TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31ST AND SEPTEMBER 1ST – NASHVILLE TO WOHLEN, SWITZERLAND:
Flying from Nashville to Zurich today via Dulles for a new festival in Wohlen, Switzerland. It is produced by the same promoter that I work with at the Albisguetli Schutzenhaus in Zurich each year. It is a three-day event with Rock on Friday, Country on Saturday, and “special entertainment” on Sunday. Believe it or not, I didn’t book any of the country acts. I have Joan Jett on Friday and John Kay and Steppenwolf on Sunday. Quite a change for me! Rick Trevino, Tex Maniacs, Rosanne Cash, and Cowboy Crush all perform on Saturday. Very strange not to be “responsible” for them since I’ve worked with them so many times. 🙂
Flight departed Nashville on time on the tiny plane to DC. I slept most of the way because we didn’t get any sleep last night. Zoe was unable to sleep and kept me and Lindsey awake. She didn’t have fever and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. Sounds crazy, but I think she somehow sensed that I am leaving for several days and that Lindsey will be leaving, too. Sure makes it hard to leave her. Lindsey leaves tomorrow to cover two events with Mark Chesnutt in Norway. She gets back to Nashville the same day I return.
Had a very short connection in Dulles and went into the Lounge for a few minutes to open all my emails and answer them later on the flight. This is one of the newly reconfigured planes where the seats in business class also lay totally flat. Only every other row is backwards. I found out yesterday that I am sitting backwards on my flight home and there are no seats available to move me to a forward facing position. Since I’m in this ultra-elite class called “Global”, I thought United could work miracles for me but no luck. My friend who is a pilot for United was emailing me suggestions this morning before I left on how to “throw my weight around” as a “Global member”. Didn’t work. Then he informed me that if Pilots had their way, everyone would fly backwards because it’s so much safer that way. 🙂
My friend Jackie, who works for United and takes great care of me, met me on the plane. I wasn’t expecting her and it was great to see her after so many months. We chatted until the flight took off and she introduced me to all the flight attendants in our cabin. (And, she had them sneak me a bottle of water all for myself!).
I am watching a movie titled “Letters to Juliet” and so far, it is good. The elderly lady sitting beside me is “strange”. She has an accent which appears to be French. She told the flight attendants that she is not eating until breakfast and then she wants a fruit plate. She lay down, covered up and proceed to snore with her mouth wide open for the entire flight. When she first laid down, the flight attendant came by and tried to fasten her seat belt for her. She woke up and came up swinging! When breakfast came around, she went into the lavatory for 35 minutes. Came out with full makeup, new clothes and a new hairdo. Didn’t matter that she tied up the lavatory from anyone else using it for 35 minutes.
I had the spinach lasagna and for once, the food on United was excellent. I tried to sleep for a couple of hours but don’t think I slept more than about 30 minutes. We landed on time and both my bags made it! I took them to “Left Luggage” and stored them as I was going to stay at the airport and wait for Joan Jett to arrive about 4 hours later. Walked into the train station terminal which I am VERY familiar with and set up my office at Starbucks. Was able to answer emails for several hours, then retrieved my luggage and went to the Arrival Gate. Albi – our promoter – met me there. We waited for Joan, her tour manager, and manager/keyboard player to arrive. The rest of the band is coming in tomorrow. Joan lost her Mom last week and I was worried that she might cancel the Festival. But she is a trooper and didn’t miss a show. I could tell she is very sad though even though I had never met her. Kenny and Ed – her two guys with her – are so nice. We’ve been working with Ed and he’s been great. We arrived at the hotel which is beautiful. The festival is in Wohlen, but the hotel is in Lenzburg – where the famous castle is located. Hope I have time to check it out while I’m here. We had triple-checked with the hotel that they had adjoining suites or suites next door to each other for Joan and her manager. Of course, when we arrived, they had Joan on one floor and the manager on another floor and the road manager and myself in a different building. We finally got everything sorted out but the hotel does not have “suites”. The best they have are two double rooms with a door connecting them! And none of those on the same floor. She was cool with it though and everything worked out.
I rode out to the festival site with Albi and it is very impressive. HUGE tent for all the “4×4 vehicles” (who are sponsoring this event). Check it out at: www.allrad-music-festival.ch. Did a short “site survey” and then had a bratwurst that was grilled fresh for us. I rode back to the hotel with one of Albi’s partner and 2 other staff members. Really nice guys but none of them spoke any English so it was a “quiet ride” for me.
Answered some more emails, unpacked, and then walked down into the small village to the local Migros (mini-Walmart) to buy some water. Ran into Joan, Ed, and Kenny and Kenny and I had a lengthy discussion about the tours for the troops. Joan has always and still constantly donates her time to entertain the troops in war zones – the more desolate the area, the more she is determined to go there. My kind of girl! She also visits Walter Reed and Bethesda on a regular basis. I had tried to get her to go to Iraq after this tour but her schedule just wouldn’t allow it. She is supposed to go back over to Afghanistan with Kellie Pickler later in the year but that is through the USO.
Came back to the hotel to answer more emails and about 8 pm, realized I was hungry. Too tired to walk anywhere so I went to the hotel restaurant and it was superb. I had fresh tomato/buffalo mozzarella salad and it was FRESH. Then had a coconut crusted chicken fillet with rice that had grilled veggies and Thai sauce. Finished it off with a cappuccino. I thought it would be really expensive but the whole mean only cost 55 Swiss Francs which is about $55 U.S…..definitely NOT expensive for Switzerland standards.
Tomorrow is a “day off” for me except for going to the airport to meet Joan’s musicians and later in the day, her agent. I am going to attempt to walk to the train station without getting lost (supposedly about 20 minutes) and take the train to the Zurich airport (again, without getting lost!). I will leave several hours early to make sure I don’t screw it up. Ed said he may go with me and I might try to shame him into it.
Didn’t take any photos today but will make up for it tomorrow. The steeple of a beautiful old church is the view from my window here. The room is ultra-modern – very bright and clean. The floors are light wood and the color scheme is burgundy and off white. Huge bed with down comforter and pillows, a desk, chairs, and a FAN that the hotel actually had for me to borrow. This is a “spa” hotel but I won’t get to take advantage of that….this time. Weather is fabulous. Was about 60 degrees today and is supposed to be beautiful all weekend.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2ND – ANOTHER “DAY OFF” IN WOHLEN – HA!
Have already forgotten what day/date it is! I actually got 5 hours sleep which isn’t very good considering yesterday and today were supposed to be “days off”. Yeah, right!
Breakfast was a surprise. They had the usual “limited European buffet” but they also had a chef making omelets. Really good omelets! I showered quickly so I could go meet The Blackhearts (Joan Jett’s musicians) at the airport. Shower is a bit of a challenge. It’s a hand-held wand but instead of being mounted on the end of the but with the facet, it’s on the side of the wall. I have to press back as close to the wall of the tub as I can to get under the spray!
Checked the status of their flight and found it was arriving 30 minutes early. YIKES. I called Albi and told him and he insisted that I did NOT need to come to the airport. Just wanted me to meet them with their room keys at the hotel. Against my better judgment, I agreed to his plan. Got a lot of work done in that hour and went out front to meet them. Ed (tour manager) was with me and when they pulled into the hotel drive, it was Albi with 3 guys packed in his car and the small van….no truck in sight! Three of the guys had to basically ride “on top” of 18 pieces of huge equipment and luggage that they stuffed in the van. Plus they had to try and lift all that heavy equipment into and out of the seats of the van. I was furious and so was Ed. More than that, the crew and musicians were pretty pissed off, too. Albi’s partner decided they didn’t need the truck and big bus. No idea why he thought that since we had informed them over and over how much equipment/luggage there would be coming in with them.
So, from now on, I will follow my instincts and meet the groups. If I had been there, this would not have happened. I would sent just the 6 guys in the van and then I would have sat on the curb with all the equipment until the promoter could send the truck to pick it up! Lesson learned.
After that little fiasco, I decided I needed to type up a “transportation gird”. The festival has a total of 14 entertainers and all “volunteers” (who don’t speak English) driving them around. Spent many hours just getting the information on Joan Jett and Steppenwolf correct.
I walked downtown to buy a cable for the DSL. I am paying over $25 a day for wireless internet and the wired is free. Only problem is, the connection is all the way across the room from my desk. I asked the sales clerk how many “feet” there were in 20 Meters. He had no idea and spent about 10 minutes “googling” it on the computer. He finally looked at me triumphantly and said, “It is 65 feet”! LOL. Guess I can just drop it out my window and connect down at the front desk with that much cable. 🙂
Back at the hotel and waiting for Bill – the agent for Steppenwolf and Joan Jett to arrive. Have worked with him for years and never met him! His flight landed early and Albi picked him up. I met him when they arrived at the hotel and he’s such a sweetheart. Very classy guy, too! Met with Albi to go over “things” for the rest of the week and correct the transportation grid. Spent another hour re-typing it to fax over to him. Gave myself a monster migraine over it, too! L Took a break and went in search of the train station. Knew I had to do a “trial run” because I was certain I would get lost. I did. But, I finally found it. It’s only about a 10 minute walk, so no problem.
Walked downtown to buy a pizza because I didn’t want to spend 2 hours in the hotel restaurant eating dinner. The Europeans like for you to take your time and enjoy your meal and Americans just want to rush through it and get back to work. I had stopped at the Pizzaria earlier today to find out what time they closed. The waiter remembered me and was so sweet…and funny. I got it for “take away” and rushed back to the hotel so I could work some more. Oh Joy!
Have been working non-stop and it’s almost midnight now. Hoping to get in bed by 1 am tonight. It’s a lot of work to cover two entertainers at the same festival. Tomorrow is “show day” for Joan Jett.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD – JOAN JETT PERFORMANCE IN WOHLEN:
What a day. Got up at 7, had breakfast and left with the crew for the venue for load in. The stage is huge and the production company is awesome. Cleanest cut production company I have ever worked with. For a first year event, everything is running smoother than anticipated. Had a few things to sort out with dressing rooms, passes, merch sales, transportation, but nothing major. Joan and the musicians arrived at 3 and finished sound check at 4:30.
We went back to the hotel and I literally ran to Migros to get some items before they closed. Then hiked to the train station to buy my ticket to the airport to meet Steppenwolf tomorrow morning. I was going to take a taxi because albi said it didn’t cost a lot. I had the front desk call and they were told it would cost 160 swiss francs….about $150 U.S. Sorry but that is a LOT for a 30 minute taxi ride to me. The train only cost me 20 swiss francs! But it takes an hour because I have to change trains in downtown zurich. I can do that without getting lost because I have “experience” there. 🙂
I ordered room service and it was great. Had the caprese salad again and a pasta that was amazing. Left for the show at 9:30 pm and thankfully there is a huge crowd. Joan has an amazing high energy show. Think the promoter will be happy.
Joan’s show was fantastic and the audience was packed with hard core fans. They obviously knew the words to all her songs. Kenny – manager – had 4 guests there that they had met years ago at a military base. He thought they were Air Force but turns out they were all Army – 2 guys and their wives. One wife is also enlisted. We started talking and turns out they went to a lot of shows that I brought overseas – Aaron in Afghanistan and Iraq, Charlie Daniels in Korea. Small world. We are going to stay in touch! I only brought 4 coins with me and gave them all 4. Now I have to mail Joan’s to her and Kenny. 🙁
Got back at the hotel at around 1 am and I have to get up at 5:30 am to hike down to the train station.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH – WOHLEN, SWITZERLAND:
Talk about a “short” night…I had to get up at 5:30 am to get dressed and hike to the train station. Made it about 10 minutes before the train arrived. What an easy trip it is into downtown Zurich. Then a quick train change (just 2 tracks over) and on to the airport. I arrived in time to have a cappuccino and croissant and then met Albi. The group arrived on time and I gave them their rooming sheets, itineraries and per diem and sent them to the hotel while I waited for the big boss – John Kay – to arrive. Had a couple of hours to kill, so I went “shopping” in the airport and actually scored a couple of good items. Also picked up some of the best Swiss chocolate from Spruglii for “gifts”. Walked back to the terminal to try and see Joan and Kenny before they departed. Figured they would be arriving about that time and I could at least say goodbye. No such luck. The driver (I’ve told you the problems we’ve had with those drivers — all nice people who don’t speak any English and do not have a CLUE what they are doing!) took them to Terminal 2 and their flight departs out of Terminal 1. Not a long walk unless you have luggage, which they did, and you aren’t familiar with the airport. By that time, I had to go meet John Kay, so I sent a text to Kenny telling him where to go once he made it to Terminal 1. Heard from them a little later that they were checked in and heading home.
John Kay arrived on time and what a nice man. Really enjoyed talking to him on the ride to the hotel. Gave him all his information and then I answered a few emails and made yet another trip into downtown Zurich. Wanted to do some last minute shopping and knew this would be my last chance. Really didn’t find anything so I headed back to the hotel to work, work, work – trying to answer the 300+ emails that had backed up from last night. Ordered room service and worked all evening long. Joan’s musicians and crew don’t leave until tomorrow so they all went to tour the Castle today. Said it was great. I’m hoping to have a break and get up there tomorrow but might not have time. If not, I’ll see it next time. The big country music festival is tonight at the grounds but since I don’t have transportation, I can’t go out and say hello to all my friends who are performing.
Going to do some “pre-packing” and get in bed maybe by midnight. Have an early call again tomorrow. Have to leave the hotel at 6:45 am with Steppenwolf crew for load in! Doors open at 9 am, so we need to finish up before that. Sure hope the van is on time but know the odds are against me. 🙁
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 5TH – STEPPENWOLF ROCKS SWITZERLAND!
So, 4 hours sleep (normal) and up and ready to go to sound check at 6:45 am. Who in God’s name sound checks at 7 am? Only if they have been up all night beforehand. 🙂
Was able to get one cup of coffee at the hotel before leaving with the 3 crew guys. Also saw Claudia – Rosanne’s tour manager – in the breakfast room and got to say hello. We had this wonderful new driver named Marco from Italy who speaks EXCELLENT English! He is my new best friend and has been SO helpful. The great sound company that they are using was there and setting everything up for us. I went to the VIP Tent to get coffee for everyone and NO ONE was there. The band came over an hour later and I went back over again to check for coffee. Marco was there making coffee! Like I said….! We made 10 cups and I delivered to the stage. Definitely a morale boost. It was so COLD this morning. Felt like it was in the 40’s at least. But it always warms up to around 70 in the afternoon. Of course I forgot and left the wonderful new fleece coat I purchased in my hotel room.
I started working with Marco on the transportation needs. Joan Jett’s musicians/crew were leaving at 10:30 am and once again, they only had a 9 pax van and a small cargo van for them. I explained to Marco that they have 18 pieces of heavy equipment, 8 suitcases and 8 people! He went to work getting the necessary vehicles ready and as soon as Steppenwolf finished sound check, we headed to the hotel to drop them off and pick up Joan’s guys. Everything worked perfectly for us but Rosanne Cash was there and her road manager was trying to get a passenger van and a cargo van to take them to the airport at 10:30 am as well! I did get to say hello to her and the group but I stayed out of the “transportation” issue. Got my guys loaded and off they went. But, not before one of them gave me a bottle of wine as a “thank you”. How sweet is that?
I’ve worked with Steppenwolf before and they are so sweet to me. They have decided I look much younger with the “dark hair” so I shall definitely be keeping the dark hair until death do us part. The comment was “You look like a Rock Star.” If only they knew…..LOL.
I hiked up to the train station to get a gyro because nothing else – other than the hotel restaurant – was open. Everything in the little town closes really early on week nights – shops at 6 pm and restaurants at 8 pm. Then on Saturdays, everything closes at around 4 pm and on Sundays NOTHING is open.
Went back over to the venue at 2:30 pm and I was very concerned about attendance. No one in Lenzberg seemed to know that a festival was taking place. There was a Leonard Cohen concert poster in every shop in the town and not one poster for this festival – not even at the hotel where we are staying. I asked some of the locals at restaurants during the week if they were attending and no one had heard anything at all about it. Rosanne said she got a manicure yesterday and no one in the shop knew anything about it either. Attendance was really good for the Rock night and as I said, I didn’t get to go to the country night. Rosanne mentioned that there wasn’t a very big crowd – maybe 1,500 for her show. When we arrived, there was a really big crowd – probably equal to the size of the one for Joan Jett. The grounds are so huge that it’s hard to judge the size of the crowd. There are huge “restaurants” all around the perimeter with picnic tables and most of the audience would sit there during the performances. There were no seats at the festival, so if they didn’t bring a lawn chair or blanket, they had to stand.
The band on before us was a rock legend in Switzerland and their show ran about 15 minutes over. John Kay and Steppenwolf took the stage and they were awesome. Just totally rocked the place and had a huge group of fans crowding the stage for the entire 90 minute set. I really enjoyed their music.
My friend Iris met me there and is spending the night at our hotel. She is meeting me in Hong Kong in October for some “girl time” which we both desperately need. She is the friend that went to Cairo with me last year. We had dinner at the hotel after the show and she was blown away – not only by how good the food was – but by how friendly and helpful the hotel and restaurant staff are. I met the manager tonight and told him exactly that. Not only is it a truly nice, clean hotel but the meals are way above average for any hotel I’ve stayed at in Europe and the staff cannot do enough to make our visit comfortable. I hope this event was successful and we can do it again next year.
Iris brought her new little Shiatsu – Ginger – with her. Ginger is mostly black with some white markings especially around the face. The backstage area was dirt and something like mulch instead of grass. Ginger was frantically digging holes all over the backstage. Her little white face was completely black. We could not figure out what she was after but evidently she thought there was something “underground”. It was hilarious to watch her.
My phone rang a few minutes after I got back in my room and it was the front desk asking if I was missing a Blackberry. I had left it on the table at dinner. I would definitely have had a panic attack when I realized it was missing.
Going to meet Iris for breakfast at 6:30 am tomorrow so hope not to stay up TOO late. I’ve have several hours to kill before flight time in Zurich so I can answer emails then. Going to bed at a semi-decent hour, I hope!
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6TH – LABOR DAY IN THE U.S.A.:
Actually got in bed at 12:30 am with a 5:30 am wakeup call. Showered and met Iris downstairs to have breakfast at 6:30 am. Some of the guys from Steppenwolf were already down there. We loaded up the vans and left for the airport on time. I sat in the back and evidently, there were NO shocks at all on the vehicle. There was road construction and about every 5 seconds we hit a bump in the road that lifted us off the seats. I was praying that would end before I threw up and I got my wish. We hit Monday morning traffic into downtown Zurich. Then I started worrying about getting there on time! Glad we left early.
As I mentioned, transportation was a “challenge” all week long. This driver evidently didn’t know how to drive a stick shift and forgot to use the clutch. He would throw us forward into the windshield every time he started back up from a traffic light. Once traffic opened up, so did the driver and when a small car cut right in front of us, the slammed on the brakes and jerked the vehicle to the side of the road. We were all thrown forward into the seat in front of us. In unison, we all buckled our seat belts!
At last we arrived at the airport. I got my bags checked with United in Terminal 1 and then walked down to Terminal 2 to say goodbye and make sure they had not encountered any problems. All was good and they didn’t have a long line to get checked in. Hopefully the toilets won’t go out on the plane on the flight back for them. Still can’t believe that happened to them.
I did a lot of walking in the little village of Lenzberg (still bummed I didn’t get to see the Castle) and every time I ventured out, someone would stop their car and ask me directions. I had to say that I speak English and then they drive away. I told Iris I must look “Swiss” and she said that I do start looking very European after I’ve been here a few days. Probably because I go buy all the cool European clothes and wear them – some things I wouldn’t dare wear in Nashville!
Had a couple of hours to kill in the Lounge before leaving for Dulles. Hope all the flights are on time because I am ready to hold the babies! I got my seat changed last night so that I don’t have to “fly backwards” today. 🙂
There was “moderate turbulence” the entire flight. Don’t know why because there wasn’t “weather” anywhere. We landed at Dulles about 30 minutes early and I had time to go to the Lounge and answer a few emails. The flight to Nashville was late leaving because they were waiting for the pilot. He finally came “strolling” (seriously!) up to the gate about 30 minutes late. Nice, huh.
I took a taxi from the airport and was so excited to see the twins. I knew something was wrong the minute I walked in….they didn’t run to me or seem excited to see me. I picked Zac up and he was burning up with fever. His Dad has been keeping them all weekend and evidently hadn’t noticed. Zoe was very quiet and subdued, too. After Zac took his Tylenol, he just sat in my lap for an hour. I’m getting a cold, too, so don’t feel great. AND, someone has hacked my computer. Sent an email out for Viagra to everyone in my address book, HUNDREDS of people. Some welcome home, huh?