SATURDAY, AUGUST 13TH:
Well, my WORST nightmare came true. The bus is NOT a sleeper. It has seats that recline about 2 inches. There was no way I was going to put them on that for an overnight trip to Germany. I tried to call the promoter but it was after midnight and I got voice mail. He doesn’t have a cell phone (red flag) and I finally reached the bus company. They aid the promoter NEVER requested a bus with bunks in it. I asked the bus driver how long it would take to drive to Kiel and he said about 4 hours. I told him that we would sleep at the hotel and get up at 9 am and drive to Kiel. He said, “no, I have to drop you off and go somewhere else to pick up another group tomorrow morning”. By this time, I was thinking that we had better forget about the date in Germany since I was very concerned about EVERYTHING. I tried to find fights directly into Amsterdam so we could just do directly to that show on Sunday. Even called the contact in Holland and woke her up to see if the bus which she had hired to pick us up in Germany and transport us to Holland could pick us up in Denmark instead. She was unable to reach the bus company that late. I KNOW her bus has bunks for the 6 hour trip on Saturday night. So, we had to make a decision because the driver was saying he had to go. I called the hotel in Kiel to make SURE we could check in at 6 or 7 am when we arrived and he confirmed that the rooms were ready for us. The bus driver did not speak ONE WORD of English. Our contract states that an interpreter must be provided for all travel and for the duration of our tour. The contract also states that we must have a sleeper bus with 12 bunks for travel over 4 hours and that we prefer to travel overnight for distances of that length.
So, we all got on the bus, with much complaining – as it should be. It meant sitting up all night and not getting any sleep, going to the gig and performing a show, then getting on a bus and traveling to Holland. We were told that the promoter’s son was going to meet us at the hotel and take all the equipment to the promoter’s office to lock it up and deliver it to the stage. However, since the buyer had defaulted on everything else in the contract, we definitely were not going to give him our equipment. We locked it up at the hotel instead. The trip only took THREE HOURS and had we known that, we would have insisted that we travel during the day of the show. But, the promoter had told me it was a 4 ½ hour drive. Another problem at check in, they only had 6 rooms for us and we needed 7. I insisted that we be given another room and I think the poor little desk clerk realized that if he wanted to keep all body parts intact that he had better honor my request.
I took a shower and tried to sleep for one hour. But, someone’s cell phone in the room next to me rang consistently for about 40 minutes! I started calling the promoter’s office number at 8 am and still got voice mail. I finally found a cell phone number for the production manager and called him. I told him we had a huge problem and that the promoter needed to come to the hotel with an interpreter immediately.
I met with him and he simply doesn’t have a “clue”. He thinks that a bus with “reclining” seats (ha!) is a sleeper bus and that since the trip was less than 4 hours, he was not obligated to provide a bus with bunks. I reminded him of our conversation the day before wherein he confirmed that there were 12 bunks on the bus. I also had my office fax a copy of an email from him stating that he was providing a sleeper bus for us. I finally gave up and told him I wanted to be paid the balance due us immediately and we would do sound check and the show. His answer was that if he paid me now, there was no guarantee that the Bellamys would perform. So, I brought out the contract which stated that we must be paid the balance UPON ARRIVAL and prior to the performance. He agreed.
I called the road manager and told him to get the guys ready to go to the venue at 11:30 am. We went to the room to get our equipment where it was locked up at the hotel and everything was GONE. Then the promoter said that the bus driver called his son last night and he came and got it and took it to his office! The van driver that was to take us to the venue had a microphone and insisted on pointing out all the “sites”. He spoke very broken English. Then about mid-way through his monologue, he reverted to GERMAN. After a 5 minutes speech, I told him that we do not understand German! Then he turned the radio on as loud as possible until I tapped him on the shoulder and gave him the “turn the music off or I will kill you” sign! According to the promoter, the hotel is 10 minutes from the venue. After 20 minutes of driving, we realized the van driver did not have a clue where he was supposed to take us. He had stopped at an intersection and backed down the street to read a road sign. I pointed out to him that there were signs everywhere with the BELLAMYS names on them and arrows pointing the way. Even with that, he still took us down dead end streets and could not find the venue. He finally stopped and I got out to walk and try to find the stage. Just as I got out, the promoter pulled up and showed us where to go. On the website, there are all these pictures with the water in the background, yachts, etc., but our stage is located at the very end of the water in front of a bunch of warehouses. I have no idea how the public will ever FIND the place, much less park a car anywhere.
I got paid and asked to see the dressing room. The dressing room is in a building about ¼ mile from the stage and all the bathrooms are located in that building. The building is locked and we were not allowed to have a key! Also, it had started raining. So, I made the van driver stay behind the stage with the key to the building to drive everyone back and forth!
A production company that is supposedly filming for RTL and who had been trying to negotiate a “filming” with me for days showed up right after we arrived. I had told them “no” several times because they do not have “professional” sound equipment to record the performance. But, they had booked nonrefundable flights thinking we would be able to work out everything. Had to tell them that the Bellamys would definitely be sleeping most of the day and not available for “b roll while sightseeing”. We agreed that they would NOT film any of the show and that I would ask the Bellamys if they could do a short interview prior to the performance.
By this time, I had decided to sell the rights to this Road Kill report for a Spinal Tap III special. And everyone thinks I’m so lucky to be able to travel like this and have such a glamorous job. Yeah, right.
The weather report on the internet was SUNNY and highs in the 70’s. It is raining and highs in the 40’s. Why does that not surprise me? At least we purchased “fleece” yesterday.
We got sound check finished but it took an hour longer than usual. I came back to the hotel to answer email and try to sleep for another hour. I went downstairs at 5:30 to order dinner and a couple of the guys were sitting there and had ordered their dinner already. I told the waiter I was in a BIG hurry because Susan said it took an hour for them to get theirs. Mine came out but the other guys were still waiting. I asked the waitress if she spoke English and she said , yes, of course. I explained that the guys had to leave in 10 minutes and needed their food. She said “11 o’clock”! Finally, I found the chef and asked him but instead they brought us a bill. I told them that the guys had not eaten and she said, “I know. My colleague is an intern and didn’t turn in the order”. So, the guys have to go to the gig without any food. I’ll try to find them SOMETHING over there but it’s going to be a real challenge. I will not be back at this event with any artists in the future.
The one bright spot is the fact that our bus to Holland is already at the gig and it IS a sleeper bus. It is a double decker with a lounge area downstairs and TWENTY bunks upstairs plus another sitting area! More bunks than I’ve ever seen in a bus in the U.S. Told the guys there was just some confusion and they should have given us half the bunks the night before. J
The venue was PACKED. Promoter said he only sold 800 tickets but I there must have been some purchases made that day because there were at least 1,000 there. I stood behind the merch table with Susan and watched the audience. The Germans are a wild and crazy (and mostly drunk) crowd. One lady was supposedly dancing but she looked like someone in a Seinfield skit. There was a lady in a wheelchair that they rolled right behind the tape and left her there for the show. Every time I went in or out of the backstage area (which was a LOT), I had to climb over her. I definitely think we should give the handicapped special access, but from where they put her, she could not see ONE thing on the stage. It was very strange.
Now, the autograph line was a real challenge. They do NOT line up. So, I got one of the two security (ha) guards that they had working and made him stand in front of the table with me. My back is sore this morning from people pushing on me and trying to force their way up to the table. Telling them to line up is pointless. But, at least it ran a little smoother and faster with us blocking the table.
It had started pouring rain during the show and continued to when we were departing at midnight. A car didn’t stop at an intersection and almost rammed the side of the bus where I was sitting. Then the driver pulled around the bus and stopped, got out and started yelling at the bus driver. Must have been drinking, I suppose!
The promoter was contracted to provide breakfast and dinner for us but when we checked out, they tried to make us pay. There was no way to call the promoter because he doesn’t have a cell phone (or he has one and doesn’t share the number with us!). We left without paying it. I think he’s probably a really nice guy but he doesn’t speak enough English to be negotiating contracts with bigger name country artists He’s always had little local unknown acts from the U.S. on the bill. This is the biggest name he’s ever booked and obviously needs a lot of “training” before attempting that again.
It took us 6 ½ hours to drive to Holland and it was “heavenly”. The bunks were great. I got up once at 4 am to go to the bathroom and it was raining so hard, water was coming into the bus on the lower level! Arrived in Holland by 7 am.