DAYS 1, 2, AND 3!
So, I am a little bit behind on my reporting….
Up at 3 am to work out before a very long flight to Japan. Left Nashville on Wednesday, October 16th for Kumamoto. It will be the 14th anniversary of the Country Gold festival. This year’s event features Eddy Raven, Heather Myles, Exile, and the Roland White Band. Plus we have a tv crew, reporter and my staff with me. Still the smallest group I’ve ever brought to this event….only 26 people.
We all departed from various cities and met in Detroit for the flight to Japan. When we landed, we learned that our flight, which was supposed to depart at 12:30 pm, was delayed until 3:30 pm! We had a connection from Osaka to Kumamoto and I knew we would never make it. Got on the phone with the travel agency, who got on the phone with Northwest Airlines and the promoter in Japan. Since the flight was delayed due to “mechanical problems”, it was Northwest’s responsibility to provide lodging and meals in Osaka.
Northwest kept delaying the flight later and later. I don’t understand why they didn’t just put on another plane. There is only one flight a day from Detroit to Osaka and I knew that if we didn’t get out that day, we’d never get out on Northwest as the flight the next day was full. We finally departed at 5:30 pm. There were no movies worth watching and I had one of those days where I could not fall asleep. It was a long 14 hours.
Once we landed in Osaka, Northwest (thanks to our travel agent) had our hotel (which was connected to the airport) booked. However, they had decided to have two people in each room. Got that straightened out and then we checked in. I knew I would have to get up at 3 am to work out and be ready to walk back over to the terminal by 7 am, so just stayed up.
No problems with our flight to Kumamoto, but we were very “behind” on our sightseeing schedule. We had our camera crew filming the artists at the Shogun Warrior Castle, the Sumo Restaurant for lunch, the Suijenzi Park, the meeting with the Vice-Governor and Charlie’s nightclub. We were rushing so, it seems like everything was in “fast forward”! I had to make a call back to Nashville from the castle from one of the pay phones on the grounds. I got absorbed in the conversation and forgot the time. When I hung up, I looked around and everyone was gone. Looked up at the top of the castle and someone waved to me. So, I sprinted (ha!) up the 5 flights of stairs to the top only to find it deserted. Ran back down the stairs and out to the bus to find that everyone was there waiting for me. Very embarrassing!
Weather is beautiful and all the artists are so nice — even with all the unexpected delays and inconveniences. Tomorrow we go to the venue for sound check and sightseeing at the volcano, if it is accessible. HAVE to get some sleep tonight.
SATURDAY – DAY 4 – SOUND CHECK
Finally got 5 hours sleeps and it was a wonderful thing! Up at 5 am to jog but it was pouring rain. Fine for it to rain today, but not tomorrow. By 6 am it had quit raining and got in a great jog.
I should KNOW how the shower in this hotel works after having stayed there for the past 14 years! When you open the door to the bathroom, think RV or cruise ship – very small and compact. The tub is very deep with one of the shower wands. If you turn off the water first, the knobs for the hot and cold are separate, so you either scald yourself or freeze. So, I opted for pushing the knob that switches the water from the shower head to the tub faucet. Learned a very valuable lesson…take the shower wand out of the hook and hold it in your hand. Otherwise, the wand will fly out of the holder, whack you between the eyes, bounce to the sink/counter, knock over the hair spray which will in turn knock over the electric toothbrush which will in turn knock over the glass, which will fall into the sink – and thankfully NOT break. Except for a small, red indention between the eyes, everything looks fine. Hope it doesn’t bruise. At least I know I’m not the only one—Scott (my production manager aka “savior”) said he has read my road reports and now knows that the shower stories are true. He turned his off the same way I did and it flew off the wall and chased him around the shower. Fortunately, he didn’t get whacked by it.
We took the scenic route up to the venue for sound check and sightseeing at the volcano. It is a small, winding road up the mountain and back down the other side. It’s designed for two-way traffic but only wide enough for one-way traffic. One vehicle has to pull over if there is one coming from the opposite direction. They use the big mirrors to see around the curves. The scenery is spectacular but almost everyone got nauseous. We take this same route every year and it’s never made anyone sick before. Maybe it was the weather.
When we arrived at the venue, there had been a strong wind storm and all the signs, banners, and tents had blown down. It was a real mess. The stage was wet and we had to delay sound check until it dried some. But, we still finished ahead of time.
Yesterday at the press conference with the Vice-Governor, he asked if anyone had any questions. J.P. with Exile responded with, “Yes, when can we come back?” THAT was the ultimate compliment because they had such a difficult time preparing for the trip. There is an incredible amount of paperwork involved in securing work visas, registering equipment, etc., and Exile doesn’t have a manager to handle this for them. They had become pretty frustrated prior to our departure. Nice to know they think all the pre-planning and preparation was worth it.
Last year the local newspaper ran a photo of me and inferred that I was one of the artists performing. Same thing happened this year – guess I’m back for a repeat performance.
Had a great dinner tonight at “Angelo’s”, the Italian restaurant. Not going to Charlie’s nightclub – just going to BED!
SUNDAY – CONCERT DAY – DAY 5
Last night when we went to bed, there was a 10% chance of rain on Sunday. When we got up, there was a 70% chance! Unbelievable that we could have rain two years in a row, but we did. It rained prior to the concert beginning and all during Charlie and the Cannonballs set. Then it quite raining and did not rain again during the artists’ shows. We had a big crowd – the newspaper said 20,000 people. No one left because of the rain and it was very “scenic” looking out at all the umbrellas and colorful rain coats.
I went out and walked around the booth area and I think they sold more booths than ever before. I was surprised at how many people I know now in Japan. Lots of them have come to all 14 Country Gold Festivals.
We had the “guests” from Singapore and Toyko there who supposedly want to sponsor the festival next year for Lucent Technology. They are Indian and were very nice. Hopefully, they will come on board as sponsors for 2003.
Coca-cola made special bottles of wine for the event and I helped them with the slogan. It was something like, “Good music, fine wine. Come to Country Gold for a good time”. Very prolific, huh? Someone also made these little pancake type desserts that had Charlie’s photo/logo on them.
No train wrecks at all during the show or afterwards. Artists were all very happy and so was Charlie. We’re always so tired after the concert, that we go to McDonald’s and get food to go, then just pack and crash. This year was no exception. I hate eating fast food, especially in a foreign country, but sometimes it’s necessary.
DAY 6 – HOME
Up early to go to the airport. Scott and I left early with Charlie so we could try to get boarding passes and get things organized before the group arrived. It’s a small airport and staff is very limited. We spent hours just trying to get checked in. We were all lined up waiting to check luggage when 3 Japanese men started climbing over our luggage to get in front of us. Well, I yelled, “Hey you, the line is back here”. They were so surprised that they obeyed me. Climbed back over everything and got in line behind us. The Japanese are always so nice and polite until it comes to getting in line for something. Then they will run over you to get there first.
They also had a really hard time checking the luggage/equipment all the way through to the final destination. Some of the agents told the passengers that they could only check it through to Detroit (where we knew we had to pick it up to clear customs). Scott spent an hour at the counter trying to get his bag checked to Minneapolis!
I woke up with about a dozen “knots” in my neck and back so I got Charlie’s wife to give me a quick massage before we left. She was wonderful but I didn’t have enough time with her. When we arrived Osaka, the ticket counter for Northwest wasn’t open, so we had to kill about an hour before we could get boarding passes. I found a little massage booth and got 15 minutes on the upper body and 15 minutes on the FEET for less than $30 U.S. Little bitty tiny Japanese girl who had hands that could bend steel. I thought she was going to kill me. I could feel her pressing the knots out of my neck and shoulders. But, the feet thing was really painful. She used this wooden stick and I thought she was trying to push it through the sole of my foot. It felt so good when she stopped!
I forgot to take my Swiss Army Knife out of my backpack and pack it (have to carry it to break OUT of bathrooms, you know?). I got stopped at security in Osaka and it took 45 minutes to get it checked to Detroit. They kept arguing with me that Nashville was in Canada!
We finally boarded the plane for Detroit and had incredible turbulence for the first couple of hours. Had to suspend catering service entirely. But we landed, got all our luggage and equipment and split up for our various home destinations. The flight to Nashville was (of course!) delayed by 30 minutes, but eventually we were able to depart. Home at last!