SUNDAY, AUGUST 13TH:
Got our 3 hours of sleep. Thank goodness I took my shower before going to bed. Everyone else got up and only had freezing cold water to shower in. Never going to stay at this hotel again. Got the bus loaded but someone took the soft guitar case for the Bellamy’s lead guitar player last night at the show. They looked everywhere for it but never located it. He is going to try and carry it on wrapped in a towel. Boy is he unhappy, as he should be!
Made it to the airport and arrived right on time. Everyone got checked I and we had a few minutes to grab a cup of coffee before flying to Frankfurt. Then we had to split up. Bellamys flew to Spokane, Jesse and Noah back to Nashville, and I flew to Lyon, France.
I was already apprehensive about this festival because it’s one that I have never attended. Have booked talent here and was told that it was not very well-organized so thought I’d better come check it out for myself. I have Rick Trevino performing here on Monday.
I landed and collected my luggage but there wasn’t anyone waiting for me outside baggage claim. Someone named Armand was supposed to pick me up. I called the number I had for him but got voice mail. Then I called the promoter’s cell phone and was told to go outside terminal one and he would be waiting at gate 17. Well, “outside” was a metal fence! So, I waited in line to take the lift up to the 2nd floor. Went outside there but couldn’t find anyone. Went back inside and asked the INFO desk and they tried to send me to Terminal Two. Finally took the lift back down and went outside and started walking around the metal fence. About a quarter of a mile later, it ended and I saw some buses parked nearby. Started checking each bus and there was one with a sign on it for “Armand Limo Service”…thank goodness!
I had hoped to sit in the back so I could sleep on the 1 ½ hour drive but he insisted that I sit in the front. Now, he did not speak ONE word of English either so I knew it would be a very quiet drive. I was nodding off about 15 minutes after we departed when he ran off the side of the road. That definitely got my attention. I started watching him and he kept rubbing his face and fidgeting. He was falling asleep at the wheel! And since he didn’t understand any English, there was nothing I could do but watch him closely and yell if when he started nodding off. The trip seemed to take forever and the roads were something else. We went WAY into the countryside of France on little one lane roads that made hairpin turns up and down steep mountains with no guardrails on the sides. I kept praying that we would get behind a slow-moving car but when we did, he got right on the car’s bumper and flew around it at the first opportunity. I honestly did not expect to make it to the hotel without him crashing the car – either from falling asleep or from his reckless driving. When we finally arrived, my legs were shaking when I entered the hotel.
Rick’s tour manager was there and I told him what happened. He said there driver was just as reckless but at least he wasn’t falling asleep at the wheel. The hotel is “quaint”….good word for “it has NO amenities”. It is supposed to have wireless internet. Ha! It barely has a telephone in the room. Room is so tiny I can only open one suitcase at a time, It is “clean” but very, very old.
I had dinner with Rick and his guys and thank goodness they are easy to work with. They arrived yesterday and said they are enjoying the visit. The food was good but the waitresses spoke very little English.
I’m going to go running with Rick tomorrow. He went today and has found a “route” that we can run without getting killed by one of the kamikaze drivers on the little country roads!
MONDAY, AUGUST 14TH:
Strange night. Bed was so hard. Got up and went running – okay, jogging – with Rick. Had no idea there was so much difference in the altitude here. Plus we ran straight up a hill. I had to stop and walk part of it because I couldn’t breathe! We ran through the center of the village and there was a “market” taking place. Was so crowded we could barely get through it. But the other option was running on the main streets and it’s too dangerous. Seems everyone drives like my van driver yesterday.
Glad I came to see this festival because I now know what artists would and would not work here. Hardly anyone at the hotel speaks English and it is a challenge to get any information. Meals are a REAL challenge. They have a “set” menu but we can’t tell what it is.
My bathroom is tiny. There is a shower stall – of sorts. The doors slide open and I have turn sideways to get in it because the opening is so small. The shower is one of those wands and I broke the holder off when I tried to turn the wand so that it wouldn’t spray me in the face as I was getting in. Oh well, at least now it can’t fly off the holder and chase me around the shower.
We went over to the venue for sound check. Everyone is so nice here and try to accommodate all our requests. This festival is run entirely by volunteers. It is a project to promote the city of St. Agreve and country music. Most of the other performers are singer/songwriters from Nashville and Texas. One group flying in from Austin via Heathrow got stranded yesterday. They finally had to take the train in from Paris. They had no luggage and no instruments…just the clothes they have on, which happened to be shorts and t-shirts and it is very cold here. They arrived at 6 pm today and depart at 4 am tomorrow!!!
The event also has a rodeo taking place. The concert is in a tent. I wondered why it is held on a Monday but they said tomorrow is a bank holiday, so people will come out and party tonight.
We had a press conference – of sorts –this afternoon. I think more fans may have attended than media. Not sure exactly who was represented there.
Had dinner with the guys and not at all sure what I had but it was very “rich”. At least I had a great salad. Rick performs at 11 pm so it will be a late night and we have to depart early for the airport. I am SO glad I don’t fly back through Heathrow. Just hope Rick and his group don’t get stuck.
Rick Trevino had a great show. Not only does he have an amazing voice, but he is classically trained on the piano as well as plays guitar. All his backing musicians sing harmony. The promoter said it is the BEST entertainer they have ever had at their festival. He signed autographs for about an hour while we stood around and froze. I can’t believe how cold it is here.
Got back to the hotel and it is locked up tight. No one here except the guests. Had to climb up stairs on the side of the hotel to get in. And they turned off the telephones! Unbelievable. I was going to answer emails on my horrible dial-up connection but no luck. I don’t know what would have happened had there been an emergency phone call to or from the States. The lights in the hallways go out after about 5 seconds and you are left in pitch darkness. Not going to be sad to leave this hotel!
TUESDAY, AUGUST 15TH:
Everyone was in the lobby by 8:15 am but no bus. He didn’t arrive until 8:30 am, so it’s going to be pushing it to get to the airport on time for our flights. Rick’s group is really worried since they have to fly through Heathrow. This was a full-size bus, not the mini-bus like I came up in. But, he drove just as fast and crazy on the narrow little roads. At least he wasn’t falling asleep on the drive. It took us almost 2 hours to arrive at the airport and then he had to drop us off a long way from the check-in terminal. I was running to the ticket counter – well at first, I wasn’t. The luggage cart that I had to PAY for, had a big flat place on the front wheel. It bounced and made this loud thumping sound. I finally had to abandon it and search for another one. On the ride to the airport, I had checked out the NWA website on my Blackberry to make sure the only restrictions for the flight were no liquids and no gels. Then, when I checked in, the lady at the counter tried to tell me that I should go ahead and check my computer case and backpack because when I arrived in Amsterdam, they were going to make me check it. I told her I’d take my chances! Amazing how every country gets different information even though it is the same airline.
Flight departed on time and I arrived in Amsterdam in plenty of time to make my connection. The gate agent did not even question my carry-on bags. I feel “lost” because both of them are so light.
I had an empty seat beside me on the flight back to the U.S. which was nice. Managed to get some work done. We landed in Detroit and I got my cart to wait at baggage claim for my bags. This one guy kept edging closer and closer to my cart and he would pick up every other bag that came out. There is no way he could have been mistaking that many different size and color of bags for his own. I wanted to ask him if he was looking for one the “liked”! It always amazes me how people will push and shove their way around you to jockey for a position as close as possible to the conveyor belt. One lady tripped over my cart, not once – but 3 times. I was determined not to give up my “slot”. All my bags came in and I had time to go to the World Club and answer some emails before taking the flight to Nashville. It was SO good to be back in my home….except for the piles and piles of mail that was waiting for me in my office.
I actually get to stay home for 4 days before flying to DC for meetings. All in all, it was a GREAT trip and I’m sure when I get caught up on “home business”, I will feel like it was worth being away from home for the entire Summer!
Got in bed by 2 am but have to be downtown for a CMA international meeting by 9 am. (SIDE NOTE: My alarm went off the next morning but it was a radio instead of the little beep, beep, beep of the travel alarm that has been waking me up for the past 3 months. I was so disoriented! I got up and stood in the middle of my bedroom wondering where in the world I was! My first thought was, “I can’t find my suitcase”! Took me a while to figure out I was in my own home!)