PHOTOS by JUDY
PHOTOS – by PENNY
TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25-26, 2013:
Feels very “strange” to be writing a “road report” again. My last “business trip” was to Afghanistan with Craig Morgan in March. Then in April, I took Zac and Zoe on a Disney Cruise that was totally awesome. If you have children or grandchildren, definitely consider the Disney Cruise Line. I’ve been on lots of different cruise ships and this one was by far the nicest, biggest stateroom, best price, best food, incredible staff, and fantastic activities. We only did the 3 day cruise and the kids never wanted to get off the ship when we docked. Will take them again next year, I hope. And, after having been home with them for months, it was really, really hard to leave them for 3 weeks this time.
Anyway, no more “sales pitch”.
Today, I left with the Bellamy Brothers for 3 weeks in Europe. Our first stop is Interlaken, Switzerland (my second home) for the 20th Anniversary of the Trucker and Country Festival. Besides the Bellamy Brothers, I have Pam Tillis, Pat Green and Carlene Carter performing. We are also “celebrating” the launch of an incredible project the Bellamys did for Universal Switzerland. They produced and sang on a “duet” cd with lots of U.S. and Swiss artists. Many of those artists will be appearing on the festival on Friday and Saturday night. It’s going to be a busy – but great – weekend.
Easy check in at the airport this morning. But, I got a call from Penny saying Carlene had missed her flight out of LAX. Evidently, she thought her flight departed at 9 am and it actually departed at 6:30 am. There wasn’t another flight available today, so they are departing Wednesday and arriving Thursday. At least her first commitment isn’t until Thursday evening.
Our flight left on time and landed Atlanta on time. We had about a 3 hour layover so we went to a pretty unique restaurant and ate lunch. I had sushi and a great salad. Then went into the Delta Lounge to download my emails. Slowest internet in history!
I was at the gate at the time set for boarding but Delta announced that the plane had arrived late from Germany and they were still cleaning it. An hour later, they were still cleaning it. Finally boarded and it was a packed flight. I watched “Safe Haven” (a Nicholas Sparks book/movie) and it was okay but predictable. Slept for about 2 hours – off and on. An older man and his wife were sitting across from me. He was rather loud and obnoxious when he was awake. He fell asleep and about every 30 minutes, he would scream “Whattttt???” and flail his arms in the air. Everyone around him would jump and stare at him. His wife slept through it all….as did he!
All our luggage and bags arrived but the Bellamys’ friends were about a half hour late landed. We waited for them on our nice tour bus and then headed to Interlaken. We did make a great “pit stop” at our favorite restaurant “Marche’” right after leaving the airport. I had a great “Brat” and salad. We arrived at the hotel at around 2 pm and Jrene and Iris met us. All our keys were ready and check in was quick.
Threw my bags into the room and then Susan and I walked over the train station to change money and Migros to buy water. She came back and slept while I worked, worked, worked.
Last year I learned about this wireless device that you can rent and it works all over Europe. It’s much less expensive than paying for internet at each hotel, too. I’ve used it several times and loved it. I ordered one for this trip and it was supposed to be delivered on June 21st. It wasn’t. I called all weekend but could never get anyone to return my call. I got on instant chat on Monday and was assured that it would be send via FEDEX to my first hotel and would be waiting for me when I arrived on Wednesday. It wasn’t! I got an email saying they were “disputing my FEDEX delivery” and needed a different hotel address. I told them the address I gave them was correct and the hotel doesn’t have a “different” address! I was on instant chat with them for 4 hours today and I still don’t have an answer to when – if ever – I’ll receive the device!
Took a quick shower and then the Bellamys (Howard, David, Susan, Jesse, and Noah), Kristi (Jesse’s girlfriend), Russell and Dawn (Bellamy’s friends), Iris and I went to dinner at a wonderful Italian Restaurant. It is owned by Iris’s former boyfriend. I didn’t want to go there because he broke her heart but she’s fine with it now, so I sucked it up, too. Howard had fallen asleep and didn’t make it down at 7 pm so we told him to text us and we would send a taxi. We didn’t realize we had no cell phone service in the restaurant until about an hour later. We sent a taxi for him. J
We had an amazing meal! Iris says it’s the best restaurant in Interlaken and I have to agree! Tomato mozzarella salad, grilled chicken on risotto, and dessert which I had SWORN I was not going to eat….but did. It was crème brulee – my absolute favorite dessert in the world. Ah well…gotta go running tomorrow!!!
Back at the hotel and finishing up for the night. Carlene is now on the same flight with Penny out of JFK and will arrive a few minutes before Carlene’s band and Pat Green’s bands tomorrow. I have “rehearsal” all day with the Bellamys and the Swiss Artists and then a huge “sponsor party” with everyone tomorrow night.
THURSDAY, JUNE 27TH – REHEARSAL DAY:
Not off to a great start today….got 4 hours sleep and got up early to “work out” in my room. I have a small tear in the ligament inside my rotator cuff and am trying to “heal” it with therapy. But that takes dedication to do the exercises religiously every day! Pretty sure this happened because of the heavy backpack I carry around on my trips. I purchased a rolling backpack and a fanny pack for this trip….nothing on my shoulder if possible.
The internet went out while I was exercising. I tried everything including calling Swisscom, but no luck. Finally went to breakfast and tried again when I returned. Nothing. Showered and called the front desk to see what had happened. They knew about the problem but had no idea when it would be fixed. Of course, I’ve heard NOTHING from TEP wireless about the device I supposedly rented.
Wireless finally came back up at about 9:00 am. Wonder how long it will last? L
I forgot to mention that Jesse and Noah Bellamy are performing at the festival, too. I just always “lump” them into the Bellamy category since they are David’s sons. But they are amazing musicians and were a huge part of the Swiss Duet Project. Sorry, guys!
Penny and Carlene landed an hour early and had to wait for the musicians to arrive from the U.S. Think they waited about an hour. Everyone should be at the hotel at about the time I have to leave for the venue.
Got all the “babies” into the hotels and all is good. I walked next door to the Swisscom shop and rented a wireless. It cost me 35 CHF for 5 days! I was paying 25 CHF for 24 hours at the hotel. And it works GREAT!
Rehearsal was awesome. The musicians were running late because of issues with some of the equipment provided. But once they got that worked out, things went quickly. Peter and Nina Reber sang their duet first using the Bellamy’s musicians. Then Nina left to go to the rehearsal studio to sing with Jesse and Noah. Peter sang “Bahama Mama” with The Bellamys and then Kristin Ash sang “Delta Dawn”. Our rock star – Gola – came riding into the ten on his motorcycle. J He sang, “The Rock”, “Achy Breaky Heart”, and “Guilty of the Crime” with the Bellamys. Brought back so many wonderful memories of our 2010 tour together. Time for another one of those!!!
We finished over an hour early, too. Have time for a quick shower and then off to the Sponsor Party tonight.
Sponsor Party was awesome. All the Swiss artists were there and all the major press. A group from Nashville called “High South” was the acoustic entertainment at the Party. One of the members is married to my dear friend Paige at the Palm. The audience loved them so they should do great over here.
Since it was the 20th Anniversary, there were a lot of awards and presentations. I had gotten a certificate from the CMA and had it made into a plaque for the Bellamys to give to Iris and Lorenz. We stayed until around 11 pm and then left for the hotel. It was FREEZING when we went outside. I was starving because I couldn’t eat the food at the party. The chicken and pork weren’t fully cooked so I didn’t eat it. Penny and I decided to walk to the only restaurant that was still open for something “light”. It had started raining and was even colder! We ordered what we thought was a grilled cheese sandwich. Instead it was a plate of melted cheese with ham and pineapple! Howard sent me a text just as we were leaving. We took him back a tomato mozzarella salad.
Pam Tillis and her husband Matt’s flight was delayed out of Nashville so they missed their connection in Atlanta. They were supposed to arrive at 8:30 am and now won’t arrive until 1:30 pm. She probably won’t get to the hotel until around 4:30 and has a press conference to attend at 6:00 pm and a radio interview after that. She is going to be really tired.
I’m having Penny cover the sound checks for Carlene and Pat tomorrow because I have a meeting with Albi my promoter from Zurich and have to meet Pat Green at the train station. Going to be a really busy day and night. It’s after 2 am now, so going to bed soon.
FRIDAY, JUNE 29TH, – FIRST PERFORMANCES IN INTERLAKEN:
Just getting around to writing this road report and it’s Saturday morning. What a busy day! Can’t even remember everything that happened. Started the day with my new wireless not working! The device wouldn’t even turn on. Fortunately, Swisscom is next door to the hotel and they open at 8:30 am. Took it in and they plugged it into something and got it working again. I asked if it was something I did that caused the problem and they said, “No, it was just a software glitch”. If it’s going to happen, it will happen to me!
I went to breakfast and Howard was there so I joined him for food and chat. Bellamys have a relatively easy day with no commitments until time for the press conference. Penny was covering sound checks with Carlene and Pat Green for me while I stressed out about getting Pam’s band here and finding out what time she and Matt would arrive. Everything seemed to still be on time with Matt and Pam not landing until 1:30 pm.
I got Pam’s band checked in the hotel and then walked out back to join Albi for coffee. Had a great meeting with him and it was nice to be able to sit and chat uninterrupted for a few minutes. We’re talking about artists for his event in Zurich next February/March. The Bellamys are already confirmed for it.
Walked down to Migros and got some fruit and water so I don’t have to eat a bowl of melted cheese at midnight ever again! Matt and Pam FINALLY made it in….26 hours with no sleep. And, she had barely had time to grab a quick lunch then dress for the press conference.
Press conference was nice and all the U.S. artists attended. I went with Pam to the radio station immediately afterwards for an interview. They talked to her for so long, I ended up leaving her there so I could meet Carlene and get her to the show. What a “trooper” she is to do all that press after no sleep for about 30 hours now! I missed Pat’s show because I was busy with Pam but Penny saw it and said it was great.
Got Carlene on stage and then I walked over to the VIP Room and talked with Marcel and his staff from Gstaad, Albi from Zurich and Helena and Martin Konzett from Grindelwald. Went back and saw the end of Carlene’s show. The crowd loved her. She did several encores and then signed autographs until 2:30 am. I actually left her there with her husband because I had to get up at 6 am today. I think I’m getting too old to run on 3 or 4 hours sleep a night. Plus, I think I’m getting Zac and Zoe’s cold!
It was a great night at the festival but a very chilly one. The temperature really dropped and of course, I packed for warm weather. It is supposed to rain all day and evening on Saturday which means it will be even colder. I may have to go “fleece” shopping. L
I was much too tired to do anything other than go to bed when I finally got back to the hotel. Made it in bed by 3 am….with that 6 am wakeup call!
SATURDAY, JUNE 29TH – SECOND DAY OF SHOWS:
Up at 6 am, showered and having breakfast by 7 am. Left for sound check at 8 am with Pam Tillis Band. Then rode back over at 9 am and picked up Pam. Their sound check went really well and they finished on time at 10:30 am.
Jesse and Noah sound checked with Nina and I had to leave them there and come back and print set lists for Bellamys. Bellamys go over for a full rehearsal with all the Swiss artists at 2:15 pm today.
Rode over for the “run through” of the show with the Swiss artists and everything went great. We finished early so I had about an hour to work once we got back to the hotel before going downstairs for dinner. The food at the restaurant is really not so great but the salad bar is. It’s a “set” menu so not much choice when it’s something you don’t eat. Gregg and a couple of Carlene’s guys were down there and Howard joined us. Howard opted for ONLY the salad bar and that was a good choice.
Rode over to the show with Jesse and Noah and once we arrived, we realized we had forgotten Norwood – who has to mix the show. He wasn’t in the lobby when it was time to leave and everyone just forgot he needed to go. Jrene called the hotel and he was still in his room. He had fallen asleep and set his phone to alarm. The phone fell between the beds and he never heard it. Rookie international traveler. J
I only got to see about 1 ½ songs of Jesse, Noah, and Nina but it sounded really good and the audience was into it. They are using Swiss musicians who are excellent. I think they are all session players!
Rode back to the hotel to pick up Howard and a couple of Carlene’s guys rode over with us. Jesse and Noah had finished by the time we got back. After Howard and David went on stage, I had to walk over to the office and the crowd outside where the vendors are located was much bigger than last night…..which was very strange. It has absolutely POURED rain all day long and was still raining. And cold! I had to go buy a long sleeve shirt because I packed all the wrong clothes.
Walked back and was sitting backstage with Susan. The Festtent holds about 4,500 people and I swear there were more like 5,500 crammed inside. Every time the Bellamys finished a song, the roar from the fans was deafening. I thought Gola must have gone on stage with them, it was so loud at one point. But it was all for them.
The “And Friends” part of the show was flawless and the audience loved it. Of course, Gola is the “favorite” because he’s such a huge rock star in Switzerland. The finale was “Let Your Love Flow” and it was the perfect way to end their concert with the Swiss artists. All the artists signed autographs for about 45 minutes.
Pam was on next and very apprehensive about following the Bellamys…and she should be. They are “Elvis” equivalent in Europe. She should not have been worried. The audience was “Pam fans” and sang along with her songs and no one left. She had her usual terrific show and felt much better when she came off the stage. She signed autographs for about half an hour and then we loaded up and went back to the hotel. They wanted me to go have drink with them, but I am “toast”. I just want to sleep for hours and hours. Will get up and jog tomorrow because the weather is supposed to be beautiful – sunny and high 70’s – FINALLY! We are going to Gola’s house tomorrow afternoon for a “bar-be-que”. We did this last year and it was so much fun….but raining pretty hard that day too. But this year, he has a new 4 week old little girl. I’m missing Zac and Zoe so much, he’d better keep a close eye on “Nikki” because she will fit in my travel bag! J
Iris and Lorenz should be very happy with this year’s performances. They work so hard and I hate it when they have “rain outs”! Jrene does a great job, too, with the logistics. So many people here working hard for a successful event!
Matt had reminded me that we have now worked together in some capacity for 20 years! Our first tour was overseas with the USO and it was a blast. We’ve been friends and worked together with many different people since then. He knocked on my door right after we got back to the hotel and said, “When you work with me for this long, you get the 20 year “pin”” and handed me a bag. The most BEAUTIFUL necklace and earrings from Swarovski were inside. Such a wonderful, thoughtful surprise. And, Pam has excellent taste when it comes to jewelry and clothes! 🙂
It’s 3 am and I am going to bed for those hours and hours of sleep now!
SUNDAY, JUNE 30TH – BARBEQUE AT GOLA’S:
Well, hours and hours of sleep turned into 6 ours. Was up at 9 am, had breakfast and went for a 5 mile run in absolutely beautiful weather. Ran on a really nice path down by the river. Ran as far as I could in one direction before it started up the mountain. Showered and went to the train station to buy by ticket for Gstaad tomorrow. When I was jogging this morning I passed “Blueberries” … a little café I found last year right by the hotel. I had forgotten what a great place it is to eat. They have wraps homemade tuna, chicken, egg salad, Panini, caprese salad and regular salad, every type of smoothie imaginable, fresh juice and the best “natural frozen yogurt” ever. I got a really small cup of yogurt since I won’t be here tomorrow to eat there.
Iris and Lorenz were able to take a short break from the festival and go with us to Gola’s. The barbeque at his home was wonderful. His mom and dad were there and had cooked everything but the meat – which was being grilled when we arrived. There were salads of every type and just about every kind of meat available, too. It was delicious. Gola’s wife Heidi was there of course and his 4 week old baby – Nikki – who looks exactly like him! There was another baby there as well that I thought at first was his but it was one of his friends. She was 4 months old with a head full of jet black hair. Held her for a long time. I went inside to get some water and heard Nikki crying. Picked her up and rocked her back to sleep. Helped a little with missing Zac and Zoe although it’s hard to remember when they were that tiny!
It was a great afternoon with Gola and the weather remained perfect. It’s supposed to be pretty again tomorrow, too, but rain again on Tuesday. We leave for Germany on Tuesday. Was back at the hotel by around 7 pm and got boarding passes printed for Susan, Jesse, Noah and Kristi. They leave for the airport at 5:30 am tomorrow with Pam’s band.
Got to “Facetime” with Zac and Zoe. They always want to see my hotel room and every where I’ve “been”. Because I have the little wireless device, I was able to walk around outside the hotel and show them things. They loved it!
Going to try and get in bed at a decent hour because I want to get up and see the others off. My train leaves at 9:10 am, too.
MONDAY, JULY 1ST – GSTAAD, SWTIZERLAND VISIT:
Got up and 4:45 am and met Jesse, Noah, Susan and Kristi and Pam Tillis’s group in the lobby for their departure. Everything ran smoothly except the hotel forgot to bring their “breakfast boxes”. We were able to retrieve them relatively quickly and everyone left only a few minutes late.
Susan brought me a beautiful necklace to my room last night from Jesse, Noah and Kristi. Again, total surprise and absolutely not something they needed to do. I am supposed to be thanking them for their great performance and patience with me!
I’ve been spraying this Zicam spray in my mouth because my allergies are killing me. Yesterday, I grabbed the spray bottle and squeezed off a couple of sprays before I realized it was my hair gel. So gross!
I had a really quick breakfast sitting with Wally and Jaye and then headed out to the train station – praying I wouldn’t get lost. Found the correct train and even made my “connection” without a glitch. Then when we arrived in Gstaad, I couldn’t get the door to open. Usually you just push a button, but this one had a handle and it would not budge. I went to the other door at the end of the car and it wouldn’t open either. Was afraid the train was going to leave and take me to the next station before I could get off. I finally asked a Japanese tour guide how to open it. J
Gstaad is very small and beautiful. I’ve never actually been in the village, just driven past it. I walked up to Marcel’s office and had a short meeting with Christa and then she took me to see the venue. It’s a beautiful venue and great acoustics. She dropped me at Marcel’s new 5 Star Hotel – Alpina – and he and his girlfriend and 8 month old son joined me for lunch. We had amazing sushi and I got to hold his son several times. J After lunch, he had the hotel staff gives me a “tour”. The suites have fireplaces in them and are HUGE. There is an amazing Spa with a full exercise room included. Unfortunately, we won’t be staying here in September as the hotel is fully booked for a wedding. But I saw the outside of the hotel where we will be staying and it’s beautiful, too.
I took the train back to Interlaken just in time to shower and meet Iris, Lorenz, David and Howard for dinner. Bill from Germany and his friend joined us as well. Today is Bill’s 50th birthday! We went to our “usual” fondue restaurant but Iris added Topplespeil (no idea how to spell it) to the menu tonight. As usual, it was fantastic food. They even brought out this amazing dessert for Bill’s birthday. So nice to just sit and relax with wonderful friends!
Back at the hotel at around 9 pm to pack and work. After midnight now and I have to get up at 4:30 am AGAIN. I know I will sleep on the 4 hour bus ride to Germany tomorrow!!!
It was such a great festival and so nice to work with such “easy” artists and fantastic promoters!
Wednesday, June 26 and Thursday, June 27
Today I leave for Switzerland and Italy. I will meet Carlene Carter and her husband, Joe, at JFK. She was supposed to fly out yesterday, but missed her flight due to some confusion with her travel agent. I really hope she can get her tickets refunded or something because she had to buy new tickets.
Had a short flight to Atlanta then to JFK. Met up with Joe and Carlene. Boarded our flight on time, was an uneventful flight. I slept about 3 hours. Movie selection was not much and I didn’t really have time to purchase a book in the airport. We landed an hour early, got our bags and waited for the other 2 bands to arrive. I was originally going to meet Carlene’s band and Pat Greens band in Zurich, but now Joe and Carlene will travel with us too. Our driver was waiting for us when we exited the baggage area and we waited while he went to get them bus. We had a 2 hour dive to Interlaken, dropped off Carlene and Joe at their hotel, then took everyone else to the other hotel. Judy and Iris were waiting for us with our passes , keys etc.
Judy left for rehearsals with the Belllamy’s as they are performing songs from their new “Bellamy & Friends” cd with some of the Swiss artists on Saturday night. I went to nap for about 2 hours, shower and get ready for the sponsor party. I walked over to Carlene’s hotel, about 2 blocks away to get her. Mikey and the other artists picked us up at 7, and went to the sponsors party. It started with a short intro / interview with the artists on the duet album, then dinner and a “show”. They had included some very interesting Swiss dancing and an acoustic performance by Highway South. We all went back to the hotel about 11 pm, Judy and I went to grab a bite to eat since we didn’t eat much at the dinner reception. I skyped back home with the kids and went to bed about 12:30.
Friday, June 28 – Show day in Interlaken
I guess I was afraid I would over sleep and woke up wide awake at 6 am. Showered, had a quick bite for breakfast and headed over to sound check with Carlene’s band. Everything was set up and ready when we got there, which was wonderful. I left to go pickup Carlene, brought her over for sound check. Florian, a Swiss artist that is doing one of his songs with Carlene on the duet album, came by and they rehearsed the song a few times for the show tonight. He is a really nice guy, and they sounded great together. Carlene finished her sound check right on time and we all headed back the hotel.
Pat’s band was leaving for sound check at 1:30, and when I went down stairs Brad said Pat had got on an earlier train from the Zurich airport and would be here at 1:51, 2:51. I went with Mikey to drop at sound check, Brad walked to meet Pat at the train station and Mike and I picked them up and took Pat to the hotel to get checked in and then we headed back to sound check. Sound check was easy, they even finished early. 🙂
Back to the hotel for a bit, walked to the store for a few things and it was time for the press conference. Pam Tillis’ flight was late leaving Nashville on Thursday so she did not arrive the hotel until after 4 pm today. She barely had time to get showed and dressed for the press conference at 5:45 pm. I am surprised she made it after flying all that way – what a trooper she is! We all went to the press conference – Howard, David, Jesse and Noah Bellamy, Carlene Carter, Pat Green and Pam Tillis. Back to the hotel for a bit and it was time for Pats band to go over to the show. I stayed and rode over with Pat, got there about 15 minutes before show time. I had never saw Pats show so I really didn’t know what to expect. Man, he has a rockin show, I really enjoyed it. He went out afterwards and signed autographs and met some fans. He and the band went back to,the hotel and I stayed to watch a little of Carlene’s show since I had never saw her show either. Again, she has a pretty rockin show too. She has a ton of energy on stage. Got to hang switch Susan Bellamy for a bit, really enjoyed that, too. 🙂
Back to the room, finished packing and got to bed about 1:30 am only to get up at 4 am.