Sunna Gunnlaugs

A Bass is Not a Cello – The Preface to a Tour

January 14, 2010 10:25 am | Filed under: Road Stories | Comments (2)
Tags: , , , ,

I am beginning to plan tours again. Currently I am working on booking dates for June in the US and starting to look to Europe for fall. I am also trying to finish up the recording I made in New York last summer with Loren Stillman, Eivind Opsvik and Scott McLemore. As I was browsing through my tour-related files I came across a tour diary from 2003. There is so much planning and organizing that goes into booking a tour. So many details to take care of. Stressful situations come up but things always work out in the end and in hindsight become humorous. I had previously blogged about my Worst Road Trip Ever which took place during the Northeast Blackout of 2003. Following is the preface to a 2003 tour in Europe. I'll post more stories in the next days.

Tour 2003 Luxembourg | Germany| UK | >> The Preface.
Band: Sunna Gunnlaug-pno, Loren Stillman-sax, Matt Pavolka-bass, Scott McLemore-drums

BandPhoto2003Booking this tour had been relatively smooth until about a week before departure. I bought tickets from Lufthansa/United and asked if we could buy a seat for the bass. That was no problem and we figured that was more economic than renting a case, paying for storage and risking having to pay overweight also. Then we started to hear tales of trouble from other bass players and I decided to call Lufthansa to double check. Turned out that they had a size limit of 5 feet for instruments on board and hadn't realized that a bass was not a cello. No big deal I thought. We'll just get a flight case so I asked for a refund for the seat. They said "nicht möglich".  To which I replied "is too" and then things got ugly. I finally threatened to refuse the charges through my credit card company and that seemed to help them come to their senses. We borrowed a case from a friend but now I had to deal with the issue of shipping the case from Lux to London since we were flying into Lux from New York via Frankfurt but out of London back home. On top of this trouble one of our gigs in the UK got cancelled 'cause the promoting organization went bankrupt. $2000 vanished from my budget.

I called Lufthansa and found out that shipping charges would be around $350.  I thought that was a lot so I called FedEx thinking I could ship by ground.  After having spelled Luxembourg and London to the operator, she told me I could not ship within the UK.  I said "but I'm shipping from Luxembourg not the UK."  She asked "What country is that in?"  to which I replied "Luxembourg is the country."  Obviously confused, she asked "What is the city then?"  "Luxembourg is a city within the country of Luxembourg in Europe,"  I said. She replied "Oh, so Europe is the country!"  That's when I decided we'd ship cargo.

The new CDs arrived by express mail last minute as usually or the day before departure. Friday before departure we received the outstanding news that our flight from JFK had been canceled and we would have to fly from Newark. The thought of driving to Jersey wasn't too appealing, so I requested an earlier flight from JFK which we got.

2 Responses to “A Bass is Not a Cello – The Preface to a Tour”

  1. AUSTYN says:

    The U.S. is anxiously awaiting your tour dates!!

  2. wayne says:

    I was just thinking the other day how a typical jazz trio has way too much mass in their instruments. looking forward to the possibility of seeing you in June.

Leave a Reply