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graceGrace's Tour Blog

by Grace Stumberg

Italy, Spain & Portugal - March 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Lisbon, Portugal

lisbon Oh, boo! It's the last stop of the tour :( It was hot, hot, hot here! The sun was out, and of course, I chose to wear all black and boil myself - haha! We woke up on the bus and traveled straight to the hotel to take showers before going to the venue. Might I add, it's pretty sad when you can’t figure out how to work the hotel shower! Haha!

After getting cleaned up, we headed over to the venue. It was gorgeous. Absolutely huge and historic. I know I had mentioned that the Santiago de Compostela crowd was the loudest, but now I have to say that this one definitely was! This evening was special, not only because it was the last show for a while, but it was the only night on this tour that Joan played "Forever Young." I absolutely love that song. Many guests cheered, and some were crying, myself included. It was a beautiful finish to an awesome tour.

On this tour, our visits to some places were short lived, and other locales we really got to know. Thank you all, Joan Baez fans, for being there. See you this summer in Instanbul, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and England!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Porto, Portugal

porto Everyone was pretty tired from dancing the night before. We all awoke in the parking ramp of The Yeatman hotel. Our rooms weren’t ready yet, as we stumbled through the belly of the hotel. Chris, our bus driver, said, "Yeah, I don’t think anyone's checking out because of the view." I thought he was being sarcastic. Once I got to the top of the stairs and looked out, for the first time in a long time, my breath was taken away. It looked like someone just slid a painting in front of my face. It didn't look real, but it was! Each of our hotel rooms looked over all the ports, bridges, and restaurants. Many of us walked along the water and soaked up the sun for the few days we were there. Joan, Gabe, Emma, and I went to a local restaurant to hear some local Portuguese music. It was all a capella with two singers, a guitarist and Ude player. Dinner was quite good, too. Joan got her favorite meal - a whole fish!

Porto is definitely on my list of best places to visit. It is beautiful and astonishing. I was sad to leave the hotel and travel to the concert venue - haha! But Joan put on a killer show, and her Portuguese was perfect! At the end of the show, the stage was covered by roses thrown from the balconies.

Thank you, Porto, for being such a wonderful audience and place. Hope to see you again!

Saturday, March 28, 2015
Palacio Congresos
Santiago de Compostela, Spain

santiagodecompostela Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see to much of Santiago de Compostela because we drove straight to the venue from Gijon and then had to leave for Porto shortly after the show. I did walk around town a little bit and we ate octopus at a local restaurant!

Joan stayed on the bus and practiced her Galician. I must say the crowd on this night was the loudest, most energetic crowd I have ever heard in the years I have worked for Joan! It was great to be part of the show.

Afterwards there were many, many fans in the parking lot because the bus was parked there. Once the crowd cleared out, Joan, Gabe, Dirk, Ian and I piled in a cab and went dancing at a local bar. They were playing the best old soul we had heard in a while. Tower of Power was our last hooray before heading back to the bus to depart for Porto.

Thanks, Santiago, for bringing the cheers to the show. Hope to spend some more time there in the future!

Friday, March 27, 2015
Teatro de la Laboral
Gijon, Spain

gijon Gijon was a very beautiful city. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see much of it because I came down with a nasty cold. I visited the steam room in the hotel, drank loads of tea, and watched a scary airplane movie on the bus. My favorite - not really! I figure the only way I’m going to get over my fear of flying is if I immerse myself in it. The movie wasn’t that great though, hence I can’t remember the name of it - haha. I did eventually venture out to take a few pictures of the ocean, but had to go back because my umbrella had blown inside out along with everyone else due to the horrible weather!

The show in Gijon was much nicer than the elements. The venue resembled the Hogwarts school from the Harry Potter books, and the sound was amazing. Joan put on a great show and even tried out some Asturian on the crowd! They very much appreciated it, as noted by their standing ovation at the end of the concert.

After the show it was straight off to the next concert city, Santiago de Compostela!

Monday, March 23, 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Teatro Nuevo Apolo
Madrid, Spain

madrid We had the privilege of spending a few days in Madrid. The weather was pretty chilly and windy for most of our stay. On the first day we arrived I laid down in my hotel bed to take a nap and awoke to a long, loud parade marching outside for workers' rights. It was actually quite chilling. I hung out of my hotel room window just watching it go by. The leader's voice was cracking and the people would shout on his command. I also noticed how amazing it was that the police were actually escorting the marchers, protecting them, while the people kept order and marched peacefully. This is something that has seemingly gotten lost in most places today. Anyways, it was powerful.

That night, most of us met up for a drink or two in the town. We visited a karaoke bar - I sang some Adele and the 4 Non Blondes. I also sang a duet with Dirk! - "Tuesday's Gone With the Wind." Madrid is a very beautiful city, and we all got our tapas fill over the next couple days at the local market.

Joan wasn’t feeling too well, so she stayed in her hotel room to rest up for the concerts, which went very well. We did two back-to-back concerts, both sold out. Joan brought a new song to the table on both these nights called "A Galopar," during which the audience chanted along. She still amazes me by pulling out songs in other languages on the very same day she steps into the town.

It was a wonderful two shows in Madrid. Thanks to everyone that came out to make the evening very special!

Thursday, March 19, 2015
Friday, March 20, 2015
Palau de la Musica
Barcelona, Spain

barcelona What an amazing place! There were tons of high end shopping places like Chanel, Louis Vitton, and Prada. I can’t bring myself to go in those places, but boy, do they smell nice from the streets! haha! There are people that just stand outside spraying fragrances to get you to come in. On the night off, Emma and I went to see The Subways band play. They were absolutely fabulous! We head-banged and thrashed around, both waking up the next morning with sore necks. Good thing Emma’s a massage therapist! Sometimes it's nice to let your inner rockstar out.

The following day was the show day. The concert venue was absolutely beautiful! WOW! It's a place worth visiting if you’re ever in Barcelona. It had beautiful tiles, stained glass, and statues of horses and angels. The sound was HUGE. Hands down the best sound that I have ever witnessed. Both nights the crowds were so amazing and completely energetic. Many people were yelling things out to Joan on stage and singing along to almost all of the songs. Sometimes when people were yelling things out, other people would be shushing them so Joan could start the song already. It was pretty funny. After the first night's show, some of us went to an old bar where you aren’t allowed to sing or play music. The paint was falling off the ceiling and all around were dusty old liquor bottles. It was one of the places everyone says you should go while you are in Barcelona - Bar Marsella. I agree! It had charm.

It was a pleasure to stay in Barcelona and be a part of the concert magic at Palau de la Música. I'll remember it forever. Thank you, Barcelona, see you next time!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Palacio Euskalduna
Bilbao, Spain

bilbao Boy, was it gorgeous here! For the first time on this tour, I could roam around town without a jacket. Our hotel was located just behind a park and alongside a beautiful river. It was nice to be surrounded by a little bit of nature. I did a lot of walking just because the weather was so beautiful. There were tons of shops, restaurants, and people! Joan stayed in her room because she had come down with a cold. The others in the crew visited the Guggenheim Art Museum and said that it was absolutely astonishing. Emma and I roamed around the shopping area and took pictures next to the life-sized T-Rex they had behind the concert venue - haha!

The concert went very well. Again, Joan performed "Txoria Txori" as well as "El Preso Numero Nueve" and "No Nos Moveran." The crowd absolutely loved it! Joan did mention to the crowd that she wasn’t feeling well, but I honestly couldn’t even tell. She pulled through and put on a heck of a show. Afterwards, Joan signed some records, books, and took pictures with fans, and then it was onto the bus for her to rest up. While sitting there I heard knocking on the side of the bus, so I went out to politely tell the group of 5 that Joan was not coming out to sign again because she was not feeling well and had worked hard to put on the show. Also, our bus driver was sleeping and had to drive all night so it was imperative we did not disturb his slumber. I received the angry "deer in the headlights" looks, but said thank you and closed the door. Two minutes later I heard more knocking and banging. This is where I lost it. I opened the door and yelled, "Silencio! She IS NOT COMING OUT!" They still would not leave but at least they did stop banging on the side of the bus. I guess I decided to put this in the blog as a way of saying: Please understand that it is not always so simple for an artist to sign everything and take pictures. It does not mean they do not appreciate you. Sometimes they really are just tired, especially if they already have a cold. :)

Thank you to the respectful fans that attended the show and made the evening magical. Hope to come back to the wonderful Bilbao!

Sunday, March 15, 2015
Auditorio Baluarte
Pamplona, Spain

sansebastian We arrived in San Sebastian, Spain, to rainy, chilly weather and clouds! Most of us used our couple days off to locate a laundry shop and visit the ocean. The hotel we stayed in was wonderful. I am a lover of fireplaces (this hotel had one). I hope to have one in my home someday! On the first evening I spent my night in the lobby sitting by the wonderful smelling fireplace listening to music and feeling a bit more at home. On the second night most of us went out to eat tapas and visit the "old town." Ian, Gabe, and I went to find live music, but all we could find were DJ’s. That didn’t stop us from dancing! Old town is a wonderful section of San Sebastian to check out. I highly recommend it to anyone who visits San Sebastian. Also, go check out the view of the ocean!

The Pamplona show came up very quickly. We arrived just before showtime and then left straight after the show to head to Bilbao. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see anything outside of the concert venue. The hall was very big, and the crowd was wonderful! On this night Joan performed a Basque song called "Txoria Txori," and the whole crowd sang along, creating a very powerful wall of sound. It's moments like that, that remind you that no matter where you are in the world, music is truly a universal language. After the show we had to load out very quickly and head to Bilbao.

Thank you, San Sebastian and Pamplona, for being so wonderful.

Thursday, March 12, 2015
Teatro degli Arcimboldi
Milan, Italy

milan The bus dropped us off, and we all scurried into our hotel rooms for a day off. I didn't do much. I relaxed in my room, surfed the web, and I got some exercise in. For some reason I didn't feel much like exploring that day. The hotel was very nice, and the staff was very sweet. The hotel offered something called an "emotional shower," which I thought was a typo, but then I googled it to find out it's a real thing, combining aura colors and variations of water temperatures and meditation! I did not try it, but I figured I'd share it with you because you learn something new every day!

The weather was absolutely gorgeous on the day of the show. The sun was out, and it was the perfect temperature. I found myself just sitting outside, soaking up some fresh air before the concert. The stage was unlike any other stage I have ever seen before. Usually when I walk out to set a teacup out there for Joan before the show, I can see everyone and everyone can see me. However, this venue had a big gate that shut the stage off visually from the public until show time. It was odd looking! The hall itself was beautiful. One of the favorites of the crowd seemed to be "Dona Dona." Almost everyone sang along!

After the show there was an absolute wall of people waiting next to the bus. It was kind of Justin Beiber overwhelming style - there were so many people! Joan had to get on the bus and just stand in the doorway signing autographs and greeting people. It was impossible for any of the rest of us to get our luggage through the crowd and onto the bus. Joan stayed awhile and signed many autographs, but it wasn't possible for her to do them all. Someone had taped a sign on the bus, which I am assigning as this blog's photo.

Many thanks, Milano, you were wonderful!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Santa Cecilia Hall
Rome, Italy

The last time I was in Rome, I visited the Vatican and saw all the sites, but I really took it easy this time around. I relaxed in my hotel room and located a nearby gym. Emma, Joan, and I went and worked out, and before I knew it the day was over and it was time for a concert!

This was by far the craziest constructed concert venue ever. The bus was outside parked in a lot, and you had to walk through the belly of the venue and take an elevator and go all the way around the venue to finally get to the dressing rooms - haha. Needless to say we all did a lot of walking, which isn't a bad thing!

The hall was absolutely beautiful with red colored seating all the way around and up to the skies. The crowd was extremely energetic. Most of them erupted over Gabe's percussion solo on the song "Gimme Cornbread." After Joan was finished and had walked off the stage, everyone kept cheering louder and louder, so we went out to do "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Boxer" to finish off the night.

After the concert we all piled into taxicabs and went to a local restaurant where there was live music. Again, pasta and bread, and more pasta were floating around - haha. I could not take part in anymore after the amount we had for dinner also. So I had a nice beer and chatted with the locals! Joan, Gabe, and I ended up playing for some of the folks in the restaurant. We did "Long Black Veil," "Diamonds and Rust," and I sang one of my own songs called "It's No Good." It was a very fun night of music and great to meet many new faces in Rome.

Thank you everyone for a fabulous concert and stay!

Sunday, March 8
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni
Udine, Italy

udineWe drove straight from the concert venue in Bologna to the concert venue in Udine via the tour bus to put on another show!

When we arrived, we all loaded into the venue and showered. I tried to do some inroom workouts to keep my body moving, but I just got frustrated because of an inoperative foot and went to the lunch table instead. It's hard using a towel for a yoga mat! These are the things that happen on the road...haha. After that, Joan and I took a walk to a really neat little castle on a hill that had an amazing view of the mountains and city. It was a perfect little get-away to visit some nature before the show. (Check out the picture!)

It's a good thing we went for that walk because the dinner we were about to receive was going to put us all in a big food coma. I can't even tell you what it was, but mostly pasta and lavender flavored somethings with potato, onion, and cheese, which I learned was a traditional dish. It's definitely on my list of top meals I have ever eaten. After dinner we all rolled ourselves to the espresso machines to get pepped up for the show!

The crowd was very lovely. Most of the members sang along during some of the songs. The hit of the night was "Here's To You, Nicola and Bart"! Many people after the show remarked how moved they were by the whole concert. There were a ton of people at the bus after the show waiting for autographs and pictures. As always, Joan did her best to sign them all!

Thank you to everyone in Udine that attended the show!

Saturday, March 7, 2015
Auditorium Manzoni
Bologna, Italy

bolognaBologna was a very sweet city. I found the people to be very warm and welcoming just like their weather! No, I do not miss home (Buffalo, New York) this time of year, I can't handle any more snow!

On the first night in Bologna I went out and ordered myself a real italian birthday pizza and then went straight to bed. I'm telling you, 26 years old, and I just can't stay out late anymore. ;-) The next day I woke up early and did a little hotel room workout beginning at 4:45am in order to pass the time before breakfast, which I never eat. I am excited to have some sort of normal sleep schedule on this tour instead of the vampire schedule I was on back home!

On the couple days off in Bologna, I roamed around the big square where all the magicians, firebreathers, and jugglers were working. People from all over the world gathered and took selfies...on sticks. They have those now! For sale on every street corner - haha. I didn't stray too far out of the square because I am still recovering from a foot surgery! You may have noticed me hobbling on and off stage during the concert (which went very well by the way!).

Joan performed effortlessly and beautifully in Bologna, and she introduced some songs in Italian. She picks up languages very quickly and easily. It's quite amazing. After the show Joan had an extremely long line of fans that all received autographs and pictures. She remarked about how genuine and sweet many of the fans were. It was a very pleasant and bump free first show. (Photo is of Joan with some of the venue staff.)

Thank you to everyone that attended the magical performance. See you next time, Bologna!

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