I rolled onto my 3:40pm flight to Philadelphia in route to Lisbon, Portugal with my hands free of luggage thanks to my new $5 travel tool belt purchased from Wal-Mart just days before. It was loaded with all of the essentials. Let’s see, I had a contacts case with solution in it, my camera, my cell phone, passport, wallet, my travel itinerary and the 2 most important things I needed for my overseas flight, AdvilPM and earplugs. The screaming baby in front of me rendered the plugs priceless as they were in my ears even before taking off.
Upon arriving in Philly Roscoe called to say that my travel companion to Europe would be taking another flight and that I would be flying alone. Dan’s flight from Nashville was cancelled just an hour before take-off so he had to scramble to find Becker’s number to make other arrangements. Becker is our super-agent travel dude who is the definition of “Mr. Git-R-Done”. He got right on the case but unfortunately the alternate route would send Dan through Chicago, then London and THEN Lisbon, putting him getting there some 6 later than originally planned.
After the in-flight meal of spicy penne pasta I popped in the AdvilPM and tried to get comfortable. Yeah right. It was more of a case of “ya can’t get there (to sleep) from here”. I fought with that little pillow they give you for about 2 hours before finally knocking out. It was only after accidentally dropping that wieldy little puffball that I was able to rest. With only about 45 minutes left till touchdown I was awakened by the steward handing me some kind of industrial strength Twinkie called “Dave’s Buttermilk Bar” and a cup of coffee. My body is already seeing the sunlight and giving me that “Wha..? Huh..? It’s 1:30 in the morning and we’re already up?” thing.
I run into Roscoe and Keith at the baggage claim belt in Lisbon. They are coming in about the same time as me from Newark. It takes forever to find my luggage since some other nice traveler had already taken it off and set it invisibly behind a pole for me. Thank you, Mr. Helpful!
Our beautiful promoter reps met us out by the exit and showed us to the van and on to the hotel. The very giggly Itana and Ines let us know that they were there to take care of our needs so after a nap back at the room and a quick snack with Roscoe at a near by sandwich shop I called and asked them to show me the town. What the hell, huh? After all, I didn’t go to Lisbon to lie around and watch TV. In less than an hour they were there with bells on to take me to the old part of town, Altfama and to the King’s castle. They told me all about the Arabian invasions and other historical tidbits that made the afternoon both interesting and fun. Dan’s flight finally arrived though and we had to go back to the airport to pick him up. I knew he would be in a puddle when he got off of his roundabout journey so I went along to help scoop him up and carry him to the van. He only got about 30 minutes rest back at the hotel as the girls waited outside before hauling us down to the Music Box for soundcheck. When we arrived everything was in order and all of the equipment met our specifications. This made soundcheck a breeze and we were soon whisked away down the street for a fine Portuguese dinner.
It was great not having ANY gear to break down so we were tucked away in our hotel rooms by 3am. The time there was short though as the alarm went off in a mere 2 hours so that we could be gathered up and thrown onto a plane to Brussels.
A very groggy bunch of Yayhoos gave hugs to our hosts and were in the air at 8am or so. The 2 hour flight allowed for a little more rest but not much. We were all hoping that a rep from the next gig, a festival show in Holland, would be there, willing and able to get us on stage (an hour and a half away) by our 2:15pm slot time. Tony was that dude. Once we all had our bags he was rushing us to the van and down the road towards the town of Weert, Holland.
We arrived with an hour to spare, just in time to be shown our dressing room and to arrange the stage to our liking.
When the clock on the side of the stage struck 2:15 a dude spoke some foreign gibberish before he very excitedly announced..”The SHJAY..HOOS!” I was the only one stage and hit the intro of “Boyfriend” on queue. Bap! Bap! bap! ..and into the groove I went. I was out there for about 30 seconds or so before Keith joined me in front of the crowd of at least 4 to 5 thousand. He commenced to tearing the ass out of the opening bass lines and we were soon joined by Dan and ‘Scoe. The show was inside of a circus tent that was about 20 degrees hotter than the beautiful 70 degree weather that was just outside. Despite our wearyness and lack of sleep (especially Dan who hadn’t slept at ALL since the flight over from Nashville) we rocked’m pretty damn hard in what could have very well been one of our best big stage performances.
The set was exactly one hour on the nose:
All Dressed Up
What Are we Waiting For
Bottle and a Bible
Monkey with a Gun
For Crying Out Loud
Never Give an Inch
…and finally the Swedish national anthem, Dancing Queen.
Soaked, we walked out of what Dan dubbed “The Rock Sauna” and out into the cool air ready to drink. Our friend, Gerben brought an excellent Australian Grenache/Shiraz blend and a couple of bottles of a very nice Reserve Rioja for our enjoyment, even providing wine glasses.
I hit the trailer with the showers in it and became human again. The bands were served dinner at 5pm and after we stuffed ourselves “Boss” took our very worthless asses to our fine hotel in Eindhoven. Not only was it a nice place, but the “awesome factor” got immediately raised when we heard the music to our ears, “four rooms”. I threw my stuff down, put on my Earnhart cut-off pajamas and was gone upon entering mine, crashing HARD. I woke up a bit restless a few hours later but managed to fall back to sleep and still make the 5:20am van call.
The no-name dude who picked us up wasn’t overly friendly. He drove with the care of an old grandmother, seeming more concerned about getting a ticket than getting us to the airport on time. Roscoe and Keith barely made their flight. The lines at the Continental counter were out the door and there was less than an hour before take off. Dan and I went ahead and got in the US Airways line even though it wasn’t to open for another 20 minutes or so. We were glad we did too because that line also got very long very fast.
When the ticket/baggage counter did finally open, someone made the mistake of waking the hair lip professional jet skier with the really loud fingernails-on-chalkboard voice. He made sure that everyone in the airport knew what he did for a living and his philosophies on life and how to live it. We survived both him and the ticketing and after Dan had a “smokey treat” we found a cool little place in the Amsterdam airport to hang out and eat at, Sandwich Island. It was a pretty popular joint as it took Dan almost 30 minutes to get our coffees refilled.
On the flight back home to Philly Dan I got split up and I had the luxury of the exit aisle, giving me a lot more leg space. The Richmond, VA couple beside me we nice so it was a pretty stress free ride even though it was 7 hours and 42 minutes long.
Dan and I met back up and helped each other get through customs, then the line to declare items bought overseas and finally security. There was not much time before both of our flights (which had to be “Becker-ed” again since our flight from Amsterdam was 3 hours late) were boarding. Dan had to do three legs again, flying first to Charlotte and then back into Nashville. Mine was a straight shot but since it was July 4th weekend even this flight was a bit delayed. We must have sat on the tarmac for an hour before taking off.
After it seemed like the sun was never going to go down, I finally started to see it fade. I was feeling the stubble on my face again, having shaved just that morning. Man, what a long day. I told a girl next to me who was flying to Raleigh from Paris, “Look! The sun’s going down!”. “I feel your pain”, she says.
My lovely wife who had been circling the airport for about 30 minutes was glad to hear my call from the plane that I was safe on the ground. She suggested sushi and I was all about it. We picked it up, plus a six pack and headed back to Bunn. It hadn’t rained, Nathan was away at camp and the dog wasn’t dead but it was still sure nice to be back home.