Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July 7th: The Lady of Lyon

On the morning of July 7th, we woke up and ate our last meal in Montreux. The quality of the hotel breakfasts has always exceeded my expectations. I must have eaten about five croissants with honey-- a breakfast staple that a good friend got me hooked on.
A great thing about Europe is the proximity of one country to another. A short bus ride landed us in the French city of Lyon, which, according to our tour guide, is the second largest city in France. The area where we stayed is very interesting (I love how that word has taken on multiple meanings). This part of the city is on an island between the Sohne and the Rhone rivers-- and is just outside of the historic area known as old town Lyon. Looking back on the drive: i know there must be some reason that justified our crossing the Rhone river over five times--I'm just having a difficult time finding it. Needless to say, we became quite familiar with the bridges traversing the Rhone.
Our hotel left many things to be desired, therefore I wasn't at all disappointed when we boarded the bus in early afternoon and headed off to Vienne. The Vienne jazz festival takes place in various locations throughout the historic city of Vienne. There are several Roman ruins as well as various other historic sites. Before our scheduled playing time, we were able to wander through and old episcopal cathedral. I wish I remembered the terms from my high school humanities class so I could describe the Gothic architecture... oh well.
We played and recorded a concert right next to a big Roman amphitheater. This was by far the best performance of the tour-- the playing situation was almost as close to the ideal situation as we can get-- although the sound guy still doesn't understand the importance of running soloists through the monitors. A point of note: we played right after a group of outstanding high-schoolers from Utah who read off of digital music stands-- maybe the school will buy those for Kenton Hall???
Immediately after our set, we after our set, we rushed up to the 9,000 seat Roman amphitheater to hear the evening concert: the Maria Schneider Orchestra. We sat very close to the stage and had a great view of the concert as well as the 2 giant projection-screen televisions. I can't remember every song they played, but amongst them were some of my favorites: Concert in the Garden, the 1st Dance from the same album, Evanescence, Sky Blue, and Hang Gliding. The concert was amazing, just as I had expected (although they didn't have a vocalist with them on this occasion). After the concert we talked with some members of the band that we already knew including Marshall Gilkes and Rich Perry. I met the tour manager as well as Ingrid Jenson who launched into a number of tour stories. She also explained to me a few tour games that they frequently indulge in that I was unfamiliar with. I have a feeling that being on tour with Maria Schneider isn't any different than being on tour with the One O'Clock. Did I mention that we are tailing them for several other festivals?
We left the festival at the early hour of 11pm because of some European law that forbids bus drivers from operating after midnight-- I don't get it. Unfortunately this made it impossible for us to see the headlining act, John McGlaughlin. Upon our return to the bus, we discovered that the driver had taken it upon himself to move our horns under the bus-- this did not sit well with anyone in the band. Anger helps your memory at times. I instantly recalled how to speak fluent Spanish (our bus driver is Italian, but speaks Spanish- sort of) as I told him to open the bottom of the bus and explained to not touch any of our belongings-- I realized that in my frustration, I told him I need to "look at my horn" rather than "look for my horn"-oops. Other people remembered some more colorful phrases.
Speaking of colorful: 2 blocks from our hotel, we encountered some locals (all while safely inside the bus) who revealed that they weren't quite what they seemed. It was relatively early when we returned to the hotel, so we decided to walk around and take in the night life of Lyon. It was too late to go to a bar (everything, once again, closes very early) and the type of a nightlife we encountered certainly didn't appeal to any of us-- or at least most of us. 1st full night of sleep on the tour.

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