TUESDAY, JULY 29TH – SWEDEN
Totally spaced last night on sending a road report. Did not even type one. So now I’m sitting her early morning trying to remember what I did yesterday. Nothing memorable obviously. Worked out at the great gym at the Oslo Radisson Airport Hotel then had breakfast, showered and packed for my departure to Stockholm. No problem checking in since I was on SAS instead of LH today. It was only a one hour flight and everything was smooth until we started landing. Then the turbulence hit and they had us circling in it for a while. Seems every time we have to circle, it’s when the weather is less than perfect.
I got checked into the Radisson Sky City Airport Hotel in Stockholm. These hotels are so nice and convenient. They are built for the business traveler with all the amenities we look for – free wireless internet, coffee maker, fantastic gyms, English speaking channels on the tv. This one is a 4-star hotel. I’ve stayed at this one way too many times. All the hotels are connected to the airport terminals, so all you do is walk from the arrival area to the reception area. The train station is always located at the airport, so you can go into Oslo, Stockholm, etc. in a matter of minutes for sightseeing, etc. Radisson has now built one in Zurich and that’s where I’ll be staying next time I have a “layover” there. The only negative to these hotels are the restaurants. It’s definitely “airport” food, even at the nice restaurants in the hotels. After staying here so many times, I knew finding something to eat would be a challenge. I ate lunch in Oslo before I departed because at least their airport food is a little better than Stockholm.
After answering emails for about 4 hours, I went in search of a “new and exciting” restaurant. Ha! Finally found one that I had not tried that offered Indian Food which is usually a safe bet in Europe. Actually, it turned out to be better than anywhere I’ve eaten in this airport. They let me select the items I wanted in a salad and then I had Chicken Tandoori that was good. Back to the room to answer emails until 1:30 am when I passed out without writing a road report. Gene Watson comes in Wednesday and we drive a couple of hours to Gavle where he will perform in Furuvik at a great festival there. I’ve worked with Gene before in Japan and he is a sweetheart. Not to mention the fact that he is one of the best singers ever in Country Music. I will only have Wednesday and Thursday with him as I leave early Friday for Germany to meet with the Bellamys again and Gene departs for Ireland.
Will try to remember to write my road report before passing out tonight!
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30TH – GAVLE, SWEDEN:
So, I got the date wrong yesterday. Like I said, I can’t remember what day or date it is anymore.
Had a great workout in the hotel gym this morning. I did my own version of “cross training”. There is this really strange elliptical machine. I tried it last year and almost crippled myself on it. You stand on it and walk but your feet go out to the side when you step. You are supposedly “floating”. It sure works some muscles I didn’t know I had. Anyway, I did that for 15 minutes, then 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer, 15 minutes on the stair stepper and 15 minutes on the treadmill.
Had a quick breakfast of all natural yogurt and fruit and then showered and started working. Took a break around 2 pm and went back to the same restaurant and they let me pick the ingredients for my own salad again. I walked through all the terminals looking for a book in English (which I finally found) and a European curling iron for Susan Bellamy (which I did not find).
This hotel also has an iron and ironing board right there in the closet. I was tempted to iron ALL my clothes because goodness knows they need it. But it wouldn’t do much good since I would have to roll them back up and put in the suitcase again. Usually I get so tired of living out of a suitcase but I think I may finally have this packing thing down. I “roll” all my clothes and then put them in mesh packing cubes, sorted by long pants, long sleeve shirts, short pants, short sleeve shirts. Makes it so easy to just reach in and grab the right “cube” to get dressed.
Walked over to Terminal 2 to meet Gene Watson and his group plus our drivers – Harri and Thomas. Harri and Thomas are wonderful. I’ve worked with them for years and they are like family to me. I had talked to them before I walked over but when I got there, they weren’t there. I waited and waited and finally called them because Gene’s flight had landed. They showed up a few minutes later and said there was no where to park because of construction.
While we were waiting for Gene and his group to come out, I noticed that there was only one very tiny elevator. A line of people was quickly forming to use it. Then I figured out why. The first female in line had not pushed the button to call the elevator. I had Harri go over and push it for her. Then about 5 minutes later the same thing happened. Harri once again went over and pushed the button. The third time it happened, I told Harri he should charge 20 Kroner each time he had to push it!
It took Gene over an hour to come out so I assumed they had missing luggage. Yep. Clinton Gregory (fiddle player) had a lost bag. At least this time the airline gave him a little toiletry kit. The kit also included a plain white t-shirt – size XXL and he wears a small. They told him the can’t get his bag to him until tomorrow on the same flight. That’s ridiculous since there are plenty of flights each day from London to Stockholm! I’ll call on this tomorrow.
We went straight to the restaurant in the park where we always have dinner as there was not time to check into the hotel first. I know how tired everyone was and was surprised that they all agreed to go to dinner. I did tell them it was the best meal in Europe and they shouldn’t miss it. It’s true. Every year I “rave” about the food at this restaurant. Tonight was definitely NOT a disappointment. I had salmon in this sauce that is to die for. Kjell – our promoter – and Tom – the owner of the park – met us at the restaurant. They are “family”, too.
Johnny Bush and his band a couple of Texas artists – Jeff Chance and Leslie Tom – met us at the restaurant. The restaurant is located right on the Baltic Sea. With the sun setting in the background, it was a beautiful setting. After dinner, we all walked out onto the beach and took our annual “group” photo. Then we had dessert which is always their local delicacy “cloud berries” with ice cream. It was delicious, too. I could see that Gene was really tired, so we herded everyone into the vans and headed for the hotel. I changed sound check time from 8:30 am departure to a 10 am departure since Gene is the only one sound checking.
If you got my road report last year, you know that this is the animal park where Ing-Marie is the only female who can “live” with the chimpanzees. She has “raised” several who would otherwise have died when then mothers were killed. A few years ago, she had “Manda” on her stomach 24 hours a day. Harri told me that she just got a new baby a few days ago. Can’t wait to see her and the new baby! We will visit with her tomorrow afternoon after sound check and the press conference.
The closest city is Gavle where all the Gevala coffee is made! I love coming to this festival because I have so many wonderful friends here. This is the 27th year for the event!!!
Going to bed soon. Bad storm in Nashville knocked out the cable system which means I can’t access our “shared” folders which means I’m pretty much screwed as far as getting much more work done!
THURSDAY, JULY 31ST:
Sarah: get ready to laugh. 🙂 I got up early and did Pilates. Would rather have gone for a run but didn’t have enough time. Went down to breakfast and most of the band was already there. I was surprised to see them so early. Evidently one of them woke up and they had forgotten to close the curtains. He thought they had overslept so he woke up the other guy and told him they needed to hurry and get downstairs before they missed breakfast. When they got downstairs, the wasn’t anything in the restaurant. They asked the front desk and he told them that breakfast wasn’t available until 7 am. It was 4:45 am. 🙂 We rode out to the venue for sound check and I rode in the van with all the musicians. We were almost at the park when I started smelling a really foul odor. I could hear the guys in the back whispering and one of them was saying, “Steve I can’t believe you did that. There’s a lady in the van”. Then there was lots of whispering about who was at fault and should they roll down the window. Thomas, our driver, said, “We have a paper mill here.”. Sure made the boys happy. LOL Stage was set up and ready for us and Steve the production manager was there making sure things ran smoothly. Only thing missing was the same thing that is missing every year–water. Kjell got on the phone and had it delivered within minutes. Weather is absolutely perfect today. I had an email from travel agent saying my flight tomorrow has not been cancelled and he pasted all the flights that were going to fly into the email. Only thing is, my flight was not on there. So I am waiting for his office to open before I panic. Clinton Gregory is playing fiddle with Gene. He is amazing not only on the fiddle but also vocally.
After sound check, we went back to the hotel to have lunch. The front desk said that the lost bag was at the airport and would be delivered to the hotel no later than 4 pm. When he got the suitcase, it was torn and pretty much unusable plus they had stolen his portable DVD player out of it! Had lunch with the guys and some of them ate the buffet and some ordered from the menu. Several of the guys and Gene ordered the hamburger but it came with a strange “sauce” on it and most of them did not like it. One of the guys decided he would go get a piece of chicken from the buffet since he didn’t like the burger. We were watching him when he took one bite of the chicken. His mouth started moving but he wasn’t speaking and he couldn’t get the piece of chicken out of his mouth fast enough. Guess he didn’t like that “sauce” either! J
We had an afternoon thunderstorm but it passed over very quickly.
We held a press conference with all the artists from 2 pm until 3 pm. They asked some good questions and everyone had input regarding country music and what is happening with country radio today.
After the press conference, most of us went to visit the “animals” in the park. As many of you know from my road reports each year, this is a special treat. Ing-Marie is one of the only women in the world who can live with the chimpanzees and talk to them. She has “raised” several from infants and she just received a new “baby” to raise. She and her husband have to hold the baby constantly. It never leaves their side. They sleep with it and walk around with it all day. This one is only 5 weeks old and her name is Selema. She is so beautiful. There will be photos of her on my website later next week.
The visit started with Ing-Marie telling everyone the history of the chimpanzees and then she took us in to meet Santimo. He is 30 years old now and she raised him from a baby so he respects her as his equal. The will beat his chest and fling himself around the cage, rattling the bars and slamming his fist against the metal walls for several minutes to show us he is the “boss”. Then he will calm down. He is great at “grooming” the painted toes of women. I tried to get him to do it to me but he wasn’t interested for some reason. He did take a branch and strip all the leaves off it and stick it through the bars. He wanted us to “play” with him. When you grab the end of it, he immediately pulls it back. Then he found a rope and did the same thing. He has the strength of 4 men, so there is no way you can win.
The group walked over to look at some of the other chimps in the next cage. Santimo jumped down and sat on the floor right in front of me in the cage. He slammed his fist once on the bars to get my attention and then stuck his finger through the bars and gave me a “come here” motion. I walked over and stuck my foot close to the bars. He immediately began smacking his lips (which is what they do when they are grooming you so you know that they are enjoying themselves) and took his finger and “cleaned my toes and toenails”. To have the strength of 4 men, he is unbelievable gentle. It’s quite an experience.
We visited with the other chimps – Penny, Linda, and the “baby” Manda. Ing-Marie was carrying Manda 24 hours a day two years ago when we were here. Now the other chimps have accepted her as one of theirs. The Orangutans have a new home this year in a separate house that is very nice. I got some great photos of them, too. It’s always such a special visit and Ing-Marie is most definitely a special person.
Back to the hotel to have dinner which was also a buffet if you wanted. I opted for it since we didn’t have much time. We left for the show and when we arrived, we were supposed to take a golf cart through the park to the stage. Only the golf cart had a flat tire! We managed to get the vans through the crowds and Gene took the stage right on time. Clinton Gregory opened by singing two songs and the crowd loved him. I loved every minute of Gene’s show. What an amazing singer and what great songs he has. If you have ever had a “sad love affair”, his songs will bring back every moment to you. I was standing backstage and the promoter came up to me crying and said he’s the best singer they have ever had at the festival. As many great entertainers as we have had here, I would have to agree and know that they would too. The man is a legend!
Gene signed autographs after the show and for the first time in the history of my visits here, the audience lined up in a line! We have a new security company this year instead of using the local “football” team. But, boy those young football players sure were cute! J
I sat by Clinton on the ride back to the hotel and this guy is hilarious! We got back to the hotel a little after midnight and I was supposed to be picked up by a taxi at 4 am which meant getting up at 3 am. Then, I got an email message saying the Bellamys had missed their flight out of JFK! I was meeting them in Munich at 11 am tomorrow. No reason for me to depart the hotel at 4 am if I’m not meeting them tomorrow. I had to stay up until I could find out what they were going to do. Evidently, they got stuck in traffic in NYC and it took them 3 hours to get to the airport. When they arrived, the agent would not let them check in because they weren’t there an hour and a half prior to flight time. They were there one hour prior to flight time. The only thing available was the same flight tomorrow. Fortunately, the festival they were playing on August 1st had been cancelled, so they don’t perform until August 2nd. Will be hard to fly all night and have to do a show when they arrive, but they will pull it off. I had to call the promoter at 1 am and tell him to change the bus to the same time on the 2nd. ]
So, lots of work, but at least I get to go to bed tonight instead of staying up all night. Plus I can go to the airport with Gene and his guys and say goodbye. I’ll just stay at the Radisson Airport Hotel again tomorrow night and fly out on Saturday!
Okay, I am signing off and going to bed!
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1ST – 10 DAYS TO GO!!!
That sure looks good – only 10 more days before I go home.
And, I got FIVE hours of sleep on a night when I thought I wouldn’t even get to go to bed. Got up and went for a jog and weather was beautiful again. Had breakfast with my promoter and then left for the 1 ½ hour drive to the airport. Said a sad goodbye to all my friends in Furuvik. I’m usually there for 3-4 days, so this was a very quick visit for me.
I got Gene and his group checked in and off to Ireland. Checked back into the Radisson in the Airport and answered emails all afternoon. I went back to the same restaurant that I found last time and had Indian food again. I don’t mind staying here nearly as much now that I have found decent food!
Found out what happened with the Bellamys last night. They left in plenty of time to arrive at the airport for their flight. There was an oil spill on the road and they sat in traffic for more than 3 hours. Their road manager said they are at a hotel 5 minutes from the airport and were going to leave 3 hours early…just in case! My office talked to them an hour ago and they have definitely already checked in. J
I have to get up at 4:30 am tomorrow, so I am going to bed very soon. Just realized that I don’t have another “day off” the entire 10 days I’m over here. Every day is either a show day or travel day or both. But only 10 more days. Yippee! Of course I’m only home for 3 days before I go to an event in Mexico but it will be worth it just to get rid of these clothes.
If you have time, go to the website and look at the photos of the chimps. The baby is beautiful. (www.judysealeinternational.com – click on Roadkill – click on photos on the Gene Watson tour). I realized that I was actually “communicating” with a Chimp yesterday when Santimo decided to “clean my toes”. How strange is that???