TUESDAY, JULY 25TH AND WEDNESDAY, JULY 26TH – NASHVILLE BACK TO NORWAY!
Flew out of Nashville by myself again today to Norway. Meeting Brad Paisley’s group on Thursday for his performance on Friday at the annual Seljord Countryfestivalen.
I tried to carry on again this time but just couldn’t get everything into bags small enough. So, I checked a bag and said a prayer that Delta wouldn’t lose it like they did for this same festival last year!
Our flight boarded on time and then we SAT. We were supposed to depart at 5:55 pm and were advised that we would not be departing until at least 7:30 pm or later. And, of course, we had to just “sit” on the plane and wait for the word that we could go. Supposedly there was “weather” in Atlanta and everything was backed up with Air Traffic Control….which happens all the time. When we finally took off, we landed at exactly the time my flight was boarding. I ran like a mad woman from terminal B to the tram and then to terminal F – as far apart as it could. Passengers had just started boarding when I arrived. I was able to track my checked bag on the Delta App and was surprised to see that it had been loaded onto my flight before we departed.
I was surprised to find that the aircraft was a KLM jet instead of a Delta jet. That means it was MUCH nicer and the flight attendants were also much nicer. I watched one movie, ate a light meal and then slept for 3 hours. We landed Amsterdam on time only to stand in the longest line every for Immigration – over a half hour. I still had about 30 minutes to go into the KLM Lounge, download my emails and answer the urgent ones.
Boarded the small KLM jet for the 1 ½ hour flight to Sandefjord. No one was sitting next to me but right before we took off, this big “Viking” came running onto the aircraft. He had on a blue sports coat and no shirt and the flight attendants gave him a blue blanket – which he wore like a scarf. I saw him “eyeing” me and thought – that’s my seat mate. Yep. Good news is, he was extremely nice. The flight attendants were falling all over themselves to take care of him. He was apologizing profusely to me for not having on a shirt! He said his travel agent booked him into the wrong airport (into Sandefjord where I’m going instead of into Gardenmoen where he should be going). Said he had to run all the way to the gate before our flight departed and had taken his shirt off because he was sweating so profusely. He continued to talk to me during takeoff and asked what I do which led me to ask what he does. He’s an actor – and obviously a very well-known one from the reaction of the flight attendants. He’s been in films in Hollywood, Iceland, and now filming a TV show in Berlin. Super nice guy. He lives in Drammen and the Bellamys are performing there in September. He’s promised to come to the show. Google the name “Rune Temte” and check him out. He was going to have to hire a car to take him to Drammen and mentioned that Drammen was on the way to Seljord. I asked my driver once we landed but Drammen is in the opposite direction so we couldn’t offer him a ride.
Tom – the young man who drove me from the airport to the festival site and then to the hotel – is so sweet and a very good driver. It was about a 2 ½ hour ride through beautiful countryside. I had contemplated renting a car and driving myself but since I’ve NEVER driven in a foreign country, decided I might end up in Austria. It’s not that I have a bad send of direction. I have absolutely NO sense of direction! At the end of our drive, I was so thankful that I didn’t attempt that drive.
I spent a couple of hours at the festival – seeing all my dear friends and checking out the stage. It’s in a different location this year because they are expecting around 12,000 in attendance! Everything is set up and looks perfect. The festival staff is really excited to have Brad and his group here this year.
Tom drove me to my hotel and when we arrived, there were several tour buses parked out front. After I got checked in, I went back to Reception and there were dozens and dozens of men and women who looked to be in their 80’s all sitting in a lounge area right off the lobby. A man was sitting at a piano singing “Brown-Eyed Girl” to TRACKS and all the men and women were singing the “Sha-la-la-la” parts with him. They were having a blast. And at 11 pm, the hotel was quiet – they all went to bed!
This is the first time we have stayed at this hotel and it’s nice by Norway standards. However, the internet isn’t working. It “comes and gos” so I’m using my T-Mobile Personal Hotspot. I’ve had a chat with management and impressed on them how important it is that the WiFi works when Brad’s group arrives tomorrow. They assured me someone will be at the hotel early morning to “fix” the problem. We shall see….
Almost 2 am and I’ve only slept 3 hours in the past 48, so I’m headed to bed!
THURSDAY, JULY 27TH – PRE-PLANNING IN SELJORD, NORWAY:
Slept soundly for 5 hours. Couldn’t believe I didn’t wake up several times. It was raining when I opened the drapes and has continued to rain all day, as expected. Rather get it out of the way now than tomorrow! I had the buffet breakfast which was really good. When I came back upstairs, the manager of the hotel was in the hallway looking for me. He had his laptop with him and was going room to room checking the internet. He took me into several rooms to show me that the “app” he had opened was showing the “speed” available. I told him to look down at the bottom of his screen and check the number of “bars” available for Wi-Fi. There was either none or one in each room. He said he couldn’t understand it because they had just updated their system to accommodate conventions that they have booked throughout the year. He was extremely nice and said he would figure out the problem and let me now but would definitely have it corrected before Brad’s group arrives tonight.
I did a workout in my room since I couldn’t go jogging in the rain. After I showered, the manager came back to my room and said the problem was because of the side of the hotel where our rooms are located. There is a cement block wall between our rooms and the WiFi router that is blocking the signal! He suggested I move to another room and he would move as many of Brad’s group as possible. Of course, I had already unpacked everything. But since WiFi is my “lifeline”, I re-packed and moved. WiFi is much better in my new room….not fantastic, but at least I don’t have to use my T-Mobile Hotspot! I gave him a “priority” list for where to move the musicians/crew and he took care of everything.
I walked down to the little “’village” near the hotel and bought water and fruit. There are only about 4 shops in the town – a small market, a sporting goods store with ski wear, a touristy gift shop and an electrical appliance shop.
I called my son Chris in Greenland with Vertical Horizon to discuss “options” on what to do if their flight gets canceled or delayed out of Baltimore on Saturday en route to Honduras. Evidently, severe storms are forecast for Friday and Saturday in the Northeast. He informed me that a “front” is moving into Greenland tomorrow as well and their military pilots are suggesting they depart at around 10:30 pm tonight. Since their show is at 5:30 p.m., everyone agreed that would be the best plan.
After having our travel agent try several different options to get them from Baltimore to Honduras, we decided to stick with their original flights and take a chance that the plane will be able to fly from Baltimore to Honduras at 6 am on Saturday morning. If they do get delayed, they could still fly to Honduras on Sunday and have time to perform the show that same night.
Brad’s musicians/crew arrived Oslo Airport on time a little after 2:30 pm. They departed the airport at around 3:30 pm. They thought it was going to be about a 3 hour bus drive but then they have never driven the narrow, curving Norwegian roads in two huge tour buses. I knew it would be at least 7:30 pm before they arrived. Kevin started texting me when they were about 63 miles out and then again when they were 17 miles out. It took 30 minutes just to travel that last 17 miles because the roads are so curvy and narrow on that last part.
Everyone arrived safely around 8 pm. I had room keys and the rooming list ready for them. The restaurant had a buffet from 7-9 pm and I requested that they keep it open until 9:30 pm. Food was really good again.
Back in my room now and finishing up the Greenland/Honduras flight situation. We leave for the venue at 10 am tomorrow morning and won’t be back here until after the show – probably around 1 am!
Rain should stop just before show time tomorrow night…fingers crossed!
FRIDAY, JULY 28TH, 2017 – SHOW DAY AT COUNTRYFESTIVALEN, NORWAY:
So I forgot to tell the funniest part of the “evening” in my previous road report…..
The elevator in the hotel is “typical” for European “remote” sites. There is a “door” like a regular door in a house and when the elevator arrives at the site, you have to physically open the door. I showed each guy how to operate the elevator and the correct floor to push. Then I would walk away and take care of other things. One guy got in the elevator with my instructions and I walked away for about 7 minutes. Then someone else came up to use the elevator and opened the door. The guy was still standing in there. Not sure if he went up to the 2nd floor and came back down or what but he had been in the elevator all that time. HA!
Got up and worked out in my room. The rain in gone. Vertical Horizon got out of Greenland and landed in Baltimore and it looks like the worse weather will end before they have to fly to Honduras tomorrow. Emmylou Harris has landed in France and will perform tomorrow. God is Good! 😊
Had breakfast with the guys and then I rode out to the venue with them for load in and sound check. Going down that super curvy narrow road in the tour bus was a real treat….NOT!
Everything was set up and “perfect” at the venue because the festival hired the production company from Sweden who have produced Brad’s two shows earlier this week. The catering this year is unbelievable and having the entire building just for Brad is awesome. The band was picked up at the hotel and arrived at the venue at around 2:30 pm. Brad’s bus arrived from Oslo at around 6:00 pm.
Two people who are Brad’s friends are the opening acts for the festival. Scott Scovill lives in Nashville and is on the CMA Board of Directors and owns “Moo TV” and is performing with a Norwegian Band “The Spinning Wheels”. The other artist – Redd Volkaert — lives in Austin now and actually performed at Brad’s wedding. Both were EXCELLENT. Brad watched Redd’s performance and then it was time for the “Meet and Greet”.
“Meet and Greet” was for 32 “fans” plus the festival Board of Directors. Brad had his own photographer who took the photos and posted them on a website for download. I took a photo holding a sign that said, “Hi Charlie” and sent it to Charlie Nagatani in Japan. Brad and I talked about Charlie for a few minutes as Brad is big fan and friend of Charlie. Brad flew his video director – Jim Shea – all the way to Japan to film Charlie and include him in his video “Welcome To The Future”.
The Meet and Greet line moved amazingly fast and then it was time for Brad to take the stage. I hadn’t looked out front since Redd was performing and I was pleasantly surprised when I walked out. The festival had more people than I’ve ever seen there since I’ve been working with them for more than a decade! It looks like the final count will be around 11-12,000! Beer sales were over the top, too. 😊
Brad has one of the best shows ever. It’s high energy and he’s very “engaging” with the audience. He has a huge video wall playing behind him that keeps distracting me from watching the musicians because it is so fascinating. The crowd loved him and sang along with every song. He brought Redd on stage for several of his songs and the audience loved it. He finished his performance right on time, hopped on his tour bus and headed back to Norway to fly back to the USA last night.
I stayed with the band and crew while they packed up and then rode back to our hotel with them. It was a fun ride with Kenny keeping us entertained the entire 45 minute drive. But the roads were the switchbacks in the dark in the huge bus and I was so nauseous by the time we got to the hotel, I was bolting off the bus!
The guys showered and left for the Oslo airport and I got in bed at around 3 am after talking to my son Chris about the “weather forecast” for the flight to Honduras with Vertical Horizon tomorrow. He’s in Baltimore and the airlines were predicting flight cancelations and delays due to storms. He said it was raining hard all day but that planes were flying. Fingers crossed that they get out on time tomorrow.
I can’t say enough good things about how nice Brad’s entire band, crew, and Dad were to work with. A few of the same guys that I worked with at Country Gold a long, long time ago are still with Brad. They are incredibly “easy” to work with and so nice to everyone. Kevin – the production manager – is a longtime friend and his first “production” position was with The Bellamy Brothers. They still love him, too!
It’s going to be very, very difficult to “top” this performance next year. My suggestion was just to bring Brad back again! 😊
SATURDAY, JULY 29TH – LAST DAY IN NORWAY:
Seems like everyone’s flights – Brad Paisley Group and Vertical Horizon – were all on time. Whew!
I showered and had breakfast then worked for a couple of hours before my driver picked me up. We stopped by the festival site and I talked with Kjell, Jan and David for a while. Seems like everyone was very happy with Brad’s concert and the “attendance and alcohol sales”! 😊
Working with Kjell, David and Jan was such a pleasure this year. Everything ran extremely smooth! “Mean” Kjell did not visit with me once this time. LOL
I left Seljord for Sandefjord later than anticipated and didn’t arrive at the hotel until after 5 pm. Got in a little work before heading down for “complimentary” dinner at the hotel! And, it was good food, too!
Had a lot of work to catch up on and was hoping to get in bed by 10 pm since I have to get up at 2:30 am to leave for the airport at 3:45 am. Didn’t make it because it’s 10:30 pm now. Going to bed!
SUNDAY, JULY 30TH – FLIGHT HOME TO NASHVILLE:
What a “night”. I only had 3 ½ hours to sleep and even that didn’t work out. I had a hard time falling asleep because I had to leave the windows open or the room was too hot. The noise from the people outside on the street was so loud, I couldn’t go to sleep. I should have thought to get a fan from the front desk. ☹ When I finally did fall asleep, my phone rang and woke me up. That was at 12:30 am and I never went back to sleep before I had to get up at 2:30 am. Going to be a long day!
My taxi was supposed to arrive at 3:45 am and of course, it didn’t. There was one guy working in the kitchen and vacuuming and I asked him if he could call them. He called and said, “they will be here soon”. That was at 4 am! Taxi finally arrived at 4:05 am and I was at the airport by 4:15 am. The TORP airport website is not correct. The ticket counters do not open 2 hours prior to flight departure. The KLM counter opened at around 4:35 am but security didn’t open until 5 am.
At least the flight was on time to Amsterdam and no one was sitting beside me. Short 1 ½ hour flight with a 2 hour layover. But about 1 hour of that time is taken up going through Immigration and then the Security check in. I had time to spend 30 minutes in the lounge answering emails and then had to go to the gate because the aircraft boards 1 hour prior to departure.
We boarded a little late but left on time. I looked through the dozens of movies available, tried to watch a couple, but couldn’t find anything worthwhile. I wasn’t really hungry so only ate a little and then slept for 3 hours. T-Mobile offers one hour of “free” WiFi on flights, so I logged in and worked for an hour. Not much going on though on a Sunday, thankfully!
We landed Minneapolis a little early and I quickly cleared Immigration through the Global Entry program. Picking up my bags took a little longer. By the time they finally arrived, I didn’t have time to go to the Lounge and work. Our flight to Nashville departed on time. A group of musicians boarded before everyone else and I was trying to figure out who they were but failed. The “lead singer” had a body guard with him and look a little like a younger version of Kid Rock. Never did figure out who he is.
We actually landed Nashville early. Will have 2 weeks at home before leaving for South Korea with Chase Rice.
Thanks to everyone at Seljord for such a great visit and to Brad, Doug, Kevin, Jim, and all the guys for making this a record-breaking, fantastic concert for the fans in Norway!