SATURDAY, JULY 29TH
Flight from – where was I – oh yeah, Nantes, France with a connection to Paris and arrival in Stockholm — was pretty uneventful. Everything was on time. I had asked NOT to be assigned a bulkhead seat and of course, I was. But I was too tired to even care!
Arrived at the Stockholm airport and got checked into the Radisson Hotel which is located inside Terminal 5 – pretty strange. Grabbed a quick lunch and then got to work on answering emails. Unless I look out my “window”, I can’t tell that I am actually inside an airport.
SUNDAY, JULY 30TH:
Stayed up and worked pretty late last night but it was “heaven” to be able to “sleep in” today. Didn’t even set an alarm for the first time in I don’t know WHEN. When I got up, I went downstairs and got a cup of coffee and then went to the EXCELLENT gym that they have in the Radisson. I’m beginning to feel a little like Tom Hanks in that movie where he had to LIVE in an airport terminal. I think I could do it. J
After a killer (literally) workout, went to the room and showered. Now, here’s the great thing about this hotel:
High speed internet and it’s FREE
Air conditioned rooms that the individual controls
A REAL shower head – not the wand type that flies off, smacks you in the head then hoses down the entire bathroom before you can grab it.
Wash cloths – first ones I’ve seen since leaving the U.S.
Hair Dryer – not the big “box” things that have a long hose attached and are as effective as drying your hair with a cigarette lighter
TV – BBC and CNN (which I refuse to watch) – English speaking channels
The only drawback is that the view from my window is the inside of the terminal downstairs and the airplanes on the flight line outside.
After showering, I decided to check out all 4 of the terminals in search for a LARGE bottle of water. Only thing I could find in my terminal were the small bottles and I went through 6 of those last night. Pretty much the same shops in all the terminals with “Sky City” being the best and where the Radisson is located. Got a salad and ate it while they were cleaning my room and then went back upstairs to work. Decided NOT to take the 20 minute train ride into Stockholm today because it is Sunday and most of the shops are closed. I did all the “sightseeing” things last year with my friend Patricia. Also, not a lot of fun to go into town alone. I had planned to really pamper myself and get a massage. Evidently, the Swedish Massage is just an “American thing” or that’s what the front desk tells me. The hotel does not have this service and they only found one hotel downtown that had a spa and offered massages. I remember several of us paying for massages in Sweden last year and all being disappointed by how bad they were. Guess I’ll wait until I get to London or Austria and have another day off. I really think the massages have helped with keeping my migraines away though.
Have to meet Dwight’s crew when they arrive at the airport tonight at 10:30 pm. Just going to pay for my room for an additional day and keep it. That way I can leave all my “stuff” here and just take a bag with clothes for one day in Rattvik, Sweden. Buyer said the show is almost sold out and should be completely sold out by the time he performs tomorrow – 3,500 people.
Went over to Terminal 5 to meet the DY crew. I called the driver and asked him where he was so I could check out the vehicle he brought. He replied, “I’m on the toilet in Arlanda”. MUCH more information than I wanted to know. Nice guy named Owe. We went out to look at the vehicle and it was a small 16 passenger van – no trailer and no cargo van as I had requested. He said he was told there would be 8 people with 8 small suitcases. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many times we STRESS to the buyer that there will be at least 2 large suitcases per person AND several huge guitar cases, they always show up with some little Toyota-sized van. He got on the phone to his bus company and they informed him that he would have to drive back into Stockholm to pick up another vehicle – which meant an hour wait for us. Not an option since it was a 3 hour drive from the airport up to the hotel by the venue.
Dwight’s crew managed to pack everything into the van – including using most of the seats and then we had to pack the people in for a 3 hour drive. Not good. We arrived at the hotel at 3 am and of course, it is a hotel where the reception desk closes at 10 pm. All the keys were outside in a drop box. But, one of our guys opened his room to find that the bed had been slept in and the towels had been used. With no one at the reception desk to “fix” this, the best we could do was give him the driver’s room and let the driver deal with it. Not off to a very good start.
MONDAY, JULY 31ST:
Got up and had breakfast with some of the crew. Evidently the guy who switched rooms with the bus driver didn’t have a bed in his room – only a fold-out cot! I tried to get him to let me change his rooms but he had already unpacked and didn’t want to deal with it.
We went over to the venue – Dahlhalla – and it is so beautiful, it is breathtaking! It is an old limestone quarry but was formed over 350 billion years ago when a meteor fell to earth. When it fell, it “bounced” and half of it was above ground (picture a golf ball half way buried by the earth). The half that was on top of the ground was “round” and made a huge mountain. Then the ice age came and chipped away at the mountain. This left the mineral deposits which were “sideways” and the limestone was easily mined. If you were to fly over Dalhalla, you would see that lakes and rivers make a complete circle around where the meteor originally was located. In the early 90’s a popular female opera singer wanted to know why Italy, France, etc., all had beautiful outdoor venues for opera performances but Sweden didn’t have one. She began visiting rock quarries and finally convinced one of the owners to let her use the one that was no longer being mined. She secured funding from the city and state governments and held her first concert in 1995. Slowly, the quarry was renovated and entertainment other than Opera was booked there. Today it is one of the most fabulous venues I have ever visited. The stage is huge and covered with numerous small and large dressing rooms backstage, plus a sauna and showers. The entire building is surrounded by a small “lake”. I thought it was very shallow but there is actually a diving board over one section where the water is 16 feet deep. Just last weekend, they held a show with jet skiis, boats and divers. The seating is all reserved and goes all the way up the hill to where there are restaurants and other buildings. There is a fountain on one side that they light during shows. There season is very short due to the weather AND the daylight hours. They open the first weekend of June and close the first weekend of September.
I got to spend quite a bit of time with the buyer – Hakan – and he was a real sweetheart and very knowledgeable. He is also an accomplished musician and conductor. He said that they try to bring in several shows each year that are not Operas. There is a huge classic car convention – the largest in all of Sweden – which took place this weekend. I have never seen cars like I saw today in the U.S.! Anyway, the organizers of that event need things for the people attending to do while they are in town. So, they asked Dalhalla to bring in a country music artist. Dwight had sold all but about 200 tickets by the morning of the concert.
Soundcheck was painless – great group of people to work with. We went up to the top of the quarry and had a great lunch. Was able to go back to the hotel for a couple of hours to answer emails, then back to the venue for the show.
The promoter also said that when an entertainer performs there, he wants them to do something that they never do on any of their other concerts. They had one man who rode around in a boat and sang a few songs acoustically before he went on stage to do his show. They have put different players – clarinet, horns, etc. – up on different ledges above the stage, lit them and let them play solos prior to the beginning of the shows. So, next year I have to find them an artist who is willing to do something unique to open their show. Although, they may want Dwight back again!
There is an orchestra pit beneath the floor of the stage. But, because it is below water level, it’s very cold and damp in there. It was too cold for the players to use, so they went 180 meters underground to tap into the “heat” and brought up the hot water to circulate in pipes beneath the floor of the orchestra pit. The buyer said it’s so nice and warm in there now that the player can sit with their shoes off and put their stocking feet on the warm floor.
Dwight and his band arrived on time from Stockholm and just as the opening act began, so did the rain! No one left. Umbrellas are not allowed because they block the view so everyone put on a slicker. I took photos because when you looked out, it looked like a bag of “skittles” candy – all green, red, blue – very colorful. Dwight took the stage and sang for 2 hours to an “over-enthusiastic” crowd of fans. Some drove 4 hours from Northern Sweden and some came from as far away as Norway. The rain did not drive any of the away. About an hour and 45 minutes into his set, it started raining so hard you could barely see. Still, more than half the crowd remained. He went back for one encore and they were still begging for more when we shut it down for the evening.
Went backstage and got some items autographed for fans and spend quite a long time talking with Dwight about putting together a tour for the Fall of 2007. With the success of the shows this year, I don’t think we will have any problem getting the dates he wants!
Got back to the hotel at 1 am and started working on email. Stayed up until 4 am answering messages and then got 3 hours of sleep. Plan to sleep on the 3 hour bus ride to Stockholm tomorrow.