Straits members still ‘Brothers in Arms’

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

Former members of the chart-topping British rock band Dire Straits will play all the group's hits live next week at the Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne.

Dire Straits alumni Alan Clark and Chris White have enlisted five seasoned bandmates to form the Straits, who will appear at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, in the casino's Willow Creek Lounge.

Tickets are $20, available at the Gift Basket inside the casino.

This will be one of only two California stops on the band's 17-date March U.S. tour.

"Just Alan and I are from the original lineup, but we've got some great musicians," White said by telephone earlier this month from the first stop in New Jersey.

The new group, formed in May 2011 for a benefit show at the Royal Albert Hall in London, also includes Terence Reis on lead guitar and vocals, Steve Ferrone on drums, Mickey Féat on bass, Adam Phillips on guitar and Jamie Squire on keyboards, guitar and percussion.

"We're doing all Dire Straits songs on this tour - 'Sultans of Swing,' 'Money for Nothing,' 'Brothers in Arms,' 'Romeo and Juliet,' all those things," White said. "We have some originals that are still being written and we hope to record them this year, then we'll put them on the Internet and if there is enough interest we'll incorporate them into the set."

Ferrone, who also has been drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for the past 20 years, is not touring with the Straits this month due to commitments with Petty. He plans to return to the Straits when they travel to Russia in April.

Ferrone, who Clark has called "probably the best rock drummer in the world," is replaced on this tour by Andy Treacy.

"He's played with all kinds of people," White said. "He brings a different thing, but it feels a little more like the Dire Straits style really, probably because he's from the UK. We're lucky to have him."

Clark joined Dire Straits in 1980 as the band's first keyboard player and went on to play on every Dire Straits record from "Love Over Gold" to their last studio album, 1991's "On Every Street," which he also co-produced with band founder Mark Knopfler.

He's also played and recorded with a long list of other artists including a four-year stint as a member of Eric Clapton's band. He was Tina Turner'smusical director for several years and played on herhugely successful "Private Dancer album. He also played on the Bee Gees' worldwide hit album "Still Waters" and recorded two albums with Bob Dylan - "Infidels" and "Empire Burlesque."

White is best known for his saxophone work on the "Brothers In Arms" and "On Every Street" world tours, as well as the "On Every Street" and "On The Night" albums and the legendary Live Aid and Nelson Mandela benefit concerts.

More recently, White appeared on two of Mark Knopfler's solo records. He's also performed and recorded with artists including Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker and Robbie Williams.

Clark and White formed the Straits for the Albert Hall gig in 2011.

"Alan and I were approached about putting a band together for charity and we said that would be lovely to do, but we know Mark won't do it - he's very clear that he doesn't want to do Dire Straits stuff and he has his own solo career going," White said.

So they tapped singer-guitarist Terence Reis - whose last name rhymes with "beige" - as the front man.

"Terrence happens to sound like Mark without trying," White said.

"We thought it was going to be a one-time thing," he said, "but the reaction was so humbling - everyone was on their feet. It was an amazing reaction after all that time. We added some more gigs, and then some more, and here we are back in America."

Clark has previously said "I'd always thought it would be impossible to replace the huge talent that is Mark Knopfler until I discovered the brilliant Terence Reis."

Born in South Africa and raised in Mozambique, Reis grew up playing guitar in the style of the finger-picking street musicians, which he would later discover is remarkably similar to that of Mark Knopfler.

Clark said they briefly considered using a lineup of ex-Dire Straits players to fill out the rest of the band, but "we decided to go our own way and hand-pick the absolute best, so Mickey Féat was recruited on bass."

Adam Phillips, who lives in a houseboat on the Thames in central London, is considered one of the UK's finest session guitarists. He's played and recorded with David Bowie, Enrique Iglesias, Tina Turner, Lionel Ritchie, Cher, James Morrison and Rod Stewart, among many others.

"He's a phenomenal, phenomenal player and we're really lucky to have him too," White said.

At age 27, multi-instrumentalist Jamie Squire is the youngest in the Straits lineup. "The musicality and vocal talents of this young musician are a hallmark of what will surely make for a stellar career of his own," Clark said.

"We've been inundated with letters of support from Dire Straits' fans," he said. "What has become apparent to us over the past three years is how much this music means to so many people and how much they've missed hearing it performed live."

The Union Democrat
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