OCTOBER 17 AND 18 – DAY ONE AND TWO:
Airport call was at 3:45 AM! From the “looks” of everyone, they all stayed up all night and just came straight to the airport as I did. Small 50 passenger jet to Cincinnati was PACKED. When we arrived in Cincinnati, we were assured that all the equipment that had been flown up the day before was being loaded on to our flight. Only had one casualty. Jolie & the Wanted’s flight was late leaving Omaha and missed the connecting flight in Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. Fortunately, there was another flight and now we’re all – 39 people – total flying over the Pacific Ocean towards Japan. We’re a couple of hours into the flight and have 9 more to go. Sure wish I had the cables to check email on here!
Made it to the hotel and had our “midnight staff meeting”. Only one suitcase is missing – one of the musicians who informed me that he had packed all his money in his suitcase. The “key word” here being “HAD”, I’m sure! We did locate the bag which is still in Los Angeles, but it won’t arrive here until Saturday!
It was a very long flight because none of the movies were worth watching. But, very little turbulence. The plane had very few people on-board – nice for the coach passengers, but horrible for the U.S. economy.
Chad and Jolie both had massages scheduled upon arrival the hotel. I had a “staff meeting” instead.
More tomorrow when things start “happening”, I’m sure. Attached are a couple of photos from the long plane trip. Jolie was “big-eyed” at the size of the airplane and her own personal “video” monitor built into the seat. Trent Summar decided to “snuggle up” to Chad Brock while he was sleeping. Pretty scary.
Wayne, we miss you! Should’a, could’a, would’a!
DAY THREE – OCTOBER 19TH:
This year we are staying at a different hotel from the one we have stayed at for the past 12 years. Our regular hotel is closed for repair due to structural damage from an earthquake – very comforting. When you enter the hotel room, you must place your key in a slot next to the door in order to turn on the electricity. Penny came into my room and said, “How did you get electricity? I don’t have any in my room. I found an emergency flashlight and I’ve been using it!” She did say that she saw the sign on the wall saying, “Please place your key in the slot” but she was “afraid it would take her key and never give it back”! I’m wondering how many other people are wandering around in the dark….
I had to write down the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner for the Japanese TV crew. Ever tried writing those down? I had my production manager and a Canadian helping me with this. We’re all 3 pacing around the lobby of the hotel humming and singing and there’s still one line that no one can get. So, I came up to my room and got on the internet and typed in “Star Spangled Banner”. A site came up and the song started BLARING out of the computer. It was 1 am and I’m sure the person in the room next to me bolted out of bed with her hand on her heart. I’ll check this out in the morning…..
Short night. 3 hours sleep. Today is “sightseeing day”. First stop is a visit with the Deputy Governor. Then off to Suizenji Park. Several people sampled the delicacy of Kumamoto – raw horse (very lean, red meat – served cold! – not me, thank you very much).
Next stop was a Sumo Wrestler restaurant for lunch. We had a variety of Japanese food items including sashimi. Jolie didn’t take a bite of anything – real meat and potatoes girl! After everyone had eaten, there is a “show” where one of the Japanese waiters wades out into the “moat”, scoops up a fish, and flings it to the sushi chef who cuts it up right in front of us. Each table is given a basket and the chef flings the “filleted” fish to the different tables. If it is caught in the basket, another waiter runs over and chops it up. Talk about fresh sashimi….water to table in about 60 seconds.
Last stop was the Kumamoto Castle – an old Shogun Warrior castle. There was a cute little monkey out on the grounds. He was on a long leash and he would hop on your arm and crawl around over your head. He “left a deposit on my back and I really didn’t think he was so cute any more!” The “Welcome Party” was held at Charlie’s nightclub and everyone got up and “jammed” for a couple of hours. This “show” is really a lot more entertaining than the concert.
DAY FOUR – OCTOBER 20TH:
Sound check day! Only one casualty from last night’s party. Beautiful weather. Everyone was able to go up to the volcano and look over in the crater.
One of Danni’s musicians had a birthday today. I bought a “harem” outfit and dressed Charlie’s son (Seiya) up in this with a blonde wig. We told birthday boy that we took up a collection for his birthday to buy him a present but everyone is really “poor” and this was the best that we could do. They played “stripper” music as he “wiggled” out onto the stage. It was great but I think Seiya was liking this a little bit too much….
The weather report has been for beautiful, sunny skies ever since we arrived. Now they are saying 80% chance of rain. Can’t happen. It’s an outdoor concert!
DAY FIVE – OCTOBER 21ST – SHOW DAY!!!
First time in thirteen years that it is raining on concert day. On the 10th Anniversary, we had a typhoon the day before and it still cleared up before noon on concert day. I’m praying that the same will happen today. We can’t afford a “rain out” after all the problems we had this year just getting here!
Started the day with a migraine – always brought on by stress. On the drive up to the venue, it looked like it was going to clear up. There was a crowd of people already sitting out front with umbrellas. We did have a good crowd but not as much as we had hoped if the weather had been pretty.
Jolie went on stage to sing the National Anthem and everyone from America walked on behind her wearing special t-shirts which said, “GLOBAL PEACE THROUGH COUNTRY MUSIC”. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when she finished.
It rained non-stop all day but the crowd stayed. It was really a colorful sight with all the umbrellas spread out across the grounds. Coca-Cola company gave me this great iron “helmet”. It is not supposed to be worn but I did walk around with it on for a while. Weighs about 50 pounds and has two large screws that dig into your scalp. So, I wore it for a very short time. You have to be very careful about telling someone you “like” something because they will give it to you. I loved a short kimono one of the sponsors was wearing and, of course, he gave it to me. After “sporting it around” all afternoon, I found out that the sponsor was “Kumamoto Cow” and that’s what all the Japanese writing said on the kimono. As much as I’ve eaten over here, it should have been “Kumamoto Pig”!
We had a sponsor presentation and Charlie explained that in 13 years, we have never had rain. We had an earthquake and a typhoon, but always on Country Gold, it has been beautiful weather. Charlie says that it is because he always prays so hard that God listens and doesn’t let it rain. But, this year, he prayed so hard and he couldn’t stop it because it is the “tears of the victims from September 11th”!
It was another wonderful event – unlike any other festival that I work with. The artists had the time of their lives. We fly back to Nashville tomorrow.
DAY SIX – FLYING HOME
Forgot to mention one of the funniest events on Concert Day. Everyone was on the bus ready to go to the venue for the show. One musician (whose name I shall withhold to protect the innocent!) was standing in front of the hotel smoking a cigarette. He saw us all waiting on the bus but made no effort to move toward us. We told the bus driver to “drive off”. The look on this guy’s face was priceless. You could see him mouth, “Oh S….” and sprint towards the bus. After a couple of hundred yards, he just stopped with this crest-fallen look on his face. Of course we stopped and let him catch up with the bus and, of course, everyone had to “jeer” at him when he got on.
When we got to the Kumamoto airport, security was pretty impressive but in typical Japanese fashion – totally unorganized. They were having us line up so that ALL of our checked luggage could be searched. Then we were sent to another line to get a boarding pass. Then we were sent back to the first line to check in our luggage! Asking them to change it would have sent it to “committee” so we just “took charge” and had everyone get the boarding passes first, then move over to have the luggage searched and checked in the other line. I had put a swiss army knife in my purse for use at the venue and forgot to take it out. They never found it when checking me for the internal flight but I got “caught” when checking in for the International Flight.
We had lunch at the Nagoya airport and Jolie had spaghetti that tasted exactly like Chef Boyardee (or however you spell it!). She was in heaven. Her drummer left his billfold somewhere and so far, no one has turned it in. Her keyboard player finally got his suitcase that Delta lost on Sunday night – just in time to fly it back home with us.
Everyone slept the entire flight from Nagoya to Los Angeles. Coach passengers had 5 seats each to lie down in! We had a great flight crew and the pilots even came out and chatted with us. No problems in LA and arrived Cincinnati on time. Got on the little 50 passenger plane to fly to Nashville, taxied out on the runway and then were told that we had a computer problem and would have to return to the terminal. I assumed we would be stuck in Cincinnati overnight since it was already 11:30 pm. But, they fixed the problem quickly and we arrived Nashville around midnight. No lost luggage or gear, but we did have one of our Seattle passengers Bass Guitar in with our pieces! I’m attaching a great shot I took of Scott Olson – my production manager – on our last day. The “girl” in the shot is actually a cardboard stand-up that I found underneath the hotel stairway (and don’t ask what I was doing under the stairs!).