FRIDAY, AUGUST 15TH, 2008:
Only home for 3 days and had to leave again today. Traveling to Chihuahua, Mexico with the Honky Tonk Tailgate Party (HTTP) and a film crew from GAC. The HTTP consists of Mark Wills, Ray Scott and Trent Willmon plus their musicians and crew. Buddy Jewell is not on this tour. Storme Warren and Ryan Silver are here from GAC.
I met Ray, Trent, and 3 of the musicians and the GAC crew at the airport for our flight to Chihuahua via DFW. Check in was smooth except that the agent kept insisting that we had to use the computer kiosk to check in and it kept rejecting our information. She finally checked everyone in and we went to the gate.
Our flight from Nashvile to DFW was delayed by 50 minutes and since we only had a 55 minute connection time at DFW, I knew we were in trouble. There were no other airlines with seats available to get us to Chihuahua except Air Mexicana which had a connection through Mexico City. American thought that our connecting flight might have also been delayed because of weather.
We finally departed over an hour late and had quite a bit of turbulence the entire flight. Landed at DFW and they told us our flight to Chihuahua was leaving at 1:09 pm. It was 1:01 pm when we landed so we sprinted for the gate. They did hold the plane for us and everyone made it on board. It was one of those tiny little jets with one seat on one side and two seats on the other side – my favorite, of course. NOT!
The flight actually wasn’t too bad and not nearly as turbulent as I had anticipated. We landed about two hours late and our promoter was there to pick us up. Got checked into the hotel and went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch — at 6 pm our time. Everyone was starving by that time! It was the same restaurant that we went to last year and is excellent. I had chicken fajitas and most of the guys had a steak. Two of the musicians decided to stay at the hotel and eat because they don’t like Mexican food. Evidently, they did not have a good dining experience at the hotel restaurant.
I had a phone call from my office saying the American Airlines Flight that Mark and the other musicians were on had problem. Evidently something was “burning” and the cockpit filled with smoke as they were taxiing. Fortunately it happened before they took off. They had a long connection in Dallas so they started trying to find other routing into Chihuahua. American told them that they were going to find them another airplane to DFW and I thought, “Yeah, I’ve heard that before!” But, strangely enough, there was a plane at the next gate that was bound for New York but all the flights into New York were cancelled due to weather. So Mark and his guys landed in Dallas with just enough time to make their connection.
The internet was not working when we checked in but the hotel had someone working on the problem. By the time we returned, they had it up and running. I stopped and bought two huge bottles of water at a cost of $1.00 per bottle! Gasoline is about U.S. $1.43 per gallon here. Unbelievable.
We had a couple of hours down time, so I answered emails and returned phone calls. Then we went to a reception for the PBR held at the Governor’s Palace. It was a beautiful building and packed with PBR contestants and supporters. Lots of boots, jeans, and cowboy hats everywhere. I also met the Mayor and his wife and staff. Really nice guy and I hope he can attend tomorrow night’s concert. We are trying to get Chihuahua sanctioned as a “Sister City” of Nashville. This festival is sponsored by the City of Chihuahua and is a first class event. I met our contact – Catherine – with the PBR and she’s going to get us into the event tomorrow so that GAC can film. They introduced most of the riders and Brazil got the biggest applause. We stayed for about an hour and then went back to the hotel. Mark Wills and the other musicians had arrived on the later flight from Nashville.
Several of the guys went over to Armando’s night club (Our promoter) to hear some local bands that were performing. I found Mark and a couple of the musicians in the hotel restaurant and talked with them for a while.
Back in my room answering email and hopefully going to bed very soon. Tomorrow is a press conference, Radio station interview, visit with the PBR, and the concert. We fly home on Sunday.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 17TH:
Went to the “Health Club” which is really just a couple of treadmills and one cross trainer. The “nice” treadmill didn’t work, so I used the cross trainer. No one else was in there, so it was a nice workout. There was a TV and I found an English speaking channel with “Friends” on it to take my mind off the exercise since I forgot to bring my IPOD. I swear it’s easier for me to pack for two months than to pack for 2 days. When it’s two months, you just pack everything you own. J
Went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Tried to get an egg white omelet but the language barrier presented some difficulties. I have decided to learn Spanish! My little bit of Japanese isn’t very helpful in my travels.
Went back to the room for a shower and realized I also forgot my shampoo and conditioner. So, I was forced to use the “hotel brand” which can’t be good for the hair. But, better than nothing.
First thing on the agenda today is lunch, followed by a couple of hours of “free” time. Then we have a press conference, sound check, visit with the PBR event, radio interview, meet and greet and performance! Should finish and be back in the room by around 2 or 3 am.
Mark called before we departed for lunch and his shampoo or something had come open in his suitcase and gotten all over his clothes. I talked to the front desk and housekeeping agreed to launder them and return them to him today.
We left for the restaurant pretty much on time and again had a great meal. Imagine that? They have fantastic Mexican food here in Mexico. J This time it was a buffet. The waitress also brought around apples that had been dipped in chili. I think that was the best part of the meal for me.
Took the musicians and crew to the stage to load in and the artists back to the hotel to rest before the press conference. GAC went “sightseeing” to get some shots of Chihuahua.
Press Conference started late as usual but there was a good turnout – local TV, major newspaper, radio station and internet sites. I had to sit up on the stage on the “panel” with Mark, Trent, Ray, Armando and the other festival VIPs. I HATE doing that. And, of course, the very first person who had to speak was me. Anyway, I got through it but not without a lot of nerves! They had spelled Ray’s name as Ryan but he was a good sport about it.
They took questions from the audience afterwards and then GAC did their one-on-one interviews the Chihuahua VIP’s. Mark, Trent, and Ray did not get to sound check as a thunderstorm complete with lightning straight to the ground rolled in just as we were ready to begin. GAC did interviews with each of the artists and then we headed back to the hotel for some “down time”, dinner, and then off to the radio station. GAC will go over to film some of the PBR right after dinner.
We went to Armando’s radio station and each artist did on-air interviews. Then back to the hotel for a few minutes and off to the show. But it there was a steady rain falling and I didn’t think we would be able to do the show. The Production Manager did not want us to use the stage. We waited about 30 minutes and then told him that he should let us perform and put the “opening act” on after us. There was no one there for the Meet and Greet and I was worried that there wouldn’t be an audience. But, as soon as the guys started playing the music, the fans came out and filled the parking lot. They did a really great show and the audience loved them. It finally quit raining about halfway through the show. All three guys go on stage together at the end of the show and sing together. We got out of there by 1 am and I’m going to bed very soon.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 17TH:
Since we aren’t leaving until noon, I had time to work out again….rare for me especially on a Sunday. Had to go in search of Mark’s laundry because even though they “rushed” it through for him yesterday, he never got his clothes! They had already told me that “they didn’t know HOW much it was going to cost” and visions of my $500 laundry bill in Sweden flashed before my eyes. I know that when they have to do a “rush”, they usually charge 100% more than the normal price. I was all ready to do battle with the front desk because they didn’t deliver the laundry to him yesterday which was the whole reason we had the “rush” job. I was going to make a case for not paying for a “rush”. Then they told me that the total cost was $8!
He was wearing a white t-shirt at lunch yesterday and managed to get hot sauce on the front of it. No problem. I always carry “Tide To Go” pens with me. Only I guess this one had too many “flights” in Europe because it was completely dry. We stopped a couple of times trying to find something similar and he finally found a little bottle of Oxyclean. Then at dinner he got something on another shirt and finally backstage at the show, had another accident with that shirt. Was pretty humorous by that time. At least we all thought so. J
Our promoter met us with three vans and a truck. The truck was a flatbed with the “cage” around the bed. He jokingly said that it was our transportation to the airport. Storme immediately picked up on that and wanted to get a shot of Mark, Trent, and Ray riding in the back with the luggage and guitars as our “departure” to Mexico. Unfortunately, his camera guy had already packed up the camera and the battery was dead in the small handheld.
Chihuahua is a very small airport. There are only 5 gates and NONE of those have jetways. But, it certainly makes check-in fast and easy. A couple of the guys had lost the customs form that was in their passport. They were told that if they ever tried to enter Mexico again, there would be a problem since the records would show them as having entered Mexico but never having left. Hopefully they will find it in their luggage when they get home.
Flight left on time and there wasn’t a lot of turbulence. I sat across from Storme and we had a chance to talk the entire flight. He told me about a flight he was on from the Islands to Miami that had to divert to Puerto Rico. It’s amazing that they survived and I am astonished that he will still fly anywhere. Not sure I would ever fly again if I experienced what he went through.
All the Honky Tonk Tailgate Party boys got off in Dallas as they have a performance tomorrow and were going to bus to it. Storme, Ryan and I hung out in the Crown Room until time to fly to Nashville. I was getting a cup of coffee and remarked to an older gentleman how good it was. He agreed and then he said, “I’m going to tell you something that I know you hear a hundred times a day. You are a very beautiful woman”. I recovered enough to thank him and assure him that I do not hear it 100 times a day and not even 100 times a year! He definitely made an impression on me.
I was in the last row of first class and there was a “flurry” of blonde hair and two girls sat across from me. I glanced up and thought one of them looked familiar but didn’t really pay attention. When we landed, Storme asked me if I enjoyed my flight with “Jessica”. I had no idea what he was talking about until he informed me that it was Jessica Simpson sitting across from me. Now I wish I had paid more attention since I would have thanked her for her entertainment tours for the troops.
So, another very successful tour. I’ve worked with Mark and traveled the world with him but it was good for me to get to know Trent and Ray before we head to Iraq next month. They are all such wonderful guys and I’m looking forward to our tour for the military. They are all so excited, that it’s sure to be a fantastic visit with our troops. All his musicians and crew are great as well and I wish we were taking the entire band.
I still can’t believe that I am home for FOUR WEEKS. (I’m knocking on wood as I type this). Of course, I’ll make up for it after that – Iraq in September, Switzerland, Japan and Iraq in October, North Carolina and Iraq in November, and Texas, Kosovo and Iraq in December.