Imola, Italy Heineken Jammin Festival

Another big festival today with our friends R.E.M. and Garbage. Today's show is in Imola at the Autodromo Enzo Dino E Ferrari, this is where they race Formula 1 and World Superbike. Old track, but very cool.

Load-in and set-up quickly and then Hans and I are off to find catering. No one seems to know where it is, we wander around in punterland and end up near the dressing rooms . Smelling food we find a room that looks like catering and they take our meal tickets and we dig in. Pretty good, fresh italian sausage and pasta. On our way back we hear others on the radio searching for catering and we're informed we ate in the Artist's Catering. Oh well, they took the ticket and I'm sure it was better than the crew food.

See my buddy Justin another Metallica alum who is English, but happens to live about 30min from me in NC. He's doing drums for Garbage and I catch about half they're show. They sound great, but a little boring live. We take the stage next and it is apparent who the kids came to see, US!!! Crowd is insane and the guys pull off a great show, even without pyro, which was forbidden today. Load-out and get on the bus for our long drive to the next festival in Austria.

Bologna, Italy Day Off Part Two

Back at the hotel, we head out to find some food minus our production manager, who has work to do. We walk for about 15min till we find the Piazza Maggiore, a large square with restaurants and a large church. We walk around in search of a restaurant and find out nothing opens till 8pm, we have about an hour to kill. Walk around some more, go through strange side streets with fish markets and produce stands with things none of us can identify. Bump into other members of the crew who hip us to a good restaurant nearby. We find it, but still have 30min before it opens, so we settle in to a nearby cafe for sodas, beer and appetizers.

At 8pm we walk into Franco Rossi's Ristorante. It's very small only 6 or so tables on the ground floor. Staff is very attentive and give us English menus and suggest that we allow them to bring us a few selections of certain dishes. Sounds good to me!! We start off with two types of pasta: pumpkin tortellini and egg noodles Bolognese. The meat course is first sea bass with lemon, and then steak with balsamic vinegar and a portabella mushroom. Then the dessert of various peach and strawberry gelatos, with chocolate sauce. After, we get expresso with assorted cookies. I forgot to mention ever course comes with a different wine, even though I didn't have any the wine smelled great.

During dinner we notice the John Grisham book 'The Broker' is features prominently in the decor of the restaurant. We inquire, and are told Mr. Grisham ate there while researching for the book and ended up using the restaurant and owner in the book. Wow, very cool!!

After we're stuffed we ask the owner Franco to take a photo with us along with the wait staff. We are ready to leave, but Franco insists we come back in for a Limoncello after dinner liqueur.

We had intended to get some Gelato on the street after dinner, but we are too stuffed to even think about it. We decide to walk to a bar (pub) nearby instead. On the way there is a strange semi-marching band on the sidewalk playing The Tokens 'Lion Sleeps Tonight' to a large crowd. We listen for a few minutes then head to the pub off the Piazza Maggiore. Everyone at the pub is wearing U.A.U. shirts which stands for 'United Against Ugliness'. Not sure it's true meaning, but we thought it was rather funny.

Around midnight Geoff and I head back to the hotel after stopping in the Piazza to watch a couple of jugglers toss flaming batons and make jokes in Italian to another large crowd. back at the hotel, off to bed as we have an 8am call. It has been a pretty busy half day off, I think...

Me riding (ok, sitting) on the Ducati MotoGP Bike. And no I cannot wipe that goofy grin off my face.

Wake up to Italian Alps, bellisimo!! Stay up and drink tea with the English. Watch the rolling fields of grain, corn (?), and grape vines roll by. Back to bed for a few hours before we arrive.

Pull into Bologna around 3:30pm. I have a tour set for the Ducati Factory and Museum at 4pm. I call the curator and tell him it will be at least 4:30 before we can arrive. Up to the room for a quick shower and head count on folks going on the tour.

Meet in the lobby at 4pm, it's myself, our production manager Greg, monitor engineer Beau, audio tech Geoff, and rigger Brian. Off we go in a cab for the 20min trip to Ducati.

Arrive at the factory and are met at the gate by our host Livio Lido, who is the curator of Museo Ducati. We take a walk through the factory first with Livio giving us a history lesson of Ducati along the way. There is a strike in the factory, so there are no workers. This means we can take photos, which are normally not allowed. Sweet! Every Ducati motorcycle ever made has been made in this factory, there is no other. Kinda cool to see where my bike was made. Everyone says I'm like a kid at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, you can't tear the grin off my face ;) We walk along the production lines and snap a few photos and soon we are done.

Off to the Museo Ducati (Ducati Museum) next. It is filled almost entirely with Ducati race bikes. It is amazing to see. We even see a restored version of the first motorcycle Ducati made, which was actually a motor you attached to a bicycle. We top off the tour with Livio allowing me to sit on Loris Capirossi's Moto GP bike. Wow, if this bike were running it would be putting out 230+ rear wheel HP for speeds in excess of 205mph!!

We wrap up the tour with Livio presenting me with an edition of the Ducati book. An amazing hardback book on the history of the brand. My heartfelt thanks goes out to Livio for making this a once in a lifetime adventure. Click on my Flickr photo link to see all the pics.

Budapest - Show Day

Buy a new digital camera this morning to replace the one I lost. It's a Canon IXUS 40 or SD300. Hope to take some snaps with it tomorrow in Italy, as it's pouring rain outside the gig.

Budapest, Hungary -Day Off

Arrive in Budapest around noon. Check-in to the very nice Kempinski Hotel. Check email, etc. Go on walkabout for about 2.5 to 3 hours, trying to work out the kink in my back from sleeping wrong on the bus. Doesn't work. Back in room around 5ish. Fall asleep and wake up around 8:30pm. Doh!

Don't see anyone in the lobby, so I wander over to McDonald's for food, since I don't have the energy to find anything good. Walking back with my McD's, spot Micah and Kenny and they're on the way to dinner with various crew and maybe some of the band (those that didn't go see Duran Duran play tonight). Toss my McD's in the nearest trash container and head out with them.

We end up at a place near the hotel which serves various cuisines. I order the Black Pepper Crusted Grouper. It is excellent. A few get the Duck or Wild Boar. Looks good. We finish dinner around midnight, they'll let you sit as long as you want in Europe, even when they're closing... Go back to our hotel where the members of Duran Duran are just arriving to celebrate Nick Rhode's birthday with our band/crew in the bar. I pass and end up riding up in the lift with Nick on his way to dump presents in his room.

Off to bed for me after writing this.

4a.m. Somewhere in Slumberland

Awaken to someone pounding on my door and yelling my name. Thinking it is an emergency and hopefully not some drunk crew member, I crack the door with the chain on. As soon as I do the door bursts in with about 15 of the band and crew, including our videographer. Seems they are going around waking people up as a prank. Pretty funny, can't be mad at those guys. I get to choose the next victim off the rooming list. Sweet!! So now I'm awake and writing this at 5am. Oh well, bus call is not till 12:30pm.

PS: I find out this kind of behavior is called 'Rat Packing'.
PSS: In all 15 to 20 people were Rat Packed...

Katowice, Poland Day Off

Wake up early due to the total lack of paving on the Polish roadways. Eventually go back to sleep after watching the countryside for awhile. Arrive at the hotel around noon. Check in, no hi speed, also I can only plug my computer into the AC in the bathroom, as I lost my adapter already.

After a shower, go downstairs and run into a couple of the guys from the crew. Pat, our carpenter has already done a recon of the town and we head off for some lunch after bumping into the drummer in the lobby. Walk around the shopping area and find an outdoor cafe near the train station and stop and have lunch. Semi-english menu gets me a Pepsi and grilled chicken, not bad. After lunch more walking around, and it eventually starts raining so we hit another sidewalk cafe to escape the rain and do some people watching. Rain doesn't let up so we eventually find a pub and get a lite dinner then head back to the hotel.

I do some reading on Barcelona, as we have 5 days off there coming up. Then off to sleep...

European Tour

June 3 Rock Im Ring Festival, Germany

Bus call at 7am (groan), 2hr ride to the Nurbergring Race Track, home to World Superbike and Formula One Grand Prix. This is the biggest outdoor festival in Germany and lasts three days. There is a concurrent festival in Nuremberg, where we go tomorrow (the bands there will come here).

Festivals are fun, in that you get to see all your roadie friends who are working for different bands. The bill on the main stage for today features: Weezer, Maroon 5, Incubus, Green Day, and R.E.M. among others. The Alternastage (2nd stage) features: Papa Roach, Mudvayne, Slipknot, and The Prodigy and others.

I finally get to meet my blogger-in-arms Aron from 'Parking in Bitterman's Circle'. Great guy, unfortunately not much time to hang as this is the first day and there's alot of work to do. Run into my pals Skip, Bobby S., Andy B., Urei, and get to meet some of the R.E.M. crew who I only know through phone and email. R.E.M. is still using the pedalboards and power supplies I sold them a few years ago!!

Load in at 9am and stake out a spot in the downstage right wing. Lots of strings to change and cables to solder, etc. In between work I get to check out Weezer, who I've never seen. They pull off a killer set.

It starts raining during Incubus' set. So I cover my guitars and stand offstage in my raincoat. Luckily it clears by our set and the show goes off without a hitch. As soon as we're done packing the truck I head up to catch some of R.E.M. and that's when it really starts pouring. I must give it up to Stipe and Co. as they keep playing, even though they are all soaking wet. They sound great too.

Back to the bus for aftershow food and some hanging out before finally falling into bed around 1am.

June 4 Rock Am Park Festival, Germany

Wake up and hour late today. Didn't sleep too well on the overnight ride. Today's show is on the site of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, in fact our buses are parked in front of the podium Hitler used for his speeches (Zeppelin Grandstand). Kinda Strange.

Get to load-in in progress and setup in the same spot as yesterday. All the bands are the same today. After setting up, make the long trek to catering and eat some breakfast that's not too bad. Unfortunately at these festivals we aren't using our own catering :( Stop by the Alternastage on the way back to see my buddy Sol and end up also running into my pals G-Mony, Andre, and Grape.

Back at the main stage I agree to tune some guitars for my pal Bobby since his gig with Weezer involves him playing as well as teching. We have fun and it's another amazing set by Weezer. No rain today, and since we're on an hour early, it's light during the entire set. Show goes well, even though they changed the setlist and neglected to tell me and Hans. We find out in time to get our guitar changes right, so all is good. After loadout I head over to the Alternastage and catch a little of Slipknot's set, just to see the spectacle ;)

Off to bed early, but wake up an hour later to give my passport to the driver.

June 5 Prague, CZ Show Day

Today is the first of our headlining Euro shows (Yay!!). Wake up and head into the arena and have breakfast in our own catering. Check some email from my powerbook, then it off to the shower and then load-in. Set-up and do some more soldering and then start typing these last three days to upload to the blog. Put my BMX bike together and ride it around a little. Our keyboard player comes by and takes a spin too. Then back into the road case with it, as I don't think there's room in the Euro Bus bay. Eat some delicious pasta for dinner, I love our catering staff. Show goes well, great group of kids. Load-out and back to the bus for aftershow hang, some of the crew are drinking Absinthe, looks like green rubbing alcohol to me. No thanks. On the ride out of town our bus driver gets pulled over, guess the Czech police need the $$$.

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