Today I leave for a tour of Europe with the Bellamy Brothers…..7 countries in 20 days.  We will perform in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Switzerland and the Faroe Islands and spend one night in Denmark during a “layover”.  We met at the airport in Nashville at 11 am and Linz brought the babies out so everyone could see them.  David took some amazing photos of them with his Iphone and I made sure Susan and Jenny both held one of them.  Zac was in a great mood but Zoe was not happy.  Think she was just hungry but she cried a lot instead of smiling and cooing as she usually does.  I will truly miss them over these next 3 weeks! David, Susan, Wally and I had lunch at Noshville Deli and then boarded  the flight to Detroit.  It was a tiny plane but there was no turbulence.   Thunderstorms were predicted for Nashville but we got out before they hit.   We did stop as we were taxiing down the runway and the pilot said we had to lose 200 pounds.  There was a lot of joking about “who” was going to get thrown off.  He just sat and revved the engines for several minutes which I assume meant he burnt off 200 pounds of fuel. Plane was full and we landed on time.  Only had less than 30 minutes to run into the World Club and download my email so I could answer it on the plane.  We boarded an hour before departure which is so silly in my opinion.  Then we were delayed again because with the “tail wind” we were going to arrive too early into Amsterdam.  I think there is some sort of “noise control” in place there that prohibits flights landing during a specific time period.   Lady sitting next to me is really nice.  She lives just outside LA and is flying to Namibia.  I told her all about my dealings with two guys in Namibia who want the Bellamys to perform there.  Also gave her the REAL scoop on the war in Iraq.   J I worked most of the flight then slept for 2 hours…right through breakfast.  I woke up because I was having my usual “nightmare” about landing.  I have this really strange dream every time I fly about landing.  Anyway, we landed safely in Amsterdam, went through Immigration and Security and sat at the gate for about an hour before we boarded our KLM flight to Stockholm.  We were delayed leaving Amsterdam because a passenger did not get on the flight but had a bag in the cargo hold.  They had to take ALL the bags off the aircraft until they found that passenger’s bag.   Of course, it was the last one.  Flight was almost 2 hours long and the landing was very, very bumpy.  Not sure why because the trees weren’t swaying which is usually a sign of high winds.  Our bus – a double decker – was waiting for us.  Really nice bus and driver.  Good thing because it is almost a 4 hour drive to the hotel in Leksand.  I’ve been all over Sweden so the scenery isn’t “new” to me.  We stopped halfway here and had lunch at a little “truck” stop.  Those places have the best food in Europe though.  I had smoked, peppered salmon and it was great.   We passed a sign for Gavle – which is where my festival is located each August.  We’re only about an hour from there and several of my friends from there will be coming to the show tomorrow. The hotel is lovely.  Located right on a beautiful lake and the weather should be nice enough for me to job tomorrow.  The shower is one of those that doesn’t have a “floor” other than the floor to the bathroom….which means the floor will be flooded every time I shower.  But at least this one has glass shower doors so I won’t hose down everything in the bathroom….I hope. Wireless internet in each room and it’s free which makes everyone happy.  We are all having dinner together tonight at 8 pm.  I arrived at 8 pm and everyone was there but David, Susan, Howard and Jenny had already eaten!  I ate with “my boys” and had a great time.  The meal was a set menu of a delicious mushroom soup followed by a flaky white halibut in pesto sauce (that didn’t taste of “fish” at all!) and a dessert of white chocolate mousse with fresh strawberry sauce.  I had about 4 cups of coffee so I’m sure I’ll lie awake for hours.  Going to bed very soon so I can get up early and go over to the venue with the band.  Sound check is during the morning and then we have the rest of the day free until a midnight performance.  Too easy! Jude

Slept pretty good.   It was another one of those sleep for one hour, “wake up and think it’s morning” type of sleeps.   Last night I had asked the restaurant if I could buy bottled water.  I remember how hard it is to find “still” bottled water in Sweden.  Almost all of the water for purchase has “bubbles”.  They said, “Sure. I’ll fill you up a bottle right here” and turned on the tap!  So, the water in Sweden is so pure, you can drink it right out of the tap.  I washed my clothes in the sink last night and hung to dry.  This time when I packed, I only brought clothes that I knew I could wash myself.  Last June, I paid $500 for one week of laundry when I was in Sweden.  That was a lesson learned.  I could have purchased new clothes for that amount. Had a quick breakfast of yoghurt and cereal and headed over to the venue with the band.  Weather is still just beautiful here. It is about a 20 minute drive to the venue which is a hockey stadium.   EVERYTHING in the small town of Leksand is closed for their “holiday”.  They are celebrating the first day of Spring and said last year they had snow at this time.  We are really lucky to have such beautiful weather.   They have covered the ice in the stadium, of course, but it was still very “chilly” in there.  Nice venue, though.  Big stage, nice dressing room, and good place for Susan to sell merch.  The Production Company is the same one that we use at Dalhalla and I got to chat with Bendt (the main guy) and a young, cute musician that I met in the airport a few years ago who also works with me at Dalhalla named David.  They both remembered me which is really nice.  David reminded me that we had exchanged emails for a while.   I hate that I meet so many people in my travels, that I don’t always remember where I’ve met them.  I left sound check a few minutes before the band finished and came back to the hotel.  The restaurant is basically closed all day for a wedding.  They were able to make me a “shrimp sandwich” which is one of my favorite things to eat in Sweden.   Tonight our dinner will be in a separate building and “private” just for us.  We are having reindeer!  I’ve had it before and it’s actually very good.  The reindeer stew isn’t great because the time I had it in Norway, it was very salty.  Should be interesting to see what my guys think of it.  J Came back to the room and worked all afternoon.  Had planned to go jogging but just didn’t have time.  Will definitely get up and run tomorrow morning.  Just hope I don’t get lost.  I may try to go for a short run tonight after dinner since we eat a 7 pm and don’t go to the venue until 11:30 pm.  Going to be a LATE show.  Met the promoter in the lobby and picked up the balance due and tried to get some change for Susan for merch.  The airport would only give her large bills yesterday. The weddings here go on all day and evening.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  The little kids get really bored with all the “speeches” and singing.  Dinner was “interesting”.   Appetizer was not the great soup.  It was cold salmon with roe on top and a piece of bread with butter that tasted like it had horseradish in it.  Then there was a radish as well.  The reindeer steak was relatively “rare” with a “potato” square and some sort of gravy.  Those of us who rarely eat dessert are making that our main meal…it was chocolate brulee with rhubarb and strawberries on the side.  It was excellent.   The wedding is STILL going on…almost 12 hours now.   Bride and groom are going to be too tired to have much of a “wedding night” tonight. We don’t leave for the venue until 11:30 so several hours before departure time yet.  I got some more great photos of the lake at sunset. Arrived at the venue at around midnight and the crowd was really light.  The weather is so beautiful and it’s been bad here until today.  I think lots of people stayed home to barbeque instead of coming to the event.  At least that’s what I heard.  Bellamys did their usual wonderful show and the people who were in the audience were thrilled with their performance. My little musician/sound tech came by the merch table and talked to us for quite a while.  He looks like a male model.  We took lots of photos with him because he is a “major hunk”.  Probably only about 15 years younger than my son!  LOL It is 3 am and I am headed to bed.  Day off tomorrow and I AM going jogging first thing! Jude

Got up at 7 am and grabbed a cup of coffee and headed for my jog.  I got directions again from the hotel but still expected to get lost.  I did.  I never made it to the lake because the roads wind around and around from the hotel going down to the lake.  But I saw a lot of beautiful countryside and a jack rabbit that was almost as big as me!  It was all downhill going down and you know what that means.  I am NOT accustomed to running that many hills, so I’m sure I’ll be sore and barely able to walk tomorrow. I ran for an hour and then came back and showered.  David had changed our leave time from 2 pm to noon to go to the market today.  I didn’t understand why he’d want to go that early since we didn’t get in from the show until after 3 am and breakfast was served at the hotel until 10 am. Several of the musicians didn’t go because it was too early for them.  We were all standing on the front porch of our building waiting for them and it was past noon already.  I sent Wally up to check on them because I was definitely going to drag them out of bed if they were still asleep after I got up two hours earlier to accommodate his time change.  J   They were still asleep and Wally woke them up.  We departed around 12:30 pm and it should have been about a 15 minute drive.  Only, we took “back” streets to avoid the traffic.   Our driver had never driver the van and had no experience driving a stick shift.  Plus he hit the brakes HARD every few feet. It was an interesting ride into town. The Market area was PACKED with people.  There were food stands and stands selling all sorts of local handicrafts.  We went to the Pharmacy first to buy this amazing lip cream that will get rid of a cold sore in a day.  We can’t get it in the U.S. so I always stock up over here.  Susan and Jenny got a “supply”, too.  Then we started trying to find a nice restaurant for lunch.  Had to get out of the Market Area and go to one located on the water.  Had a really nice, relaxing lunch and then strolled through the stalls in the Market.  I purchased a funny t-shirt for my “friend” J and some local cheese.  Oh yeah, we made a stop in the grocery store to buy some fruit as well.  Looked for something for the twins but they didn’t have anything small enough.  I haven’t gotten them anything for their “international corner” in their room from Finland.  We’re staying at a nice Radisson right in the heart of Helsinki, and we have a couple of days off.  I’m sure I’ll find some things there!  Got back to our hotel at around 5 pm and I worked for a couple of hours before meeting Susan and David in the restaurant for a bowl of soup. The set menu included Reindeer Mousse as an appetizer, halibut in tomato sauce with a potato cake and sorbet for dessert.  Too much food and I’ve had enough reindeer for the year.  J  I paid my bill tonight so I won’t have to deal with that tomorrow morning before we depart for the airport at 8 am.  Weather was beautiful again today…just the right temperature.  It’s supposed to be cloudy tomorrow but hopefully no rain before we fly.  Jude