Strait Up

Two 'Sultans of Swing' re-team for national tour that includes NH stop

Special to the Union Leader
March 13. 2014 12:09AM
FAMILIAR FACES: The Straits features two former members of Dire Straits— sax player Chris White and keyboardist Alan Clark. The group will be joined by guest artist Charlie Farren. 

The Straits

Money for Nothing," "Skateaway," "So Far Away," "Romeo and Juliet," and, of course, "Sultans of Swing," are only some of the songs that comprise a long list of mega hits produced by classic rock band Dire Straits back in the day.

And, even though the group officially disbanded in 1995, the group's sonic legacy carries on thanks to The Straits, an ensemble featuring former Dire Straits sax player Chris White and keyboardist Alan Clark.

The Straits have embarked on a North American tour, and the band will be playing all the aforementioned classics and more from the Dire Straits catalog when it plays the Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center in Plymouth Friday night.

It was three years ago that White and Clark were asked to get the band back together for a benefit at London's Royal Albert Hall.

"We were approached about doing a charity gig, and we just called some mates, really, and put a band together," White said. "We thought it would be a one-off and that was it, really. But the show went incredibly well, the response was humbling, and we were asked if we could keep it going and book some more gigs. We di, and here we are three years down the line."

The Straits stellar lineup includes White and Clark, along with lead singer Terence Reis, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer Steve Ferrone, Mickey Féat, Adam Phillips and Jamie Squire. Reis is a dead ringer, a vocal doppelganger, for Dire Straits' iconic former front man, Mark Knopfler.

"Terence is amazing. Without trying, he sounds just like Mark, " White said. "And Steve and I have been mates for years; we met back when he was the drummer for the Average White Band."

Knopfler parted ways with his fellow band members on good terms, without the drama and residual ill will that often happen when bands break up. And, although White approached him about reviving Dire Straits, he graciously declined.

"I had approached him about five years back about doing a charity event and getting the band back together, and he just felt that his stuff has moved on," says White. "He doesn't really have any interest in playing the Dire Straits stuff anymore, which is fair enough really since now he has a successful solo career."

Spending so many years as a member of Dire Straits gave White the chance to be part of some incredible history-making events, including the band's Wembley Stadium performance for Live Aid in 1985.

In addition, White got the opportunity to work with the great Ray Charles.

"Getting the call to work with Ray Charles was an incredible highlight. I was taken to Paris to perform one night with him. There was such history there. He certainly changed the music industry," White said.

With so many hits to perform, White is hard pressed to settle on one particular favorite.

"There are so many atmospheric tracks so to have a real favorite, it's hard to pick, really hard to choose. But, I do love 'Romeo and Juliet' because I get to play quite a long sax solo. 'Brothers in Arms' is another killer track for me."

After an extensive tour in the states, The Straits will take their show to Russia and South Africa, as well as play some summer festivals in Europe, followed by potential dates in Australia and Canada.

As a veteran of touring, White has some specific survival skills he's developed over the years.

"Don't drink too much would be the first one," White said, with a laugh. "... If you tour a lot, you quickly realize that the key thing is just to treat everybody with respect, give everybody some space and accept that people don't want to talk all the time, everyday.

"Just let everyone kind of get on and find their own rhythm," White said.


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