Going to Japan for the Country Sunshine Festival.  This is Charlie Nagatani’s 50th year singing country music and Malibu Storm will be performing at the concert.  There are 3 artists – two sisters (identical twins) and one brother – and they all fly roundtrip LAX.  I found them a sound engineer who is a dear friend that I have worked with for years on tours for the troops.  He is flying with them to assist since they have never been out of the country.  I got the easy gig – just me and two musicians on this flight.

Feeling a little stressed because I’m in Japan just for the weekend (on the ground 2 days and in the air 3 days).  Then I fly home for ONE day and have to go on tour with Charlie Daniels to Southwest Asia for our troops and stop in Germany on the way home with Richard Marx for a Welcome Home Concert for some of the troops who spent the last year in Iraq.  Won’t be back home until April 17th!

Was trying to get packed last night and finish up “business” and managed to give myself a migraine….my second one in two days.  Didn’t get to go to bed until 3 am and had to get up at 4:30 am.  Ouch!  Also managed to give myself another migraine right after I woke up.  Had my regular guy drive me to the airport in his taxi and all the way over he was talking about the passenger who had just gotten out and left his cell phone.  He was trying to reach him to give it back.  I got checked in at the airport and reached down to use my new IPAQ (like a Blackberry) that I had clipped to the waistband of my pants.  Guess what….holder was EMPTY!   I panicked because I don’t have any telephone numbers other than what is in the phone.  Called my daughter, who called Penny at home and she went it and found it on her desk where I had left it.  Brought it to me before the flight departed, thank goodness.

Went to the coffee shop to get a latte to wake me up and, of course, the machine was broken!  So, I went to the restaurant and bought a container of yogurt to eat on the flight.  They gave me a spoon and napkins and I stopped by the ladies restroom — only it was closed for cleaning.    Got on the flight and pulled out the yogurt….but the spoon was GONE!  Asked the flight attendant for one but we were on one of those tiny commuter jets and he didn’t have one.  All he had was a coffee stirrer which he offered me…I gave him the yogurt and told him to throw it away.

Landed in Chicago and had less than an hour layover.  I’m wondering if I’m “jinxed”. Or, I could look at it as all the problems are now out of the way and it will be a great trip!

Looks like I’m jinxed.   The guitar player was carrying on his guitar and the hook for the strap broke.

At least it was an easy flight over and I had an empty seat beside me.  I slept a LOT (wonder why?) and felt good when we landed.  However, our drummer was paged before he ever got off the plane.  They told him his bag was missing.  I can’t believe they knew it before we ever landed in Osaka.  We filled out all the paperwork and they told him he would have it Sunday morning when he departed!  As you can imagine, that didn’t fly with me.  I told them everyone he owned was in that bag and he had a show to perform on Saturday.  They finally agreed to get it to him by Friday night.  Then they offered him 6,000 Yen to purchase clothes and toiletries.  I told them he had a meeting with the Mayor on Friday and needed more money so they gave him 1,000 Yen.

We met the LAX group in Osaka although they were about an hour late landing.  Then we flew the one hour flight from Osaka to Fukuoka and had 1 ½ hour bus ride to the hotel.  It was 12:30 am by the time I got to my room and found I had over 200 emails that demanded attention.   So I stayed up all night answering these.  I always carry a little printer with me and had just had it replaced because it had broken after the last trip. Plugged it in and of course – it didn’t work again.  Same problem as the old one.  My luck is still holding.

Never went to bed and didn’t have time to jog.  Just showered and we headed out.  First stop was the Suizenji Park for sightseeing.  Had a real treat there because there was a ceremony taking place in the shrine.  Then we went to lunch at a traditional Japanese restaurant and from there, to the Coca Cola plant where we were welcomed and given flowers and gifts.  Did not get to take the tour of the plant this year and went straight to the Kumamoto Castle for more sightseeing.  Ended the afternoon with a visit to the Mayor of Kumamoto.  Everyone had about an hour to “rest” except I had to go buy a printer.  All the instructions were in Japanese, so that was a challenge.  But I now have it up and running.

Some of us went to a sushi bar for dinner and the others went with Tim (one of our interpreters for raw horse and other such stuff.  Then it was Charlie’s nightclub for a small jam session and back to the hotel to answer email.  This is the area that has had so many earthquakes in the past two weeks and as I was sitting at the computer, I felt the building begin to sway.  I thought I was imagining it but when I look over at my floor lamp, the chain was swaying back and forth.

Hope to get a few hours sleep tonight AND a long jog in tomorrow morning.


Got 4 hours sleep (finally!) and got in my 5 mile run. Weather is so perfect.  But, it’s supposed to be Cherry Blossom Time here and there are only a few trees in bloom.  Kumamoto has had a long winter, just like Nashville.  There is a tradition here during Cherry Blossom Time.  The citizens take plastic tarps and blankets and put them out on the grounds around the castle.  Then after work, they “party” all weekend – eating, drinking, talking, and signing.  Some of them stay all night long.  Yesterday, we saw one tarp with a man sitting on it in his business suit.  His entire “job” that day was to sit there and save the place for the party that night.  All in a day’s work.

Malibu Storm went to Charlie’s nightclub and rehearsed for a couple of hours then we all went and had “garlic noodles” for lunch.  It’s okay as long as EVERYONE eats garlic.  They were delicious.  Then it was time to go to the venue for sound check.

Sound check ran pretty smoothly except for the constant interruption of the video crew.  Artist signed autographs for an hour and then did a great show for the PACKED theatre!  This event is really to celebrate Charlie’s 50th Anniversary of singing country music.  As usual, everything ran on time to the MINUTE.  Charlie blew me away with his new “show”.  He added a backdrop and these “stumps” that he and his band sat in semi-darkness.   He sang several cowboy songs and it was AWESOME.  Then, he did a COSTUME CHANGE.  It was a great show.

When dressing for the show today, I noticed that I am covered with bruises.  Looks like spousal abuse, only I don’t have a spouse.  A couple of weeks ago, I had some carpet replaced with laminate in my upstairs office.  The workmen had laid the laminate inside my walk-in attic and I was, of course, in the attic trying to “work”.  When I started to step out of the attic, I stepped on top of the laminate.  It was like stepping on a snowboard at the top of a mountain.  I went down and was jet-propelled right out the attic door.  Clipped my shoulder and leg on the outbound.  Landed right at the feet of one of the workman.  The look on his face was priceless as I’m sure was mine!

We went to my favorite Italian restaurant after the show.  The mushroom soup there is to die for.  It’s almost 2 am and I have to get in bed.  At least we don’t depart the hotel until noon tomorrow.  It’s been a 4:30 am departure the last couple of trips.


Well, I started thinking that it just didn’t seem “right” that we could leave the hotel so late. And, of course, the itinerary was wrong!  We should have been prepared to depart at 10:30 am.  I discovered this at 3 AM, so I put notes under everyone’s doors and knew I would have to call them by 9 am the next morning.  So much for getting any sleep before jogging.  Managed to sleep 3 hours and then ran my 5 miles.  Was really looking forward to running 10 miles to prepare for the half Marathon at the end of April.  Looking less and less like I’ll be able to run it now.

No problems getting from Kumamoto to Fukuoka on time except we drove throughout a really heavy rainstorm.  Concerned me because I don’t like to fly when the weather is good.  No problems checking in except that the LAX passengers are going to have to pick up all their luggage in Osaka and re-check it.  Nashville passengers got to check all the way through.  Went for one last meal of great sushi.

Now, here’s the TOPPER of the entire trip:

Our flight from Fukuoka to Osaka on All Nippon Airlines got struck by lightning today in flight!  I already had my eyes closed, gripped onto the armrest, and praying because we were being thrown all over the sky.  I didn’t see the lightning strike because my eyes were closed BUT the artists saw it.  They thought an engine had exploded and we were going down.  I can’t tell you what it took to get me on the 12 hour flight from Osaka to Chicago.  I thought I just might live in Japan!

The flight attendant came on the intercom and said:  “Our ailclaft has just been hit by rightning.  There is no damage to the ailclaft and we wirr continue our fright as schedured!”  For once, reversing those “r’s” and “l’s” was right…it was definitely a FRIGHT and not a FLIGHT.
When I got off the plane, I immediately ran to the bar – the massage bar, that is.    We had a long layover in Osaka and time for me to try and calm down.  Got on the flight and immediately upon takeoff, the pilots told the flight attendants that they had to sit down and not serve any thing.  Turbulence lasted for over two hours.

All our luggage made it to Chicago.  Since I have to fly again on Tuesday morning, I was convinced mine would be lost.

The flight out of Chicago was LATE leaving, so I didn’t get home until midnight.  The travel part of this trip was definitely JINXED.

At least all the luggage made it back.  Can’t wait to get on another plane on Tuesday am!