THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1-2, 2016 – BELLAMY BROTHERS TO EUROPE FOR 3 WEEKS:
Hard to believe it’s September already and by the time we get back to the USA, September will almost be gone as well.
We all met at the airport at 8:45 am for our 10:45 am flight to Atlanta. Check in was really easy and everyone was allowed “my” baggage allowance on Delta which is always helpful. Everyone could check 3 bags weighing up to 70 pounds each because of my Diamond Million Miler 360 status. The problem is, when we have to pick up bags and recheck them in Oslo, we are on SAS and they won’t honor my Diamond status for everyone.
Several of us went to Noshville and had breakfast and then boarded the flight for an on-time departure. Short half hour flight to Atlanta and it was extremely windy when we landed. We had about an hour there so I got a couple of the guys into the Lounge who haven’t qualified for Gold status yet. They will after this trip for sure.
Flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam was on time. Delta has updated their app and the baggage claim check has a computer “chip” in it which allows you to track where your bag is. Works great until you get to Atlanta and the next flight is on KLM. Then the app just shows that your bags are still on the flight to Amsterdam – indefinitely!
I watched a great movie “I Am Sam” which I was eating dinner and then tried to sleep for a couple of hours. I only got 3 hours sleep last night but because it was still the “middle of the afternoon” wasn’t able to sleep. There was turbulence when we took off and at the very beginning of the flight but otherwise, all was good. Howard said the entire “block” of seats in his area had video monitors that didn’t work. They gave everyone vouchers for miles (which I’m sure they will NEVER be able to use on Delta). I told him he should have asked to be upgraded to a First Class seat instead….only the flight was full. L
We landed an hour early in Amsterdam, cleared passport control and went to the Lounge there for over an hour. Our flight from there to Oslo was on time and when we landed, we had to go to baggage claim and pick up our bags and equipment. Thankfully everything made it but Jim’s had a big panel torn off the front of his suitcase. We went upstairs to recheck and I was prepared to do battle regarding the excess charges. We lucked out because I chose a nice young man who turned out to have grown up in the USA. He was only back in Norway because it is mandatory that he serve in the Norway military for one year since he has Norwegian citizenship. He didn’t charge us ANYTHING for excess. I gave him my card and told him I’ll get him into the concert in Lillestrom if he wants to come. We had a long layover in Oslo and found an SAS Lounge we could go in there. Gunnar – our promoter – met us there. The seats in the lounge were all something like you’d find in Akia – very stylist but incredibly uncomfortable!
Our flight to Bodo was also on time and I wish I had taken a “panoramic” photo of our group. EVERYONE was passed out, mouths open, heads hanging down or sideways, drooling….LOL. Keep in mind that we have been traveling for almost 24 hours by that time. We landed on time in Bodo and it’s a very small airport. But they had a nice restaurant and most of us had our first of many meals of “salmon”.
The final flight of the day is on a little Prop plane – which I hate. I was also worried that they would be able to put all our equipment and luggage on there since we have so much and there has to be a weight limit. Unfortunately, our flight from Bodo to Leknes was delayed by almost an hour. We were all “dying” by that time! Finally took off and I white-knuckled it for 25 minutes until we landed in Leknes.
Our festival buyer – Stig – was there to meet us with a mini-bus and trailer. A camera crew was also there and Howard and David gave a short interview. I don’t know how they were able to speak coherently by that time. We left at 10:45 am this morning – Nashville to Atlanta to Amsterdam to Oslo to Bodo to Leknes — and finally got to the hotel at around 11:30 am Nashville time the next day. This was almost as bad as flying to Asia or Kuwait!
Rooms were ready but had to change the ones I could because we were on the second floor and there’s no elevator. The WiFi works great in the lobby but not so good in the rooms. I worked for a little while and then ate dinner with the guys. Worked again and it’s after 10 am here. Hoping to be in bed by midnight. The window in my room won’t close all the way and it’s freezing in here. Going to the front desk now to see if someone strong can come and close it!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD, 2016 – PERFORMANCE AT THE LOFOTEN COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL, NORWAY:
I made it in bed by midnight and slept soundly until 1:30 am when I woke up and thought it was morning. But I went back to sleep immediately. Woke up a couple of more times and finally got up at 6 am to shower and have breakfast. Most of the guys were already having breakfast and I sat with Howard. He said he stayed up until 1 am and slept really well once he went to bed. The hotel had a nice breakfast buffet – traditional Norwegian food with some scrambled eggs thrown in for the Americans. J A really nice man introduced himself to me and said Rolene Brumley asked him to say hello to me. Rolene was married to Tom Brumley – the most amazing pedal steel player of all time. I had the honor of traveling with Tom when he was in Desert Rose Band and have so many special memories of the fun we had “on the road”. Still miss him every day.
It’s “cool” here today – probably won’t make it to 60 degrees. It is beautiful outside and the venue is a huge indoor soccer stadium so no worries about rain if there should be any. We left exactly at 9:45 am and it was a short 5 minute drive. The production company was ready for them which isn’t always the case on a festival. With a few small “tweaks” the guys were up and running. It only took me about 15 minutes to check out the backstage setup and ask my routine questions. Gunnar always takes such good care of us and Stig is very professional and on top of things as well. Always a pleasure to come back here and perform, especially since it is sold out – 2,000 fans!!!
Stig drove me back to the hotel and I realized it was close enough that I could have walked. However, considering it was not in a “straight line with no turns”, it would have taken me an hour and a half considering how many times I would have gotten lost. J
I walked down to the center of the city where they have a small “carnival” set up and lots of food and craft booths. There’s also another stage where there were performances last night and I’m assuming this afternoon. I found the shopping mall which had some really great stores. Of course the first place I stop on the 3 week tour has THREE toy stores for kids. No way I can buy anything here and carry it around with me for all that time. I found 3 grocery stores which was my mission. Purchased water and apples and then walked back to the hotel. I’ve found “lemon” water that doesn’t have gas and am quickly becoming addicted to it. Most of the flavored water in Europe has gas.
Steffen Jacobsen and his pedal steel player Vidar are here. I met Steffen several years ago when he opened for Bo Bice in Seljord. I tried to assist him last year in coming to Minot, ND to perform at the huge Norsk Hostfest. But the USA has such horribly strict rules on issuing a work visa, that we didn’t have enough time to secure all the items necessary to get him entry. We have him confirmed for the event this September. He will use Nashville musicians and bring Vidar with him.
You would be amazed at how difficult it is for someone from Europe or another country to secure a visa to enter the USA if they are going to be paid for anything. It’s crazy considering how many refugees we have not to mention the “illegals” from Mexico. We expect the rest of the world to welcome us with open arms and allow us to perform in their countries but do not reciprocate. Our system is definitely messed up. Off the soap box now…
I spent my afternoon “working” very hard and hoping to get caught up so I can go sightseeing with the boys tomorrow afternoon. Since it is a holiday weekend in the USA (Labor Day), my emails have slowed down significantly from there, thank goodness.
Met Howard and David in the lobby at 6 pm for the “follow-up” TV interview and then David, Wally and I walked back downtown to the Coop so they could buy some water and fruit. We had dinner at 7 pm and I go the salmon tonight. I was going to walk to the fish restaurant nearby but the guys ate lunch there and said the selection was very limited. I like fish as long as it doesn’t taste like fish!
This is the first tour in years where I’ve been out for 3 weeks and having to wash clothes in the sink and hang them in the room to dry! And it might be the hardest tour I’ve ever packed for! Had to pack for cold weather in Northern Norway and really hot weather on the cruise. Layer, layer layer. I even bought this great jacket that I had seen earlier in the year at the Orlando airport, specially for this trip. I found a similar one online and ordered it. It is a lightweight down but lined and waterproof, extremely “light weight” and has all these hidden pockets that are for passport, money, glasses, etc. But the best part – there is an inner pocket at the waist and you roll the jacket up and put it in the pocket and zip it up. Then it is your neck pillow for the airplane. J I hooked it to my carry on bag which gave me more room in my suitcase since I didn’t have to pack a coat. David’s birthday is the 16th of this month so I overnighted one to him as an early birthday gift. We both love them!
We left for the show at 10:15 pm tonight and it had been raining and was still raining. The venue was PACKED! Guys went on stage right on time and had an amazing show. The people here are just so nice and friendly. I had a hard time finding anywhere to stand and take photos though. I walked out to the back of the venue and then up to the sound board to get a shot of Tim. The “dance floor” was right in front of the mixing position and trust me, I needed my flak vest when I tried to get a shot from there! Never get in the way of dancers, especially the ones who have been drinking since early afternoon. J
The show was fantastic. The band is tight and look like they are having fun on stage. And off stage, they are all fun to “hang with”! Audience called them back for several encores. They presented the Bellamys with a beautiful “portrait” of themselves and two bouquets of flowers. And, they agreed to ship the portrait to them. There’s just no way we can pack a glass framed photo and carry it around with us for 3 more weeks. We all have soft-side suitcases that are crammed to the max. But, it was a very sweet “thank you” to them and I’m glad they can ship for us.
Took photos and signed autographs with lots of folks after the show and then made it back to the hotel at around 1 pm. We get to sleep in tomorrow. Not sure I’m going to go sightseeing as it will mean a couple of hours of just driving around in the mini-bus. Plus I’ve pretty much seen all of Norway many, many times. But glad the guys will have that opportunity.
They take really good care of us at this event and it’s always a pleasure to work with Gunnar, Stig and his staff. Great people in Norway, Great Show, Great artists, Great Band….Life is good. Except for missing Zac and Zoe. If they weren’t in school, I would have flown them over for the cruise at the end of the tour. J
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH, 2016 – DAY OFF IN LEKNES, NORWAY:
Well, it was one “miserable” night for most of us. The musicians who performed at the festival came into the hotel at around 2 am and set up a jam session. It was so loud, it was heard throughout the hotel on all floors. I called the front desk and complained several times and they would play little bit quieter for about 2 minutes and then it was back full blast. I can usually sleep through things like that but the people performing were really, really bad. I’m sure they are excellent musicians when they are sober but that was not the case last night. Playing and singing out of tune and rhythm at the top of their capacity until well after 4 am this morning made for a very miserable night for the rest of us. I tried using my ear plugs (which were specially made for me and are great for noise cancelling) but they make my ears hurt after about 15 minutes even though they fit great.
I went into breakfast at around 9:30 am and a couple of the Bellamy’s musicians were already in there having breakfast. I made the decision NOT to go sightseeing today because I needed to get some sleep at some point. After breakfast, I worked for a while and then got dressed to go for a jog. I met Gunnar in the lobby at 1 pm and he is riding with the guys who are going sightseeing. They will drop him off at an airport about an hour from here and he is flying home from there.
I didn’t realize it had been raining and there was still a light rain falling when I was ready to jog. At that point, I was determined to get in my jog so I grabbed a lightweight jacket and took off. The farther I got from the hotel, the harder it rained and my “lightweight jacket” was not waterproof. I ran for about 30 minutes and felt 100% better even though I was cold and wet.
Showered and worked some more. No lunch for me today since I ate breakfast so late. The guys who went on the sightseeing tour said the scenery was gorgeous. And they stopped at a “Viking Museum” as well.
Ate dinner with the guys and one of them ordered the hamburger (photo attached). It may be the “tallest” burger I’ve ever seen!
It has rained off and on all day today and is still pretty cold. Hoping for better weather tomorrow when we have to fly in that little prop plane! Got everyone checked in for the flights tomorrow to Bodo and Oslo. Did not have room to bring my printer, so can’t print boarding passes but have them saved on my iPhone.
Going to bed by midnight tonight, I hope. Shutting down now to “pack”.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5TH – LEKNES TO LILLESTROM, NORWAY:
I got 6 hours of sleep last night – not solid – but at least 6 hours total! I brought my “bands” with me and got in a fairly decent workout in my room. Had breakfast with Howard and some of the boys, showered, and was in the lobby for an 11:30 pm departure to the airport. Stig picked us up with the mini-bus and trailer and it only took about 10 minutes to drive to the airport.
Leknes is a tiny little airport and there is one check-in counter, a security scanner and a baggage claim belt all in one room. Then you go through the security scanner and there is one room for all the gates. Wideroe is the only airlines that services Leknes and those are all prop planes. The guy working the check in counter was super nice. He said he had been to all the Lofoten Country Festivals except for one and he was definitely at the Bellamys show. I asked him who he’d like to see perform at the festival next year and he pointed to the Bellamys. J
Check in was a breeze and no excess baggage charges. That’s twice now that we have avoided those high fees. Very lucky!
We had about an hour to wait for our flight and then it was a 20 minute flight. The plane was completely full. Had a few minutes of panic when we were flying in the clouds and it was very bumpy. But we landed safely in Bodo and had about an hour and a half before our flight to Olso.
We landed Oslo on time and all our luggage and equipment made it with us. Jim took his damaged bag to the SAS counter and they gave him a new replacement bag while he was standing there. He just had to take everything out of his old bag and switch it to the new bag. Rocky’s bag came in and it was damaged as well and they gave him a new one, too!
Tor – our driver – was waiting with a 16 passenger van and trailer. We loaded up and then went back inside and changed money. It was about a 30 minute drive to Lillestrom and it’s a beautiful little town. Our hotel – Thon – is excellent. Usually we get great hotels like this when we are only going to be staying less than 24 hours so this is a real treat. WiFi works great and is free, too.
We got checked in and at 7 pm, most of us walked across the street to an Indian restaurant that we saw as we were driving to the hotel. It was great food! Howard informed us at dinner that he has a stationary bike in his room. That’s something you don’t see every day. J
I used tonight as my “one cheat” day a week and had rice with my Butter Chicken and half a piece of Nan bread.
Back at the hotel and catching up on emails. Tomorrow is a day off and I’m having dinner with Kjell and his family tomorrow night.
When we arrived Leknes last Friday, Stig gave me some beautiful photos he had taken of the Northern Lights.. I posted them on Facebook last night and didn’t say that we “saw” them, just said they were the Northern Lights. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many “hits” on Facebook!