My normal 3 hours sleep and up and ready to fly to Latvia.  Never did get the wireless to work properly in my room. Bus and equipment van were on time and we arrived at the airport as planned.  I asked the ticket agent if he could check us in as a “group” and he said he would.  I handed him all the tickets in their folders and he said, “On no.  You will have to pull the tickets for me.  I’m not going to do that”.   I explained to him that we were flying from Belfast to London, London to Copenhagen, and Copenhagen to Latvia and I was not comfortable pulling all those coupons on everyone.  He argued with me for a while and I was ready to insist on calling a supervisor when he finally came around. We were not charged any excess but our luggage tags weren’t matching up.  He had checked 8 pieces of equipment on David Bellamy’s ticket.  It was all our “gear” and it had to be hand delivered to the “oversize” counter.  Once we arrived there, they insisted that they must see David and his ticket before they would accept it.  I had already sent David through passport control to the gate, so I had to go through security, find him, and get us both back out of security to the check-in counter.  Fortunately, it was a very small airport! Flight to London was on time and we had a 2 ½ hour layover before flying to Copenhagen.    We had to sit in the food court area because our gate number was not posted.  When it was still not posted about 40 minutes before we were scheduled to depart, I knew something was wrong.  We were told that there was a problem with our aircraft and we would be departing approximately 2 hours late.  I knew that we only had a 40 minute connection in Copenhagen if we had left on time.   We finally departed and as I assumed, we missed our connection flight.  Now, here’s where the difference in airlines in the U.S. and airlines in Europe differ drastically.  In the U.S., we would have stood in line for a couple of hours to rebook our flights.  Then the airlines would have said, sorry about that – you can sleep on the floor until your flight leaves tomorrow. Then if they had any left, they MIGHT give us a pillow.    I went to the transfer desk to rebook our flights to Riga, Latvia and found that we had already been rebooked on the first flight out tomorrow morning.  In less than an hour, they issued new boarding passes, gave us a great toiletry bag (it even has a t-shirt in it!), had us booked in single rooms at a nice hotel, and gave us a coupon for dinner and breakfast, a coupon for the taxi to the hotel, and a voucher for a free 3 minute telephone call!  Sure made life easier and our group much happier. So, we’re spending the night in Copenhagen – where it is also raining – and will fly to Latvia early tomorrow morning. Jude


I forgot to mention that we did not get to pick up ANY of our luggage.  So we have not clothes – NOTHING!  We assumed that when we went through London today, they would again insist that we only have one carry on bag.  So, we were ready for them.  We packed everything in our suitcases that we would normally keep with us for an emergency.  Smart move.  They didn’t limit us to one bag and now we are stuck in Copenhagen without our luggage.  We grabbed a few hours of sleep and then went back to the airport for an 8:40 am flight to Riga, Latvia.  Once the gate agent arrived at the gate, Wally and I took him the claim checks so he could make sure our equipment and luggage was on the plane.  It wasn’t.  He made us wait while they climbed into the cargo hold to try and find it.  No luck.   We finally had to get on the flight – Baltic Air.  Not a great plane.   Some man was sitting in my seat and he had to move.   There was the perfect imprint of a butt in my seat that wouldn’t go away.  And, it wasn’t shaped to fit me.  Very uncomfortable flight.  We landed and I was hoping for the best with the luggage/equipment.   When we arrived at baggage claim, we did receive some of our personal luggage but all our equipment and 4 personal bags were missing.  We filed the necessary paperwork and the agent said that the bags were not even showing up in their system.  They had no idea where they were.  We got all their information and left for the hotel hoping they would show up on the 3:30 or 5:30 pm flights.   After we exited Customs, the drummer realized that he had forgotten his suitcase – which had come in.  They wouldn’t let him go back in so I had to get the promoter to run interference with the officials.  We got it.  Latvia still looks very “Russian”.  Our promoter had a great tour planned for us but because we arrived a day late, there wasn’t time.   So, we get to see nothing of the real Latvia.  L    The hotel is really nice and I have a DSL line in my room.  We had lunch in the restaurant and I had a Mexican omelet which was actually like a veggie omelet.  Probably the best omelet I’ve ever eaten.    I spent the afternoon trying to help figure out the equipment.  I had my office checking from their side and I called the promoter in Germany to tell him to be on alert that he might have to provide it for us there tomorrow.  I actually spoke with the production manager for Germany who is a dear friend of mine.   He’s done dozens of tours for the troops with me.  I told him what had happened and I know he was not surprised because he is on my Road Report list and knows that these things happen to me ALL the time.  When I said good-bye, before the phone clicked off, I heard him howling with laughter as he hung up.  Busted, John!  Nothing came in on the 3:30 pm flight and we made arrangements to use the instruments of one of the bands from Canada that will be performing tonight.   Wally called me and said that he had left his harmonica in his case in his room and needed it.  I told him I would get it and send to him.  He said he was in room 17 so I went to the front desk and got another key.  The case was sitting right inside the front door, just like he said.  But it didn’t “look” like Wally’s case.  I figured I was just tired and tried to unzip the outside compartment where he said it was.   But there was a flap over the zipper and it looked like it was locked.  I finally got it open, but didn’t find the harmonica.  So, I unzipped the back compartment and saw all these cds from a Norwegian artist.  I then realized that the things in the room did not look like Wally’s and I was in some Norwegian guy’s room.  I panicked because I didn’t know if the guy might be in the bathroom or if he was not in the room at all.  I ran out of the room without closing the case back and locked the door behind me.  Then I realized that I had left my room key laying on his table.  Had to sneak back in and retrieve it.  I wonder what the guy thought when he came in and found that someone had been rummaging through his case.  I saw him at the festival but stayed far away.  Thought I might sneak in an hour’s sleep this afternoon but that didn’t happen.  My room is big and nice but hot!  The only window is in the ceiling and there was this pole leaning against the wall.  Only took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to open it.  Then, I couldn’t leave it open because it was raining too hard.   Susan – who did get to take a nap –said the mattress is harder than the floor. The good news is that after we got everything worked out to borrow equipment, everything came in on the 5:30 pm flight.  We drove out to the festival and it was packed…I’d estimate 10,000 or more.  I know the promoters must be happy.  They have never had an artist from the U.S. perform here.  It started pouring down rain right before the Bellamys were due to go on stage but stopped before they actually took the stage.   Some interesting “attire” in the audience including a head band with two red lights on the top that resemble devils horns plus cap with long fur tails on them.   A group of line dancers went on earlier in the day and they sang “Shake a Tail Feather” and wore feathers on their butts.  J  Audience went wild for the Bellamys and Susan sold a lot of merchandise.  I tried to find us something to eat during their show since we missed dinner.  All I could find at the booths were these things that looked like ice cream cones but weren’t.  I bought one but it was horrible — made totally out of sugar except for the cone part.  Had to throw it away.  Then I went back to the trailer in the backstage area and saw a row of tents nearby with smoke coming out. Found grilled pork kebabs, sausages, kraut, veggies, potatoes, etc.   Got some for the Bellamys and their wives. We did a radio interview with a man from Lithuania tonight.  The largest country music festival in Eastern Europe is held there the 3rd weekend of every August. The have about 20,000 people per day and the interesting news is that they are “YOUNG” people – 18-30 years of age.  They want the Bellamys to perform there in 2008.  Sure hope that works out. Started raining hard again just as we were leaving.  I am not going to bed tonight.  It’s 2:15 am and I have to get dressed at 3:00 am, so why bother?  We fly from Latvia to Copenhagen and then Copenhagen to Berlin and then have a 2 hour drive to the city where we are performing – Walddorf, Germany.  We are NOT going to lose any luggage or equipment this time! Jude