Wednesday, August 15th:
Today I depart Nashville to meet up with Mark Chesnutt and his manager, Joe Ladd, in Houston; then we all travel together to El Paso where we will meet up with Mark’s band & crew. Once in El Paso, we will all travel together by bus to Chihuahua, Mexico which is about a 4 ½ hour drive. I was curious to see how “crossing the border into Mexico” would be. Surprisingly there were absolutely NO problems. We didn’t even get off the bus or show our passports. On the drive to Chihuahua, Mark realized that he had left his cowboy boots on the tour bus and all he had with him was flip-flops, which he then became “Mark Chesney”. J We left El Paso about 3:30 pm and didn’t actually make it to Chihuahua until about 9PM. We made a couple of “pit stops” along the way, once to get some much needed BEER, another to get some “real” Mexican burritos and again to meet Alejandro, who is the President of the Festival. We had passed him on the road, as he was headed from his ranch to Chihuahua for the Festival Press Conference. Got to the hotel, checked in, freshened up and we headed to Armando’s club, La Barra, for the press conference. The club was closed to the public while the press conference was going on, which was to last about 30 minutes. After the press, they opened the doors to the public. Everyone was having a really great time. I think we finally left the club about 2AM! J Mark & his band was enjoying themselves so much that they even got up on stage and performed 3-4 songs.
Thursday, August 16th:
Up about 7:30 AM, went down for breakfast and had a really great omelet, then stopped by the business office and checked emails. We all headed over to the venue for load in at 10AM, which ended up taking over 3 hours. I have to say that I was immediately impressed with the venue. It is a huge stage built in a park in the middle of town. After sound check we all went to a great Mexican restaurant for a free lunch thanks to a sponsor. (Thank you!) The food was great and we all really enjoyed ourselves. Went back to the hotel to drop off the band and then headed out with Mark to find some boots. Went to 2 different shops before we finally found ones he liked. In Mexico, the “square toe” is very popular and Mark prefers the “round toe”. We headed out to the show about 7PM. When we got to the venue, the place was packed. There were people on the streets looking down into the park at the huge crowds. The press reported there were approximately 15,000 in attendance. Mark did a great show and the crowd really enjoyed his show. After the show we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and loaded up the bus back to El Paso.
Friday, August 17th:
I sat and talked to Armando, the buyer, until about 2AM. He is such a sweetheart and very humorous. He has never met Judy and acts as though he is terrified of her; afraid that she will bring her machine gun next week when she comes down with Tracy Byrd. J You know, the one she is holding in a picture on our website. LOL Finally arrived at the “border” at 5AM. We sat in traffic for an hour. I was really surprised to see how many people actually travel to Texas EVERY day from Mexico for work, and kids walking across the border to go to school. Once we got TO the border, everyone had to get off the bus, hand carry their personal luggage across the border, send it through the x-ray at security and then get back on the bus. Was much more difficult to get back IN to the US than it was to get IN to Mexico. My only suggestion would be that the Customs office set up an area for U.S. Passports the way that the airports do when you go through Customs when you enter a different country. This would have saved us an extra 45 minutes of waiting on line. Got back to Mark’s tour bus, transferred the gear and said our good-byes. I’ll see these guys again in a couple of months as we will all be traveling to Japan together. J These guys were a lot of fun, put on a great show and the city of Chihuahua was very happy too. I ended up catching an earlier flight out of El Paso to Houston, was on stand-by for Houston to Nashville, and made it. I got home 2 hours early. YEAH!!!