MONDAY, JULY 2ND:
After getting off to a very rough start, the day went smoothly. I went to bed at 12:15 am and got up at 3:15 am. At 3:30 pm I heard the bus pulling up in front of the hotel. I wondered why he was bringing it around so early since we had confirmed several times with him the day before that we would depart at 4:30 am for the 30 minute drive to the Vienna Airport. At 3:40 pm, my cell phone rang and it was the bus driver. He wanted to know where everyone was and I reminded him of the 4:30 am departure. Then, he tells me that it is an hour and a half drive to the airport and we should have left at 3:30 am! Of course, it was impossible to get 11 people up and moving that quickly. We managed to depart at around 4:20 am and the drive to the airport was only 40 minutes, thank goodness. We were able to check everyone in as a group and boarded the flight from Vienna to Belfast via Heathrow.
Now any London airport is an airport that I will avoid if any way possible. This time it was not possible. We got off the plane at Heathrow and started through security to the next gate only to be told that we could only have one carry on and would have to consolidate. All the females had purses and computer cases and most of the guys had two pieces. They said if we didn’t consolidate, we had to go through passport control, down to the lobby, check the bag and then come back through passport control and security to the gate. There was no way anyone had time to do that. We finally managed to squeeze everything into one bag each but threw away some things that we would have liked to have on the trip. Once we got through security, we noticed lots of people carrying on two bags and no one said anything to them!
Flight to Belfast was uneventful and all our luggage/gear came in. But, we got a call from the promoter saying he had gone to Belfast International (where my office had told them we would be landing) and we were actually at the Belfast “city” airport! It took him about 40 minutes to come across town and retrieve us. He picked us up in a small bus that had less leg room between the seats than coach section on an airplane and a truck for our luggage/gear. Fortunately, everyone had two seats and could at least stretch out a bit for the 2 hour drive.
We made a stop before reaching LetterKenny – our first show – to buy “fish and chips”. Not my favorite because it is so greasy but it is also one of the best things there is to eat in the U.K. I am not a fan of U.K. cuisine. L After we had all ordered and taken the food back to the bus, one of the waitresses came running on the bus and said, “Oh My God. I didn’t know you are the Bellamys”. The Bellamy’s drummer said that when she actually learned who it was, she had screamed, “It’s the f….ing Bellamy Brothers”!
The hotel is nice and all the room keys were ready for us. The showroom was set up and ready for our guys to sound check. Stage is small but workable. I had a nice room but the internet didn’t work in my room. Since all the rooms are equipped with wireless connection, I asked if I could be moved to one where the internet worked. I had already unpacked half my things, so had to re-pack and move. Got in the new room and had an excellent signal but would get kicked off every 2-3 minutes because it would lose the IP address. Worked with it for over 2 hours and never could get it going. I found out at dinner that everyone was experiencing the same problem. The only connection we have is sitting out in the lobby which is what I am doing right now at 1:30 am.
The show was great. You would not believe the fans. It has been a very long time since the Bellamys have performed in Ireland and I think they will definitely be invited back. It was a small room – approximately 400 people – and the promoter had been unable to locate a drum shield. Because the stage is so small, the drums were killing Howard and David without the shield. Tomorrow the guys are going to “build one”. The guys signed autographs for about an hour. I helped with the merch sales. It is interesting that the British Pound (or sterling as they call it here) is used in this city and Euros will be used in the next two cities. Tomorrow we drive to Cookstown and Wednesday will be in Ballymena.
Hope the emails slow down over the 4th of July holiday!
TUESDAY, JULY 3RD:
Actually got 5 hours sleep last night because of our later departure time today. Got up and went to the gym which was actually pretty well-equipped. David’s wife Susan met me there and we got in a pretty good workout. After jogging 4 days straight, I needed to work out hard with weights. Feel SOOO much better. Bowl of Special K, shower, check email, and I’m off to Cookstown, Ireland. It is still raining, of course. It’s always raining in the U.K. J
Trying to locate our bus driver from the Austria show as the Bellamys production manager left his cell phone on the bus yesterday. I spoke with him yesterday and he had found it. Just got to make sure his office mails it express mail to the U.S. for us so that he has it when we get back on Sunday.
Hotel is a little nicer than yesterday’s. Wireless is still only available in the lobby area so I spend a lot of time hanging out in the lobby or common area. Stage is small again and the Promoter was unable to locate any plexiglass for a drum shield. Seems bands in Ireland don’t use plexiglass shields.
I was going to walk up to the grocery store this afternoon and purchase some bottled water. But, it started pouring rain while I was walking and I had to turn around. Got one of our promoter’s crew guys to take me to the store.
I FINALLY had a good meal in the U.K. What a surprise. For dinner I had a salad that was fruit, nuts and this wonderful cheese. Then I had something called Pasta Basillica. It was linguine pasta with sautéed mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and these little round things that looked like little “new potatoes”. I was wondering what in the world potatoes were doing on my pasta until I bit into one. It was actually a small, round red pepper – sweet but also hot – filled with white creamy cheese then deep-fried in a very light batter. I could have eaten just the little pepper/cheese things without the pasta.
Showroom was packed and there were definitely Bellamy fans in attendance. Lots of younger people, too. Autograph session wasn’t as long tonight because they set us up in a strange location. Most people did not see the Bellamys and left without an autograph.
Tomorrow we drive to Ballymena. That is supposed to be our biggest date out of all three. Susan is going to get up and come to my room at 8:30 am so we can do pilates together. I’ve never done them, but am willing to give it a try! J
WEDNESDAY, JULY 4TH:
I honestly can’t remember the last time I was in the U.S. on the 4th of July! I know I’ve spent it in some strange places like Iraq, Djbouti, Switzerland and now Ireland!
Susan met me at 8:30 as promised and tried to kill me with Pilates. Death by Pilates! J Actually, it was fun and definitely worked some new muscles.
Today didn’t go as smoothly as the other two performances in Ireland. The bus driver showed up about 20 minutes late with a different bus – one that was too small for all our luggage and the passengers. I called the promoter to let him know the situation and he said that we were contracted to have the same bus for the entire tour. We crammed suitcases inside the bus and managed to get everyone on board – although the seats were much smaller than our butts! About a mile from the hotel, the bus driver pulled over and started talking on the phone. He wanted to go back to the bus company, unload everything and change buses. I told him we had a meeting scheduled with the Bellamy’s European Distributor (Brian) and didn’t have time to make the switch. We had a pretty miserable trip to Ballymena.
The hotel is not nearly as nice as the last two we have stayed in. It is extremely old and rooms are incredibly small – smaller than a hotel room in NYC if you can imagine. Only a couple of the rooms have wireless internet in the rooms. Otherwise, it’s the lobby area again. I got one of the rooms that does have wireless and it worked great for a couple of hours. Now the signal fades every couple of minutes and knocks me off line!
We met Brian for lunch and went over some ideas for 2008. Food was definitely not as good as yesterday’s meals. I spent the entire afternoon working on emails. Having problems with Josh Gracin’s tour in Iraq and it’s hard to resolve them from Ireland!
The showroom was beautiful – completely opposite from what the guest rooms look like! We had a full house again – approximately 550 people. A man that had contacted me via the internet saying he was surprising his wife by bringing her in from Liverpool was at the show and found me. I took them backstage to meet the Bellamys prior to their performance. Really nice couple who are huge Bellamy fans.
Bellamys performed another awesome show and signed autographs for well over an hour. We then met with Brian and our Ireland promoter again to discuss 2008. It’s after 2 am now and I have an early call tomorrow. We will spend all day trying to get to Latvia – leaving the hotel at 10 am and arriving Latvia at around 1 am! Going to be a LONG day. J