SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2007:
Hard to believe July is almost gone and I was only in Nashville for 3 days of it!
Pretty miserable ride to the Oslo airport.  The roads were so narrow and winding that it was impossible to sleep in the van.  Then, our driver did not know where the airport was.  He is the one who picked us up at the airport, so you would think he would know how to get back there.  Also, he works for a transportation company that regularly picks up clients at the airport.  It should have taken us 3 ½ hours but was over 4 hours by the time he turned around 3 times and asked everyone he could find walking along the roadside where the airport was located.  I was not happy! Carlene actually arrived 30 minutes after we did although she should have arrived more than an hour after us.
Got checked in with no problem and everyone went to bed for a few hours sleep. Then, back to the airport for the 55 minute flight to Stockholm.  The flight was delayed and there was no explanation why.  We arrived Stockholm, all of our luggage and equipment made it and our promoters were waiting for us.  We had a 50 passenger bus and a car for Carlene.  It is much cooler here and raining.  The drive took the entire 3 ½ hours.  This is a different hotel than where we stayed last year.  It’s supposed to be the best in the area and located on a beautiful lake.  If you remember my road reports from last year, this is the venue where Dwight Yoakam played. It is the most beautiful venue I’ve ever seen.   It is an old limestone quarry that has been carved out of the hillside.  The stage has a lake around it.
But I digress.  Back to the hotel.  Carlene is in the main part of the hotel but the rest of us are “out back” in a “house” with separate rooms. Everything has been “modernized” but the bathroom is still one of those where your bathroom floor is also your shower floor.  Only difference is, there’s no “squeegee” in this one to get rid of the “flood” after you shower.  But, each room has wireless internet that works, so I’m happy.  And, they have a laundry service!  I’ve already spent about $500 on laundry and still have 2 weeks left over here.  Think it would have been cheaper to buy new clothes.
There is a “wellness” center and the hotel offers a great massage service.  I tired to book a massage for tomorrow but was informed that the massage staff is “on vacation”.  Now this is the busiest time of the year for this little hotel and town because there is a huge classic car and horse racing event here.  Hard to believe that they would pick this week to go on vacation.  Of course, if they are like most Swedes, they are on vacation for a month!
Dinner was fabulous.  I had the risotto but some of the others had steak, lamb, venison (reindeer), salmon (not me….I’m laying OFF the salmon for a while!), perch.  Really good food.
Going to bed soon since I feel like I didn’t sleep at all last night.  No gym so if the weather is good, I’ll go for a run along the lake tomorrow before heading over for sound check!

It was raining when I got up to jog so had to do the “rubber bands” exercises in my room.  Had breakfast with a couple of the guys, gave the front desk my laundry and we headed over to the venue.
As I mentioned, this is the most beautiful venue I’ve ever seen.  It is an old limestone rock quarry and a famous opera singer convinced the city to make it into a performance venue.  It has a permanent stage with beautiful dressing rooms, green room, offices and for the first time this year – wireless internet.   Sound check went smoothly and Carlene did all her interviews – 5 total.  She is filming a DVD with a Swedish company, so that is taking quite a bit of her time.  I met the Swedish group – Calaisa – who will be opening for her.  It is 4 girls – 2 groups of sisters – and they have a very unique story.  They went to Nashville and were just playing around at the clubs downtown for “tips”.  James Stroud saw them and signed them to his record label!  So they are actually signed to a Nashville Record label now. They have beautiful harmonies and are very pretty girls.
We had lunch at a restaurant at the “top” of the venue.  I didn’t get to go up there last year because it poured rain all day and night when I was here with Dwight Yoakam.  Went back to the hotel and I worked on email and checked on my laundry which still wasn’t ready.   We had two groups going to the airport – one at 3:30 am and the other tomorrow at 11 am. Since I am staying in Stockholm, I was going to ride in with the group at 11 am.  But, there were some last minute flight changes that I was not aware of when booking the transportation and I wasn’t sure there would be room for me.  So, I was concerned that I would get my laundry back before 3:30 am.  Turns out there is going to be room for me in the 11 am vehicle (whew!).
The venue was a little more than half full and I had hoped for better ticket sales.  I’m sure the rain is keeping a lot of the crowd away.  There is a Classic Car Convention and a Boat Show in town.  The traffic is really bad trying to get to the venue but the cars that are here are unbelievable.  There is even an orange GTO “Judge” like I had when I was a teenager – back in my wild days of “drag racing”! J  Again this year, no one is allowed to use an umbrella so they wear really colorful slickers.  When you look out at the audience, it looks like a bag of skittles.   The production and venue staff are wonderful to work with…very accommodating and want to make sure we have everything we need.  The Director who books all the talent for the “series” is an especially nice man.  It’s so much more fun when you work with such good people.
Carlene has a very high energy show and the crowd loved her. The rain eased off during her performance which was really nice.  At one point, she went out onto a floating barge in the lake surrounding the venue and performed one song.  She and her husband, Joe, also do a duet together and they went out into the crowd to sing.  Audience loved that.  The promoter was very pleased with her performance.    She signed autographs for about an hour afterwards and we got back to the hotel at around 1 am.  My laundry was NOT in my room so I’m really glad that I don’t leave at 3:30 am because there is no one at the reception desk!

Driving for 4 hours with Carlene to the Stockholm airport.  They fly to London and I stay at the Radisson Airport Hotel (my second home!) for a couple of days.  Lindsey from my office and John my new artist fly in early tomorrow morning.  We’re going to do some sightseeing in Stockholm tomorrow.
I had told our driver over and over yesterday that we needed a trailer hooked to the van because we had a lot of large pieces of luggage.  I saw him again at breakfast this morning and he was STILL asking whether we needed a trailer.  I told him not to wait until it was time for us to go to try and find the trailer.  When we went outside to depart, he did have the trailer hooked to the van and we definitely needed it.  The 4 hour drive passed quickly with Carlene, Joe and Bob because they are so much fun to talk too.  It was a good tour – just much too short.   I did learn that Carlene fell down – really hard – as she was going on-stage last night.  Someone from the DVD crew made her go outside the venue – where it had been raining and the floor was very slick – and enter the stage that way.  She took 2 steps and fell.  Thankfully nothing was broken.
Got to the airport right on time and I “hiked” over to the Radisson between Terminal 4 and 5.  No new restaurants and the food sucks here.  Oh well, it’s only lunch, dinner, and breakfast here.  Talked to Lindsey and John and their flights are on time, so I’ll be meeting them at 7:30 am tomorrow morning.  Not sure they will be ready to go sightseeing as soon as they arrive or if they are going to need to take a “nap” first!
Nothing else exciting going on other than hundreds of emails to answer.   My office did notify me that I received a box of books with a note from a soldier that I met in Afghanistan in 2002.  It was my first tour to that area and I was with Darryl Worley.  Karri Turner, Kathy Griffin, Bradshaw, the Army Band and some cheerleaders were also on the tour.   The soldier is back in the U.S. and has written a book and mentions in the book how much our visit boosted their morale.   I can’t believe that after 5 years he would take the time to find me and send such a wonderful note and gift.  Every tour overseas for our troops is life-changing for me and the artists.   When the tour ends, I never want to come back to the U.S. and I always leave the area wondering if I did enough to show them how much we appreciate them.  Sure inspires me to know that we did touch Major Diggs Brown’s life.  The title of his book is, “Your Neighbor Went to War”.  Can’t wait to get home and read it.