Thursday, May 31, 2007

Day Off in Dublin

A day off in Dublin. What could be finer? Did a little of this and a little of that all morning, then went with Blaine to meet his buddy Mel for lunch. Mel and his girl are vacationing over here, and got engaged last night.

Followed that with some hang time at Starbucks, then back to the room for some chill time.

Blaine and I were back at The Temple Bar by 6:40 and Dennis showed up shortly after. Ran into Ivan while we were looking for a place to eat. The four of us wound up at an Italian place that was pretty good. I had the Fettucine Fruit de Mare. My first pasta of the whole tour.

After that, a little barhopping. No more Guinness for me, I'd gotten my fill on the first night off here. I can't drink but a couple of them before they start bugging me. Gotta have The King.

We were having a great old time, but at 9:30 I said I was bailing. We have a 4:15am lobby call for a 6:50am flight to Brussels. Which means I'll be getting up at 3:30. Kinda sucks, but whatcha gonna do? So everyone split…

I was in bed by 10:45 – gotta get every minute of sleep I can.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Show Day in Dublin

Did the show. Stayed in afterwards.

Here are some photos that have been piling up:

Dublin Castle:
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Framed photo of native son Phil Lynnot, R.I.P., in a local music store:
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The Dublin Wall of Fame, on a city street:
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Day Off - Travel to Dublin

After the show last night, Blaine, Wally, and I met up in the hotel bar. Heather MacIntyre, wife of our drummer Craig MacIntyre, was already there. She didn't feel like going down to London and being bored all day long while Craig was doing TV with Josh, so she decided to fly to Dublin with the three of us. Our bus took the band to London, but we're a couple of accountants and an LD, so why would we go do TV?

So, anyway, a few beers before bedtime. Shots started being poured. I just flat refused, and got called a pussy a couple of times. Don’t care. It's gonna be hard enough to get up at 5:30 in order to make lobby call. I really shouldn't have been having any beer, but I was just not ready to go to bed. Finally went up to my room just before 1am.

This morning at the airport in Glasgow, there were about 250 soldiers from the US Army in the terminal, on their way to places east. It was the eeriest thing I've ever seen in my life. Every single one of them had the same look on their face. A look I can't even begin to describe. But I will never, ever forget it. I talked briefly to one of them. He was a teacher at the community college back home where he lived. I felt really bad for him, going off to fight George Bush's bullshit war. I sure hope he comes home in one piece.

We landed in Dublin just after 9am and after taking a car to the hotel, everyone crashed out for naps. I jumped in the shower first, then just cat-napped for about 30 minutes.

Blaine called, and off we went in search of fish and chips. The driver who drove us into town from the airport had told us about a killer place called Fusciardi's Traditional Fish & Chips, and he'd even pointed it out to us – it was only about a block from the hotel – a no brainer.

They had regular cod fish & chips, and what seems to be a more traditional dish, smoked cod fish & chips. Blaine went regular, I went smoked. Never had anything like it before. It was damn good.

After lunch we went over to Temple Bar to walk around and check out what would be our nightlife area for the next few nights. Our hotel (The Morrison) is on one side of the River Liffey, and Temple Bar is just across the river on the south bank, a one-minute walk from here. It's Dublin's cultural quarter and has a lively nightlife that is popular with the tourists. Really cool little neighborhood and they've preserved the area's medieval street pattern, with many narrow, cobblestone streets.

The River Liffey:
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We also wandered around the campus of nearby Trinity College, where the members of U2 went to school and supposedly played their first shows, billed as "Feedback", "The Hype", and then finally, U2.

Back to the hotel for some chill time, then Ivan calls me around 7 to meet up for beers. Me and Blaine head over to The Temple Bar Pub, in Temple Bar of course, where Ivan shows up in a bit.
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After a few rounds, Dennis and Josh showed up. Poor Josh gets recognized everywhere he goes, so he graciously posed for photos with fans between sips of Guinness.

Wound up down the street for dinner at a place called Gallagher's Boxty House. Dennis had eaten there before and said it was good. Worked for me. Great food, lots of laughter. Josh even picked up the tab for everyone. He's one of the nicest people I've ever worked for, no doubt.

After dinner, everyone decided to head out for more drinks somewhere else. I opted for bed cuz it's a school night…

Monday, May 28, 2007

Show Day in Glasgow

Wide awake on the bus at 5:30 this morning. I was the only person still on it – everyone else had gone into their rooms when we arrived around 2:30am. If I have to wake up, grab my stuff, and go to a hot stuffy room, there's no way I'll go back to sleep, so I just stayed in my bunk. The hotel and the venue are right next to each other, which is great.

Today's show is at the Clyde Auditorium, which is also known as The Armadillo. Here's why:

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Backside of the Armadillo, from high up in the hotel:
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The front of the Armadillo:
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It sits right next to the River Clyde, which looks pretty cool:
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TOILET PAPER UPDATE: As you might imagine, the Scots are a bit stingy with their paper. Kinda reminded me of paper towels, and the little squares are noticeably smaller than American paper. Gotta give these folks a 2, and I think that's being generous.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Show Day in Manchester

Anything worth writing about today?


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Day Off - Travel to Manchester

Blaine and I finished off in the hotel bar last night, closing it down around 1am. I had 5-6 Czech Budvars. He matched me beer-for-beer, and on top of that, he had a shot of Jack Daniels with each round. He tried to get me in on that, but I didn't want to feel like shit today.

After the show last night, our bus took the band (except for Tim, the percussionist) to London to another TV show. No need for Blaine, Wally (the LD), or I to go to that, so we stayed overnight in Birmingham, along with Tim. We'll be taking the train to Manchester…

Blaine and I hit the Starbucks shortly after 10, then walked around sightseeing a bit.

Met the guys in the lobby at noon, and off we went to the train station. We took the 12:48pm train to Manchester, arriving shortly before 2:30. Sat in first class, which is great on a train. Our entire coach had maybe 5 other passengers in it and was very peaceful and serene. Except for us, of course. Had we been bothering anyone, though, they could easily have moved back one car into the first class "Quiet Zone" car, where conversation of any sort is discouraged.

Made it to our hotel about 2:45. Up to rooms for chilling and/or napping, with a plan to reconvene in the lobby at 6 for a walkabout. Dinner will be by consensus with talk already of curry, or Chinese, or a good ol' chipshop. As long as there's beer, I don't care. Truth be known, I'd prefer the fish 'n chips, but I'll go with the crowd.

View across the hall from my door:
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View from my room window:
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Met Tim and Blaine in the lobby at 6pm and off we went in search of beers. Wound up at the Town Hall Tavern. Nice enough place to quaff a pint. I wanted a Boddington's but the bartender had a sad tale to tell me. It seems that since the last time I was here (2005), the Boddington's brewery has up and moved to Newcastle. Which means that Boddington's Pub Ale is no longer "The Cream of Manchester", as I've always known it. He said I'd have a hard time finding it anywhere in town these days – the townsfolk are still pissed at the brewery for taking their jobs elsewhere.

So no Boddington's for me. Not today.

Wally called and we met up with him 30 minutes later at a pub called the Old Monkey. Slapped back quite a few beers there and ran into about 7-8 crew guys from Lionel Ritchie. Nice buncha guys, including their tour manager. Those poor bastards have been over in Europe since January. That's waaaay too long to tour over here in one stretch. Our little 4 week tour is about as much as I can take.

So anyway, hung with them as long as was feasible. We still hadn't had dinner yet and didn't want all the restaurants to close on us. Goodbye all around, then we headed to Chinatown. Can't remember the place we ate at, but it was hella crowded at 10:30. The food was great!

Made it back to the hotel a little after midnight…

Friday, May 25, 2007

Show Day in Birmingham

Blaine and I walked the 5 blocks to the venue in time for our 8am load-in. Everything moved slowly all morning – we finally got power and internet in the office just past noon.

Not much to say about the rest of the day, so I'll show you some photos I found on my memory card of an Icelandic sundown from May 16th. Guess I forgot I took these:




(It pretty much stays this light for the next 3-4 hours.)
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Day Off in Birmingham

Got up at 9 this morning so I could make it downstairs in time for the free breakfast. All of our hotels (except one) on this tour include breakfast in our room price. Which is great for a cheapskate like me. Or you could say it's just more per diem money for the bar tabs.

This was gonna be my first proper English breakfast, with eggs, beans, mushrooms and broiled tomatoes. Was. Didn't turn out that way. We're at the Birmingham Malmaison, which is a great hotel (stayed in plenty of Mal's) in a great location (connected to the mall, surrounded by more restaurants, pubs, shops and entertainment than you would believe), but it's just foofy enough of a hotel to offer a more upscale breakfast than I was hoping for. Way more European and trendy – no beans, no 'shrooms, no tomatoes, nada. Won't be coming down tomorrow before walking to the gig – I'll eat at the venue instead as we're using Eat Your Hearts

I was gonna get caught up on some TV this morning (season finale of 24, coupla Lost episodes), but the hotel's internet connection wasn't fast enough to let me crank up the Slingbox back home. Oh, well…

Ivan called around 11:30 and wanted to find some lunch. Blaine called 5 minutes later, same thing. Off to Shakespeare's Pub again, the place from last night, where all three of us had the fish & chips (when in Rome…).

The rest of the day was spent window-shopping, people watching, and walking around.

One of the shopping areas:

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I think this is the town hall building:
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The statue in front of it is referred to by the locals as "The Floozie in the Jacuzzi". Here a few shots of it.

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The three of us reconvened again around 7:30 for dinner. Wound up at a really good Mediteranean restaurant where many Czech Budvars were consumed. Budvar is the original Budweiser. Green bottle, tastes great.

After dinner, we walked along the canal and followed it up to the party district. The other guys really wanted to hit the touristy/popular bars. I wanted to stop at some of the dingy pubs along the canal. I probably should have just met up with them later (or not), because we wound up at exactly the kind of bar that I would normally not be caught dead in. Full of idiots.

Back in my room by midnight…

TOILET PAPER UPDATE: Bless the English. They get it. Best paper of the tour.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Travel Day to Birmingham

Up at 8am. Joined Wally for breakfast. Amazing. Best breakfast of the tour. Can you say shrimp?

We had a noon flight to Birmingham. Had to go through 2 different security x-ray checkpoints, then ride a bus way the hell across the airport property to get to our plane. Since we were booked as a group, we got fucked yet again. I wound up in a middle seat, which I hate.

Dropped bags at the hotel (The Malmaison), then Blaine, Ivan, Dale (stylist), and I went in search of food. Found a bunch of cool restaurants behind the hotel along the canal. Wound up at a Thai/Chinese/Malaysian place. Hungarian waitress was totally cool and a hottie to boot.

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Another shot from up above the canal dining area:

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After lunch, we took a walk to Starbucks, which was in the middle of the shopping district. Lots to do around here. We eventually found 4 Starbucks locations within just a few blocks.

Around 7, met Wally, Ivan, Blaine and Lucia (violinist) at Shakespeare's Pub for a few pints. They didn't have Boddington's, but the bartender recommended Worthington's to me. Had the same beautiful pour as a Boddington's – you know what I'm talking about if you've ever had one, if you haven't, you have no idea – and maybe, just maybe, it tasted even better. Gonna have to see if I can find these back home somewhere.

Lucia split after a few rounds. I think maybe she still wasn't 100% after a big night last night. The boys and I found a killer curry place a few blocks away in the party district. I had asked a local cop for a recommendation. He nailed it – we all agreed it was great.

Shot of our hotel on the way back home:
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A few more beers in the hotel bar and off to bed…

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Show Day in Frankfurt

Woke up at the venue. Won't be seeing any of Frankfurt this time around.

After the show, we headed to the hotel. We'll be flying to Birmingham, UK tomorrow to enjoy a couple of days off. Not many overnights on the bus on this run, at least not for the band party, which is who I travel with. The crew are on their buses almost everywhere. Me, I'd rather fly.

Anyway, tonight we're staying at the Villa Kennedy, perhaps the finest hotel I've ever been in. Amazing rooms, amazing architecture, amazing everything. One of band guys told me it cost $70 million dollars to build. Opened in 2006.

When we got back to the hotel, Wally finally admitted that today is his birthday. Sneaky fucker. Off to the hotel bar to celebrate. Yeah, like we needed an excuse, right?

Beers were hella expensive, around $13 usd for drafts. At least they were good, being local German-brewed drafts.

There was a jazz pianist in the bar, along with a vocalist. Did a brilliant version of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World". When they finished around midnight, our drummer Craig asked if he could play a song and the pianist graciously let him. Craig's wife Heather is traveling with us for a few days, so she got up and sang 3 or 4 songs while Craig played. They were terrific. Did a couple of songs that Heather had written, and also covered an old Gram Parsons song.

When they were done, Mike Klvana (our ProTools guy) went to the piano and pretty much tore the place down. The dude can play!!!

TOILET PAPER UPDATE: The toilet paper at the gig was like sandpaper glued onto cardboard. Not pleasant. The stuff here at the hotel is cotton-soft…

Monday, May 21, 2007

Show Day in Amsterdam

Damn hotel lighting sucked this morning. Beautiful room, but the lighting was all artsy and shit and was ill placed in the bathroom. When you're trying to shave, the last thing you need is recessed lighting in the ceiling pointing straight down and located BEHIND you. WTF????????

The shower was a cool little alcove area off the bathroom hallway, with a sliding frosted-glass "pocket" door (coming out of the wall) to seal the area. On the floor, the only thing keeping the water in the shower was a marble lip about an inch tall. Shoulda been taller. The damn drain was slower than hell and backed up, which filled the area quickly. I wound up making one helluva mess. Blaine said later that he did the same thing.

The bus split at midnight for Frankfurt.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Woke up around 9 to watch the rest of the race. My boy Kevin Harvick took the checkers and the million-dollar payday.

I should have gone out for a walk or something, but I chilled instead. Walking around Amsterdam tonight sounds like a better idea, anyway.

Lobby call 1:30. A few folks were draggin' ass, we didn’t' make it to the Stockholm airport until 2:30 or so. Still plenty of time to make a 3:55 flight.

View on the way to the airport:
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The security lines here are a lot easier than in the states. You don't have to take off your shoes, and the metal detector isn't as sensitive – you can leave your belt on even with a metal buckle. Still gotta pull out your laptops, though.

And did I mention that most of the female workers at the airport are gorgeous Swedish girls? Not a damn thing wrong with that.

Got to the hotel in Amsterdam around 7. Got caught up on email and met Blaine down in the lobby around 8. We headed over to a nearby Italian restaurant to join Dennis, Ivan, Wally, and Tariqh for dinner. The only beer they served was pony bottles (8 ounces) of Heineken. Normally, not having Budweiser is grounds for me leaving, but over here in Europe, I have to suspend the golden rule.

This is the only place I tolerate Heineken beer is here in Amsterdam. It tastes completely different from the Heinie in the US because it's made here and is very fresh. It's actually pretty good.

Amsterdam canal at night:

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After dinner, Dennis suggested that we hit the "rock" bar over at Dam Square, so off we went. It was a cool rock & roll dive bar called Rock Planet. They had lots of autographed guitars, gold records, and other memorabilia hanging on their walls. They also had a helluva collection of live DVD's, which they played over their 5 TV's. And they had Bud. Score. We immediately requested some Thin Lizzy. The bartender asked "Why Thin Lizzy?" to which 3 of us replied "Why NOT Thin Lizzy?"

We were there until about 12:30. I had really wanted to be in bed at 11pm, but Dennis was having none of it. I finally got in bed a little after 1…

The Swedish did better than the previous countries – their paper had tiny punches in it, but not all the way through. So it was kind of smooth on one side, "grippy" on the other. Would have been a 3, but the grippy/smooth got it an extra point, so there's the first "4" of the tour.

The Dutch paper here in Amsterdam is even closer to good old 'Merican paper. It rates a 5. Pretty foofy hotel, expensive. Might have something to do with it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Show Day in Stockholm, Sweden

Woke up on the bus, which was parked inside the building, around 8am. I'm gonna have to get out and take a walk around at some point. It's just unnatural to me not to see daylight every day.

Last night was the first ride on our buses since flying over. I've got the nicest bus I've ever had in Europe. We use an Austrian coach company called Beat The Street. I'm on a double-decker with a huge lounge (that seats 9 or so) downstairs, another lounge upstairs that seats 5-6, and 14 bunks, also upstairs. We've got 11 people on the bus, and for most of the tour, there will be at least one wife/girlfriend onboard.

And the air conditioner absolutely, positively stomps ass. I nearly froze my ass off last night.

Because I travel with the band party on this tour, as opposed to the crew party with whom I usually travel, I'm also doing a bunch of flying. Josh doesn't brutalize his band, which is nice. The crew buses will be starting an 845-mile drive tonight after the show, which includes 2 ferries. I'll be going out for drinks after the show, sleeping in an awesome hotel, the Rival, and taking a flight tomorrow afternoon. Departs Stockholm 4pm, arrives in Amsterdam at 6pm. And we'll be there before the crew.

Yeah, this tour is spoiling me.

Tonight we're staying at the Rival Hotel (pronounced reev-all). It's owned by Benny Andersson, one of the 4 people who make up the band Abba. I'm thinking he's a distant cousin of Terry Anderson, my buddy back home. But then again, maybe not.

The bar at the hotel tonight was cool. All the women there were drop-dead gorgeous. I'm talking hot, hot, hot. The dudes were all good looking, too – just not my thang.

Anna, our local Live Nation rep, met up with Blaine and me at the bar and she brought along Martin, the young fellow she's training. She bought us a bunch of beer (Carlsberg's) and lots of funny conversation ensues.

After the bar closed at 2, Anna and Martin split and I headed to my room to watch the race from Charlotte. Wish I could stay awake to see the end, but no way. A little after 3am, the sun started to come up, so out I went.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Show Day in Oslo, Norway

Ouch! Out too late, too many beers. Not a pretty was to start the day, but it was a helluva way to end one.

Met Blaine in the lobby for breakfast, which was quite the spread. A show runner picked us up around 9 and off we went to the venue.

Just another day at work. But at least work was in Norway today. Show 3 of 13 – kind of a short run for a European tour. I'll be back home in 3 weeks, porch-surfing.

Oh, yeah, forgot to talk about the toilet paper…

The paper in Reykjavik? Three on a scale of 1 to 10. Pretty crappy, pardon the pun. But the paper here in Oslo is even worse. I'll be nice and give it a 2. With a little more tensile strength, you could use it to buff out scratches in your car's finish. Seriously, if my beloved Angel Soft was $5 per roll back home and this stuff was free, I'd spend the dough.

But hey, if toilet paper is the only disappointing thing about touring Europe, life's not so bad, is it?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Day Off in Reykjavik/Oslo

I never made it to the party last night. I went to the club on one of the last van runs, but ran into Josh's vocal coach David at the door – I was heading in, he was heading out – and he said the smoke inside was pretty bad, as was the music. That was all I needed to hear. Went back to the hotel to drink with Abby and Dennis and a bunch of the crew guys. Called it a night around 2 am and crashed.

Got up this morning around 9, the only reason being to take advantage (for the 4th day in a row) of the awesome breakfast spread the hotel has. The price is included in our rooms, which is sweet.

Because it was raining and cold and nasty outside, I never left the hotel until it was time to go to the airport, around 2pm. We had plenty of time to waste once we got there (around 3), because our flight wasn't until 5:50. With the flight time and the time change, we landed in Oslo around 10:30 pm and dashed off to the hotel. Having slept a bit on the plane due to absolute boredom, Blaine and I decided to grab a bite and a couple of beers. Never got around to the food.

Today is a national holiday here in Oslo, and everybody at every bar is completely wasted. I mean stupidly, staggeringly, blindly, falling-down drunk. It's awesome. Blaine and I wound up in the park across the street from the hotel, at some sort of restaurant/beer garden called Saras Telt. Don't know what it means, maybe something along the lines of "We have the drunkest patrons in town."

Blaine and I grabbed a table and ordered a couple of large draft beers, 78 Norwegian kroner each. That would be $13.00 EACH, y'all. The place was closing, and it was last call. The waiter was nice enough to sell them to us, but only after we explained to him that we'd only just arrived from Iceland and this was our first and possibly last beer of the night.

About 10 feet from us, there was a cute-as-all-hell girl packing up a small PA system. So I hollered at her, "Hello… HELLO!" She looked up and I asked if she had been doing karaoke or playing music. She got a rather annoyed look on her face and said "Karaoke? Karaoke? How about I come over there and kick your ass, Swedish-style?"

My heart melted.

So I'm like sorry, sorry, we just got here and we missed your show. So what were you doing? When she realized I wasn't being an asshole (I know, rare for me…), the ice broke and we struck up a conversation. Her name was Alexandra, she's Swedish and lives in Sweden, and is a singer/songwriter. She'd just finished playing for four and a half hours and was packing up for the night. I asked her if there were any other bars nearby that were open later than this place and she said she knew of one and would we like to join her there for a beer?

See if you can guess what my answer was, based on this picture of her:

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We wound up going a few blocks away to a bar called Dr. Jekyll's, where we sat outside and had a great time. You will never know how much I regret having to work the next day. Maybe you can guess that, too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Show Day 2 in Reykjavik, Iceland

Had to get out of bed to take a leak around 3:30 am last night. Damn beers! The sun was coming up. Sunset lasted for hours and hours and darkness lasts maybe 60-90 minutes.

Such a place!

Wow! We managed to squeeze an entire day's worth of fun in and still be back at the hotel by lunchtime.

Since we're doing 2 shows at the same venue, everything's already in place for tonight's show. Most of us have no reason to go to the gig before 2pm today.

So… a group of 6 of us went on a whale-watching excursion this morning. Everyone was up, had breakfast (or not) and met in the lobby around 8:30 for the 10-minute drive to the Whale Watching Center.

I wasn't sure we were gonna be able to do it, because when I got up around 6:15, it was raining and about 43 degrees. Here's what the sky looked like then:

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It had mostly blown clear by the time we left the hotel. Abby set up one of our show runners to come pick us up in a van and take us to the waterfront. It was still a little chilly (high today was 50 degrees), but the boat provided insulated overalls, raincoats, hats and such, so we were all fine.

The trip lasted just under 3 hours and cost us each 4100 Kroners, which is about $67-68 in USD. The seas were calm, which was good. Otherwise, I would have been hurling pickled herring (from breakfast) over the side of the boat. One fellow on board was telling us about having taken the trip on Sunday when the waves were 8-10 meters. He said a lot of folks were getting seasick and throwing up and the ship actually turned around and returned to port. Everyone onboard that day got free tickets to take the excursion again, which is why he was there today.

After we reached the whaling area, the captain killed the engines to drift a bit. He would occasionally fire 'em up to rotate us or move us a bit for better viewing. The guide was an Icelandic hottie, about 25 years old, who stood atop the bridge. As she was spotting whales, she'd use her handheld wireless microphone to announce their location over the boat's PA system. In her cute little accent we'd hear "There's one, 11 o'clock to the front of the boat, and another at 3 o'clock." She could have read me the damn newspaper in that accent and I woulda loved it.

Here's some shots:

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Captain Bob
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Abby Franklin, our wardrobe chick, in her ship-provided overalls. Note all the folks in ship-provided raincoats, too:
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Blaine Brinton, our traveling Live Nation rep:
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Michael Colucci, our teleprompter operator:
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The Whaling Gang:
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The view out here:
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The whales. You might have to enlarge these photos to see 'em. Elusive bastards...
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Two whale photos that Blaine took:
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This one I did not take. Wish I could say I did:
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Need help identifying the different whales? Get it here:
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Not flying to Norway until 5:50pm tomorrow, so Josh is throwing a party tonight after the show. Those details coming soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Show Day in Reykjavik, Iceland

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Not much to report today. I walked over to the venue around 11am this morning and never left the building until after the show.

There was no opening act, just Josh, so the show ended nice and early. I even walked out front and watched a song during the show. The crowd was very polite and very well dressed. Which you would think they would be – the tickets were $205 and $157 equivalent. The venue itself is called Laugardalshollin, and it's part of a large compound near downtown Reykjavik. The soccer stadium is here, the Olympic training facility is here, and a few other things. If you walk outside catering through a back door, you're in a hallway, which has floor-to-ceiling walls on one side overlooking the indoor track and field training center. Lots of young Olympic hopefuls are in there training while we're here.

I walked back to the hotel shortly before 11, then headed to the bar to join everybody. Only had a few beers – gotta get to bed at a reasonable time, so I can get up and go whale watching with some other folks in the morning.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Arrival in Iceland

Slept all of 90 minutes on the plane and I'm actually surprised I slept that much. The flight was about 5 hours long, and we had a 4 hour time change, so we landed at 6:30am local time. On the way through immigrations, we had to go through a security checkpoint where our carry on stuff was all x-rayed again. WTF is that about??? We've already done all that before getting ON the plane in Boston. Even stranger, the dude confiscated my open bottle of water. Coming INTO the country. The water was from the fucking plane for crying out loud!!!

It's about a 30-40 minute drive to the hotel, and there's 9 of us jammed in a 15-passenger van with about a million bags. The landscape flying by looks like a chocolate version of the moon. I think the whole island must be lava rock. I should read more about the places I've never been before.

Grabbed breakfast with the band dudes at the hotel, then went off to my room in hopes of a couple of hours of sleep. Here's the view from the seventh floor. Look close enough and you'll see the snow-covered peaks in the distance:

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Got about 90 minutes of sleep or so before Moe, our new production manager, called and woke me up because he needed me to come to the venue. After all, I've got all the money…

Spent the rest of the day there (inside, drats!). Catering was awesome – it was pretty much about forty different tapas dishes.

Worked until just before 11pm, then walked back to the hotel. It's all of 2 blocks from the venue and the walk is nice, along a paved path that looks like the Raleigh Greenway I ride my bike on every morning back home.

One of my friends back home told me that Reykjavik was known as a party town.

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I guess it's from all the falkinn they do around here.

Sorry for that one - couldn't leave it be. BTW, that's not my hotel, just one I passed on the way. We're staying at the love Nordica Hotel. Beautiful rooms, they even have hardwood floors.

Here's a shot I took at around 10:45pm, yes, PM!

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And here's one I took from my window just past 11pm:

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Not sure this photo gets it across as well as being here, but the view is absolutely breathtaking. It's like a beautiful sunset that lasts for hours and hours and hours. I sure wish we had more time to spend here.

And here's one taken just past 1am:
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Finally got to bed around 2:15am.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Travel Day to Iceland

Woke up around 4:30, but managed to fall back to sleep for a while. Finally got up at 5:45 to start my day.

Got all my last minute stuff done just in time to leave at 10:30. Neighbor Charlene was kind enough to drive me to the airport. She was also the recipient of some goodies I was gonna throw out of the fridge.

Security was a piece of cake – I was through it in less than 5 minutes. I'm flying on American to Boston; arriving 3pm, then leave there for Iceland at 9:30 tonight. We'll arrive Monday morning at 6:30am local time and hopefully I'll catch a couple of hours of sleep before going to work. Load-in's at 8am, and all the crew folks flew over the other day.

Couldn't get my boarding pass in Boston because the airline I'm flying (Icelandair) only has the one outgoing flight every night, so the counter staff doesn't show up until after 5. So I found a killer restaurant called Dine Boston to grab a quick dinner. Their shrimp cocktail was among the best I've ever had, and I also had a lobster roll. A lobster roll is pretty much a hot dog of sorts – a hot dog type soft roll overflowing with huge chunks of seasoned lobster meat. Amazing…

Once I got ticketed up, I headed downstairs to the AerLingus lounge, in which they allow Icelandair business class travelers (oh, the perks!). Free wireless internet, so I put the Slingbox back home to use and watched the NASCAR race. Dennis showed up around 7 and we started drinking beer. Kinda got involved in that and we wound up being the last clowns to get on the plane, barely getting there before they closed the doors. Oops.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Almost Time to Leave

Mom's surgery was postponed until Tuesday morning. I drove down to visit her in the hospital that day. When she came out of recovery around 5pm, she was in a lot of pain and was also generally uncomfortable. The doctor says she's not out of the woods yet, but at least we won't have to worry so much about that one aneurysm in her abdomen.

Tried to get a lot of crap done around the house this week. I'm running out of time. Leaving for Iceland on Sunday. We'll be touring Europe and the UK for about 4 weeks, then I'll fly home again on June 7th for a few weeks off before starting the next US leg of the tour.

Finally got around to installing my Slingbox yesterday. Or trying to. Turns out I had to go to the Apple store to get the latest Airport product, the Airport Extreme. Reason was, I needed the ethernet output jacks that unit has in order to hook the Slingbox up. Couldn't do it with my current router, the Airport Express. So anyway, the Slingbox is totally rocking. It's hooked up to my digital cable feed and my wireless network, which means that now, anywhere in the world I travel (as long as I have a high-speed connection), I can watch TV and control my system (even the remote control) exactly the same as if I was sitting on my couch watching it at home. Finally, I can see NASCAR in Europe (instead of rugby, ugh!), and I won't have to buy my favorite shows (24, Lost, etc.) from the iTunes website to keep up with them. All I do is set my DVR to record them, then watch them whenever I have time. Cool…

Went out last night with Foy to do a little barhopping, then to Hideaway for dinner and to catch Jen Gunderman's band from Nashville. I might have had a few too many beers, cuz I sure feel like shit today.

Foy and Terry and Carina were gonna come over tonight to watch the Darlington race, but it got rained out. It's rescheduled for Sunday at 1pm, which is exactly when my flight leaves RDU for Boston. The good news is that I have a 6½ hour layover at Boston Logan, so maybe I'll score some internet access and watch it via the Slingbox.

I spent the evening at home, finishing laundry, packing, and paying last minute bills and such. It was rainy and nasty outside, so I didn't feel like going out for dinner. Also, didn't want to dirty any dishes on my last night, so I had Papa John's drop off some chow.

In bed around 11:30 – long day tomorrow…

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Still at Home

OK, I've been kinda slack with my blogging of late. Just don't seem to get time every day to mess with it. So here goes as much as I can recall from the last week or so…

On Monday, mom had the exploratory procedure done. The doctors have decided that the surgery will be needed and scheduled it for Thursday. Thursday morning, mom had a fever and an infection that prevented them from doing it. First they needed to locate the cause of the fever and deal with that. Surgery was tentatively scheduled for Friday or, more likely, Monday. It didn't happen Friday, so hopefully it will be Monday. I'm going down to visit her on Tuesday one way of the other.

Got my new camera a few days ago. It's the tiny new Sony DSC-T100. I've got a great Canon camera, which has a 10x optical zoom on it. It's killer and all, but it's just too damn big to walk around with whenever I wander around during my travels. I've been looking for something a little more "pocket" sized. The new Sony is really, really small, has 8.1 megapixels, 5x optical zoom and a beautiful 3" LCD screen. I'll try to have it in my pocket everywhere I go on the upcoming European tour. I took a couple of pictures of it to show you, but I forgot to get them off of the other camera's flash card before I left town.

Haven't been running much lately. I've developed a nasty case of Plantar Fasciitis, which makes walking, running, or even standing up pretty painful. It involves some of the tendons that run along the bottom of your feet, from the heel to the front. I've got a bunch of stretching to do 3 times a day, and I try to spend 30-60 minutes a day rolling my foot over a can of frozen tomatoes. Sounds silly, but it makes it feel a lot better.

Tonight, I'm hosting Jeff McIntyre's 50th birthday party at my house. Been frantically buying party stuff (food, beer, liquor, etc.) and cleaning the house.