almost had a heart attack and grabbed Wally to find out if I was mistaken. Wally starts waving at him instead of hiding from him! Fortunately, we cleared security and made a quick getaway.
Flight home was horrible for the musicians. Travel agent had booked them in the middle seats on a sold out flight.
I got one hour’s sleep at home before flying back to Japan for Country Gold. Country Gold was TOO easy this year – great group of artists, great crowd and no earthquake, no typhoon, no volcanic eruption (well, a little poisonous gas…), and no problems.
Back in Nashville trying to dig out…..