WEDNESDAY, JULY 19 AND THURSDAY, JULY 20:
After one much too short week at home, I am off to Europe again…this time for FOUR weeks…hopping from country to country producing festivals with lots of different artists. Today I fly to Kristiansand, Norway where Dwight Yoakam will perform on Friday at an outdoor festival a couple of hours north of Kristiansand. Dwight and his group are flying out of New York City. Dwight and the musicians stay in Oslo and drive to the show on the day of. The crew was supposed to meet me in Amsterdam and fly into Kristiansand with me. But their travel agent messed up their flights and now they have to fly into Oslo and take a van for 5 hours to Kristiansand! So, I won’t see them until late Thursday afternoon. Chely Wright and her group departed today for a show in Germany for her record label. I meet her in Holland on Saturday for a performance there on Sunday.
My flight was delayed out of Nashville (IMAGINE THAT!!!) to Detroit because the inbound plane was coming from Minneapolis and there was weather in Minnesota. I was supposed to leave at 1:30 and it was delayed until 2:55. But I had a long layover planed in Detroit, so I thought I would be okay since I was scheduled to depart Detroit for Amsterdam at 7:00 pm. We boarded the flight in Nashville to Detroit and after several minutes, the pilot came on and said, “Flight attendants prepare the cabin for ARRIVAL”. I thought he had made a mistake and meant to say DEPARTURE. Nope. Seems there was now a mechanical problem…maybe caused by the extreme heat (heat index was over 100 degrees today!) or maybe not. So, we sat and sat and I figured I would miss my connection. I asked the flight attendant and was basically told, too bad, you’ll just have to wait and see!
We finally pushed back and I figured we would land in Detroit around 6:30-6:45 pm. The pilot NEVER came on and said anything…no “sorry for the delay. We’ll try to make up some time in flight. We should land at ?….NOTHING”. The flight was EXTREMELY bumpy maybe cause by the heat as well, IF heat does that. Landed at 6:30 and by the time we taxied, it was 6:45 pm. I RAN from gate 17 to gate 34 and I mean I was moving. Two guys on the moving walkway came off beside me laughing because I had passed them without the benefit of the walkway. Made it onto the flight with minutes to spare and assume I will never see my luggage again. Kristiansand is a great town to go shopping in. J I had planned to eat dinner in the airport on my long layover so I could sleep all the way to Amsterdam. Oh well…
Flight to Amsterdam was BUMPY, too. Heat again??? Landed a little late and I ran to the gate..again. Made this flight and as I was getting on, I saw one of my bags being loaded. Of course, it is the bag that is filled with my exercise wear and shoes. Sure hope my other bag makes it!
Landed in Norway at the tiny Kristiansand airport. BOTH MY BAGS MADE IT. Went out front to meet the taxi that was picking me up and no one was there. I had the phone number and called him. I was told that he had been there but when I didn’t come out, he left. Now, keep in mind, I was out front exactly 30 minutes after we landed! And that is with picking up luggage and going through customs. It took him 15 minutes to come back and get me. Then, I had to lift both of my HEAVY bags into his trunk with no help from him. He dropped me off at the hotel and again, I had to take my bags out of the trunk AND carry them up the stairs of the hotel. No bellmen here!!
I remember this hotel from when I stayed here many years ago with the Bellamy Brothers. Nice hotel but what I remember is arguing with our promoter about merchandise sales. He had “lifted” a horrible photo of the Bellamys on the web and printed up “black and white” tee-shirts and was selling them. Our contract specifically stated that no one but the Bellamys could sell merch.
Got checked in and then went for a jog along the waterfront. Kristiansand is right on the water and all the big cruise ships stop here. I jogged past an old fort where we performed with another promoter the year after the merch sales incident. I remember that this time, the promoter who had violated the contract the year before had his wife come to this event. She would walk around outside the fort with a tee-shirt rolled up. Then she would walk up to the people going in for the concert and try to sell them one. Many people purchased one and then they got inside and saw the nice tee-shirts that the Bellamys had for sale. They wanted us to “exchange” the ones they had purchased outside for one of our nice ones! Strange the things I remember about various places I visit.
It was a great jog. The front desk asked how I could jog when it was so hot. HA. It was about 70 degrees with a great breeze off the water. Went back to the room and took a shower and waited for Dwight’s crew to show up. Answered a lot of email then decided to walk downtown and buy some water. I figured if I left, then the crew would get here. I was right. They arrived when I was out but I had left rooming sheets for everyone with the front desk.
I met the guys for dinner in the restaurant and it was excellent. I had the grilled fish and you cannot go wrong with fish in Norway! So, now I am trying to finish this report so I can get 4 hours of sleep before we have to go to the venue tomorrow.
FRIDAY, JULY 21ST:
Thought today would be an “easy” day. WRONG. Dwight’s crew and I departed for the venue to load in and sound check at 8:30 am via a van and trailer. It took 1 ½ hours to drive up and the scenery was BREATHTAKING. We drove through fjords and around beautiful lakes. One of the prettiest parts of Norway I have ever seen. The venue is outdoor at the base of spectacular mountains and a waterfall running down the mountain right behind the stage.
Everything was set up and ready for us and the guys started their load in. I went around and found the dressing rooms, office, catering, etc., to make sure everything would be in place for Dwight’s arrival. Saw lots of my friends who work at other festivals as well. While I was walking around, I saw a familiar face. A guy who used to work for the Bellamy Brothers met a Norwegian girl on one of our tours to Norway, fell in love, married her, and moved to Norway. He is working for the production company that is handling this concert. It was so great to see him. The look of shock on his face when I went up and hugged him was priceless.
The crew took longer than we expected and we didn’t get back to the hotel until after 5 pm. Then I had to go “grocery” shopping with Dwight’s road manager. He has specific things that he wants to eat after the show (as to all entertainers) and some of them were not available in Norway. NO ONE KNEW WHAT HUMMUS IS!! And, there are no Greek restaurants here!!! So, we purchased the ingredients (which were NOT easy to find) and his tour manager made it for him while he was on stage performing.
Barely had time to eat dinner before showering and heading back up for the concert. I had thought I would have time to go running again this afternoon but that didn’t happen. We arrived at the venue at 9:30 pm and Dwight and his musicians drove in from Oslo and arrived at about 10:00 pm. Dwight was in a great mood and as sweet and polite to me as he always is. Several new musicians this year, but all great guys and super talented. Dwight took the stage a little after midnight and after 3 songs ALL THE POWER WENT OUT EVERYWHERE. No one could figure out WHY it went out and I was afraid Dwight would get frustrated and just LEAVE. But, instead he asked us to go to the security detail and get him a megaphone. He talked to the audience and he finished the song they had been singing by flashlight. Then he came off the stage to wait for someone to figure out what was going on. About 5 minutes later, the power came back up. Seems a “drunk” had gotten backstage and pulled the plug on the power lines to the generators!!!! Dwight went back on stage and performed for 2 ½ hours. The festival had the largest crowd they have ever had – around 6,000 people. Dwight was surprised by how many “young” fans he has in Norway. It was a great evening.
We didn’t depart the venue until after 3 am which meant we got back to the hotel in Kristiansand at around 5 am…just in time to shower, pack and leave for the airport. An hour and a half of sleep sitting up in a van is not enough.