Author Archives: Mark Knopfler

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 14th 15th September 2019 – Woodinville WA

Chateau Ste, Michelle winery is probably Washington’s largest and most successful but what sets this place apart are the outdoor concerts which take place throughout each Summer. Producing over 2 million cases of wine each year, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, and Riesling, the winery has been in existence since 1954. Over the years, many Washington winemakers have gotten their start working for Chateau Ste. Michelle. Promoting these concerts for 25 years now, Dave Littrell has looked after us many times here and his invitation for golf the other day was both kind and memorable. The dressing rooms are housed in a separate house from the concert area, lovely rooms, great kitchen, dining area and a collection of several beautiful Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.

Here we are with only a handful of shows left on this incredible trip. Coming now toward the end of the season here, we were all looking at the forecasts carefully. Remarkably, and considering it’s been so wet in Seattle this week, our 2 shows here were both dry (almost). Show 1 was overcast, humid and we managed to get through the set dry but as soon as we started the encores, we noticed the rain coming. This seemed to excite the crowd as opposed to dampening spirits. Our driver this week, whose name is Fletcher (we now call each other ‘Fletch’) said that people from here LOVE rain and respond with joy when they get wet. Rather like plants. “Seattle, You’ve got to love the rain”.

As soon as we left the area in our customary ‘runner’ the heavens opened and the rain didn’t let up until the crew arrived to set up the gear again for show number 2. Our crew are hugely experienced and know all too well the havoc adverse weather can wreak on our instruments so they literally stripped the back-line and put everything back on the trucks. Whilst they were doing that, the band were back at the downtown hub-tel, and ready to walk across the road to one of our favourite pubs on the road, the Pike Brewery. The beer is just perfect, especially after a gig, particularly one called ‘Nellie’.

The next day we all wok to a typical Seattle morning, low cloud and perpetual rain. The view across the sound was a wall of grey but as the morning went by, it started to clear and by the time we arrived at the winery, it was dry. The gear was all set up and we decided not to sound check. The catering is always top notch and not having really eaten at all, I dived into a fabulous home cooked Paella.

Evening was upon us once more and doors opened at 5pm. Mark asked Mike and John if they would play an opening set, just as they had done in Turin. They obliged and played a mesmerising folk set of around 30 minutes. John, rushed back to the house, where the dressing rooms are located and still found time to prepare everyone’s Lemon, Honey and Ginger teas. Yes, we still do that!

As the clouds dissipated, I decided to take a few selfies with the band, the thought of not seeing these guys in a few weeks compelled me. We took to the stage once more to what was now a lovely evening. No rain even threatened. It was humid though, which made guitar necks a little sticky. An occupational hazard for outdoor shows. That explains the talcum powder often seen on the back of Mark’s Les Paul necks.

Under clear skies we romped through the set, the European contingent were here in full force and were determined to enjoy themselves in the front rows, no doubt adequately lubricated on Chateau Ste, Michelle’s finest offerings. Lovely to see. Before we knew it, we were in cars again and heading back into Seattle where Pike’s bar waited. It was only 9:30pm when we headed out which left us 2 and a half hours before closing time. Dangerous!

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 13th September 2019 – Portland OR

Portland, Oregon is one of my favourite places to come in the US. Partly a fascination with the Hood River (a tributary of the Columbia River) and its nuclear wind potential and partly everything else. ie. Beer, Wine and Roses. (Portland is often known as Rose City) It’s difficult to fly into Portland from the North, in daylight and not notice the range of Stratovolcanoes that form a line known as the Cascade range. The first one into view on the Port side of the aircraft is Mt. Rainier at 14,410ft. It’s a breathtaking sight even from the ground and is clearly visible even from Seattle. Then next up on the short trip today is the awesome Mount St. Helens which of course erupted in cataclysmic fashion on May 18th, 1980.

The difference between the appearance of the volcano pre-that date, and now is stark. The remains of Earth’s awesome energies clearly visualised. It is photographed below with Mount Adams in the distance. Then comes the beautiful Mount Hood on the South side of the Columbia river. Being the windiest spot on mainland America, it is a popular windsurfing destination, a location I have yet to experience. Of course it was windy today but without a day off in Portland, there’s no chance. I had arranged to meet my windsurfing friend from here Tim Ortlieb and his lovely wife Layne. Tim distributes Ezzy sails across the mainland so we always have a lot to chat about since that’s what I use. Dave Ezzy makes the best sails ever. I’m not biased. It’s a fact.

Our day off was in fact yesterday in Seattle and I had an invitation to play a round at the beautiful Sahalee Country Club with Dave Littrell, who promotes the St. Michelle winery shows we are playing this weekend. The weather was spectacular and the golf was quite good, though I say so myself. I had so much fun and walked away with one birdie and many pars. Not bad for a 15 handicapper on a tough PGA course. It was such a relief to be indoors today for sound check in Portland after the battle in Utah. We enjoyed the sound of the theatre and our system before I rushed out and met Tim and Layne. Also in town was Russ Rosner and Susan Sokol Blosser from the Sokol Blosser winery who kindly donated a few bottles of their finest. We opened a 2013 Pinot Noir on the plane after show. It was utterly delicious.

With just enough time to get changed, have the tactical coffee and readied for the show, we commenced action. Another classic show which flew by as all good things seem to do. The band left the stage and stepped outside where the cars waited to take us to the plane. There were a few autograph hunters who couldn’t understand why we didn’t stop and sign. The reason is we are in ‘runner’ mode. Sorry but we don’t stop at these times. As I’ve said before, Mark will always try and stop and sign autographs, even at the FBO terminal BUT, and I must emphasise this, never when we’re eating and we do not entertain e-bayers, ie. folks who are not real fans and will sell items on e-bay and of course, haven’t been to the show. Pete came across one guy in Chicago who denied being one so Pete asked him to name one MK song. He couldn’t. Or the guy who swore it was his guitar so Pete asked him to play something. He couldn’t. Sadly they ruin it for the real fans.

Night flights of short duration pose a challenge for Flight attendants serving up dinner but this 15 minute hop was no problem for Natalie as she plied us with a Latin platter that was sumptuous, especially accompanied by Sokol Blosser 2013 Pinot. We all look at each other and shake our heads, “where did it all go right?”

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 11th September 2019 – Salt Lake City UT

Unbeknownst to us, tonight’s show was going to turn out to be one of the toughest of the tour. The weather in Denver was gorgeous and after the Oxygen-starved, euphoria of a Red Rocks show, it was time for me to visit Target once again and replace my dysfunctional Fitbutt Charge 3 device. As expected, no problem, except that they didn’t have the black version, so I took the other one, a worrying shade of purple I discovered when I got it to the room and unboxed it and thought, “yuk”. No time to return it yet again, so I thought… “I can do that tomorrow in Seattle”, plus, they carry the black in stock. I checked. I love America like that, you can return goods to stores in cities a thousand miles apart. In the meantime, there was a show to be done in between these two important Targets. Salt Lake City, home to the progeny of the great exodus of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) in 1847. The fact that the Mormons crossed the Great Plains to the East and then negotiated the Rocky Mountains with their two wheeled, hand-pulled, wagons, seeking a refuge to safely practice their religion away from the violence and the persecution they had experienced in the East, is thought provoking, especially as we cruise across America and Canada at 32,000 feet..

Take-off from Denver was swift and we climbed and headed West across the Rockies. There were thunderstorms ahead and Chris and Gary kept the bird as stable as they could as we hit the customary turbulence, experienced every time we take this route. It was 7 out of 10, bumpy although if you were to ask Natalie, she’d probably only rate it a 4. I say this as she continued to serve a delicious Lobster Cobb Salad, unhindered. We soon pulled through the grey and gazed at the vista the travellers saw when Brigham Young, the Salt Lake Valley, president of the church exclaimed…”This is the right place, drive on” back in 1847, albeit from a greater altitude. The boys took the aircraft into approach and we swung around the great Salt Flats, so colourful in the afternoon sun. Touchdown and we bundled into the limos for the drive through the city to the University campus and the venue, the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. We played here 4 years ago and we all recall the rain. It didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits though.

After an extensive sound check, we retired to the cramped dressing rooms and had a bite, catering was lovely. We’ve been looked after so well on that front, Steve Bond may have had something to do with that! We soon dressed for the show and a few of us stood outside the dressing room area and noticed the temperature dropping, not unusual as the sun was setting. Pete came along the corridor and said, It’s cold and getting colder, so we all added an extra layer. We finally took to the stage at 7:45 and everyone in the band immediately knew, we were fucked. It was freezing. The temperature had dropped further and there was now a cold breeze from the North which whistled through the stage with ease as its rear was open. By the time we got to the end of the first song, ALL our hands were numb. The extra layer was a futile attempt and did no good for any of us, with the exception of Danny who donned his French puffer jacket. Even the Galvin Green golf top I ran and got halfway through the show didn’t make much difference. I wondered if Mark would make it through the show as he was the one exposed to the worst of the breeze, at the front of the stage. Totally exposed.

Hardly a bar went by without some silent exclamation of pain from the band as fingers simply refused to operate in the unknown conditions. Everyone had to adapt to ‘plan B’… whatever that may be. The crew did their best to A, stay warm themselves, and B, bring on hot bottles and towels for the bands, hands. If we had spent a minute and actually gone out and witnessed the audience wrapping up in their winter gear we might have acted accordingly. It wasn’t exactly the scene in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ where the North eastern seaboard freezes, but it was simply, very cold. The look of shock on everyone’s face when we came off from the main set confirmed no-one got off lightly. Jim, Richard, Glenn, Mark, Mike, John, Tom and Graeme all struggled with inoperative digits for the whole show. Mark’s hands couldn’t even hold a cup of tea, which Steve so cleverly provided. We piled back on for encore number 1. We rocked as hard as we could as it was our only way to generate some warmth. Then we came back on for the final number and go through it unscathed. The end couldn’t come fast enough, I’ve never thought that before, and we were back in the limos with the heating on full blast. The 30 minute ride was only just enough to bring our body temperatures back to normal and as we got on board the plane, I was still shivering. It took me another hour before normality was restored. 2 hours later we descended into Seattle. It was a day that felt like a week. Time flies, sometimes.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 10th September 2019 – Denver CO

Mile High, or 6,450 feet (1,970 m) above sea level to be precise. This venue literally ‘rocks’. It’s certainly one of the most iconic places to perform on any tour and tonight’s show was a stunner. 

It always takes a day or so to get used to the altitude in Denver, in the gym it really tells as well as simply walking down the street. The day off which proceeded the show here was mostly spent relaxing, or should I say, luxuriating, by the pool at the Four Seasons. In the evening, band and crew met at the crew hotel for our ‘tour party’. We took over the bar of the Kimpton hotel and enjoyed a rare ‘off duty’ evening with our amazing crew. We count our lucky stars to be out here, on the road, with our, not so little, family away from home.

Leaving the bar at 10pm was wise as in the past these little soirees can get out of hand. I remember the last one in Atlanta in 2015, or rather I remember the head the next morning and the consequential tough gig that followed. Most of us were in bed early ready for the day that lay ahead.

Early start and straight out to Target to buy a Heart rate monitor. The Peloton can push you hard and other band mates have advised I should know what the old ticker is up to at all times. A Fitbit Charge 3 came with me back to the hotel room. I plugged it in, it buzzed and whirred into life and asked for a software update. I complied and that’s the last I ever heard from it. Stillborn. Many visits to customer support and the Fitbutt community revealed many, many other frustrated users with defective units. Why do they put these things out when they’re not bullet-proof? Well, I know why.


Hot and sweaty after another high altitude Peloton ride, I, and the rest of the band got our gig bags ready for a 3:30 departure for Red Rocks. Our convoy arrived just as the crew were finishing their line checks and were ready for us to do an early sound check. Just as we headed to the stage, the wind picked up. Up here, when the wind blows, it’s kind of scary as the PA and lighting ‘hangs’ sway about like outdoor Christmas decorations. The sun was thankfully behind a rather large cumulonimbus that seemed to come along for our benefit. It wasn’t rain-bearing thankfully. As soon as we finished our thorough sound check, the wind died to reveal a beautiful late Summer Colorado evening. 

In no time at all the sun set. We were in catering as it got dark, the food here is always wonderful and everything on the menu was great. The closest thing to our European catering team so far on this US leg. Danny and I recorded a couple of video interviews in the keyboard department. I’ll put them together as quickly as I can. There seems to be so little time for video editing on this tour. I’m not quite sure how I did it all before. 

Getting ready for an outdoor show, it’s prudent to check the temperature, especially up here as it can get quite chilly as the evening wears on. I wandered up to the stage (the dressing rooms are below) to get a sense of it. It was quite balmy and with 30 minutes to go until showtime, it looked like the venue was packed. There was definitely a buzz in the arena which was familiar. This gig is special, for sure.

Heading to the stage with ‘ears’ in, a few of us too big breaths from disposable Oxygen canisters Steve had thoughtfully provided. House lights went out and the roar was…so…Red Rocks! What a place. What a gig. Reports coming back after-show were great and in the Four Seasons bar afterwards, the lovely Pieta Brown joined us. After one drink, at 11:30pm, the ‘Edge’ Four Seasons bar took last orders which we all agreed was utterly ridiculous. The girl behind the bar was in no mood to negotiate but Tim, our tour manager showed up just in time and called the hotel manager in who immediately arranged for another round. The barmaid was visibly annoyed, shaking her head and splashing mixers around. The Four Seasons chain has evolved, you can’t blame them, but nowadays the clientele make us look decidedly old-aged. Yes, I know we are but that’s not the point.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 8th September 2019 – Grand Prairie TX

Departing the lovely Hotel Emma, I recapped mentally on our great stay in Texas. The people have been great, the weather, hot and the food, stellar. And so it was, back in the vans and en route to San Antonio airport for the final time. We drove up to the FBO gate and as ever, Captain Calvert was waiting. The gates slid open and we pulled alongside the beautiful Challenger 850.

A 40 minute flight into Dallas Love Field airport was smooth and swift and cars were one again, airside to whisk us and our gig bags to the venue. The Verizon is another purpose built theatre, fabulously appointed and designed so when we pulled up backstage, the crew were smiling after what was an easy load-in with all 4 of our trucks being able to reverse the trailers up to the loading bays. Grand Prairie is a city within a city, situated in Dallas, Tarrant and Ellis Counties, it was annexed as a city in 1909 and since then has grown exponentially. The sprawl of urban America is no more evident than here as vast areas of prairie have been converted into a self professed ‘city of promise, a city of growth, a city of location”.

Learning that it was to be a 7pm show, plus we were to gain an hour on our after-show flight to Denver, we headed to the stage with a view to a quick sound check. Once again, our PA system was in use and the stage sounded great. Catering was lovely, albeit a bain-marie extravaganza. I had the tiniest piece of fish and 2 chips…but I did succumb to the lure of a home made Victoria Sponge Cake. Just a slither, honest. Frugal portions pre-show mean that when I get to the jet after show, I’m ready to eat a small Texan town (and I knew we were having ribs!).

Loud extraction fans were switched on during line-check which halted proceedings as they were…LOUD. The reason for this was that the air conditioning in the building could not be controlled, only turned off, and since the temperature was very cold indoors, in stark contrast to outdoors where it was 105 degrees, the solution was to open the loading bays behind the stage and switch on the ‘evac’ fans top pull out the cold air. Obviously the fans were shut down and we continued with sound check and by the time we took to the stage, the temperature was lovely and warm.

An annoyance for musicians from the UK is the temperature differences from outside to in. Air conditioning in the USA is literally everywhere and often buildings are so cold inside, you need to wear a sweater. I know what you’re saying… ‘bloody whingeing Brits’. I’d rather be hot, than cold, any day as the fingers work better.

So the final Texan show was set to be a cracker, and it was. The audience were absolutely lovely, particularly attentive. This was the first audience on the tour who waited until the very end of Romeo And Juliet before applauding. Kudos, Grand Prairie. The final few bars have several descending chords which are often swallowed by applause. We finished up and ran to the plane, our driver taking a longer route so we pulled up with everyone already on board. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the ribs. I didn’t even mind that they were cold. Stepping off the plane in Denver was the first time in weeks where a jacket was required. Cool air finally and on the run into town at 10:30pm, in the SUV I noticed lightening in the area and immediately called up the live lightening app on my phone. Sure enough as I got to my room, a cracking, but brief, thunderstorm moved across downtown Denver.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 3rd September 2019 – AUSTIN TX

Austin is a great city, it’s a simple fact. Apart from the musical influences, it is one of America’s fastest growing cities where prospects and standard of living are good. Austin is known as a ‘clean-air city’ for its stringent no-smoking ordinances that apply to all public places and buildings, including restaurants and bars. That includes vaping devices now so popular across the States.

Under cloudless skies in the extreme heat (high 90’s) of the afternoon, we left the hotel Emma for our short trip, but not before Laurie and I took a short Riverside walk. We didn’t get that far as the heat was just so oppressive, energy conservation being in mind, the show for me and an afternoon of art museums for Laurie. There is some fabulous art on display here in San Antonio both in public spaces and galleries.

Since we are presently hubbing from San Antonio, today’s flight was awkwardly short, Austin being only just over an hour drive away. Literally up and down, less than 20 minutes in the air. when we arrived into Austin, the number of private jets parked up was astonishing. Easily over 100. Our driver said he had never seen so many. The reason was the huge College ball game played out this evening. The Texas Longhorns hosting LSU. The end result was a 45-38 win for LSU. The traffic on the way into town was gnarly so our experienced team of drivers who have been looking after us in San Antonio, took the back routes and got us to the venue with little delay.

The 1970’s saw Austin’s emergence in the national music scene, with local artists such as Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Over time, the long-running television program Austin City Limits, its namesake Austin City Limits Festival, and the South by Southwest music festival solidified the city’s place in the music industry. My son Max, played the South By Southwest festival earlier this year, his first ‘working’ trip to the States.

It’s always fabulous to come to Austin and play since the fans here are extremely knowledgable, musically speaking. It’s not hard to see why. Having played this theatre before, our crew were well aware of the difficulties that lay ahead for them as our production is about 10% too big for this stage. Gavin, our monitor guy and Tim, Richard’s guitar tech had to set up off the side of stage. This was offset by the fact we were able to use our own ‘L-Acoustics’ PA tonight. It all lends itself to a club-like gig as the actual room is quite small and most people are on the balconies.

Night descended quickly and we said goodbye to ‘Willie’s’ balcony outside the dressing room and took to the stage. Great show, great crowd, all the usual. We nearly killed two electric scooterists as we left the venue who whizzed in front of our departing car without a care, something that is all too common in cities where they charge unrestricted. Luckily, our driver was being extremely cautious. At the jet within 25 minutes for the super-quick hop back to San An. Tacos and a beer and we were home. Saturday night at the Hotel Emma is clearly a scene but Tim had reserved us a private table in the amazing Emma bar and we stayed until close of play at 2am.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 6th September 2019 – Sugar Land TX

Sugar Land is known as an ‘edge’ city, set on the outskirts of Houston, the original Sugar plantations were consolidated into ‘Imperial Sugar’ in 1908 and the area remains the home to its headquarters. As we know, Sugar has certainly been used extensively in all commercial foodstuffs, none more so than here in the US. The sweet success of Sugar is well documented. No other substance occupies so much of the world’s land, for so little benefit to humanity.

Up until 1901, Texas was happily going about its business, land being fought over, French and Spanish both having a crack at ruling, becoming annexed into the US in 1845…then oil was discovered and the resulting oil boom transformed the state. The growth since then has been astronomic and the wealth is clearly visible in most areas. It’s great to be back here and our entry into the Lone Star state began with a day off. The nickname ‘Lone Star State’ signifies its former status as an independent republic, and serves as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The weather here is hot. Daily temperatures at this time of year are in the upper 90’s and air conditioning is everywhere we go. I suppose you get used to it, but the temperature differences from outside to in are extreme. The Hotel Emma is a gem, the beautifully re-purposed set of buildings once comprised a 19th-century brewhouse known as the Pearl Brewery. Much of the original machinery and artefacts were salvaged and are exhibited around the hotel. The outdoor pool is perfect and the gym is ideal. With Peloton bike, naturally.

Going out to dinner seemed to be a no-brainer for all as there was a Mexican street food restaurant across the way called La Gloria. Everyone ended up there at some point, except Glenn and Mark who went to have dinner with a well known country singer friend of Glenn’s just outside town. The Margaritas were unexpectedly pokey and it caught a few of us out. The resultant mild hangover on show day was an annoyance.

Arriving into Sugar Land on the outskirts of Houston, we were driven to the venue, a brand new beautifully designed theatre. Opened in January 2017, this is possibly the best new theatre venue we’ve encountered. The crew were extremely happy as all 4 trucks could be attached to the loading bays simultaneously making load in, and out, a doddle. The venue staff were lovely, the catering, great, dressing rooms, superb and the hall sounded fabulous AND we could use our own PA. All in all we were set for a great night. 

Rarely do we take to the stage on time these days. So many people arrive late, that combined with stringent security checking at venues these days means we usually hold for 10 minutes. This evening we held for 20. There were still plenty of folks winding their way to their seats when we kicked off but with everything ticking over beautifully, we had a great night. Texan audiences are loud and passionate. Their renowned, ‘Southern hospitality’ extends to welcoming us onto the stage. They don’t hold back.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 4th September 2019 – Atlanta GA

Chastain Park is an idyllic area situated near the Northern edge of Atlanta. The area was originally occupied by Creek Indians, near the floodplain known as Nancy Creek. Nowadays, it is the largest city park incorporating  jogging paths, playgrounds, tennis courts, a golf course, swimming pool, horse park and of course the Chastain Park amphitheater. Our departure from Nashville came all too soon and we headed to the airport and boarded the Challenger ready for the 1 hour flight South. I figured it was about time I occupied the jump seat in the cockpit for landing. It’s always an amazing experience, something that is quite rare these days of course. It really makes you want to fly a plane. Coming in on approach, we flew at 2000 feet above downtown Atlanta before making our final turn towards the DeKalb-Peachtree airfield.

Recent visits have often involved extreme weather and Georgia can be prone to rain, storms and heat at this time of year. Our visit on this trip is dominated by the heat and humidity. When we arrived at the venue the temperature was well into the high 90’s and the crew were pretty sweaty. Brent, my tech was having some issues with the rig which could have been due to auto-updates but one of the Mainstage rigs saw the interface as alien. Then another cable issue. In fact, the show was quite beset with gremlins. It happens sometimes.

Evening at Chastain was descending fast and the doors opened at 7pm. I had invited my Atlanta golfing buddy (we played last time) Morten Andersen, a bit of a local hero here, and we met pre-show for a quick catch up with his lovely wife Jennifer. 

Events such as these, ie. outdoor park venues, often have a slow walk-in and we had to delay the show accordingly. We went on 20 minutes later than scheduled at 8:20. This was definitely a slightly different type of audience as compared to recent theatre shows. I noticed a lot of people on their phones throughout the show. Whatever. By the time we got to the encores, everyone was on their feet, as has been the case pretty much everywhere. We left the area with huge cheers behind us. The local staff enabled our getaway beautifully by holding some of the strategic the exit gates until our bus convoy had passed. Police escort not required.

Knowing a 2 hour flight lay ahead, I had merely picked at dinner and consequently I was famished. Almost as hungry as Danny! The plate of Salmon with dill sauce that Natalie served up as soon as we were airborne was a sight to behold and duly despatched. 2 hours and several drinks later, we descended into San Antonio and headed for our hotel for the next few days. A complete contrast to our Nashville stay. Every detail is beautifully considered as opposed to every detail being dysfunctional or ugly. Hotels are fascinating and often an enigma. We may have a new favourite here.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 3rd September 2019 – Nashville TN

Returning to Nashville after 11 years was always going to be a shock as both Richard and Glenn, Nashville residents, said Mark and I wouldn’t recognise it. They were right to an extent but it’s still ‘Nashville’ but with heavier traffic and a vastly altered skyline. Our hotel is a new building called the Hutton Hotel situated on West End Avenue, close to our old haunt, the Leows Vanderbilt hotel. We must have stayed there for months on end over the years, when we used to come over to record Mark’s albums and before that when Mark first met Chet Atkins. Chet, of course played the major role in creating the ‘Nashville sound’ that ultimately led to Nashville becoming ‘Music City’ and the centre of the Country music scene in America.

Yesterday’s day off fell at a good time and the weather in the South is hot as High pressure dominates either side of Hurricane Dorian currently devastating the Bahamas. The Weather Channel is permanently on, revealing the sadness of a decimated island that has sustained 2 days of 185+ mph winds. Stark contrast to the heat in Nashville as a few of us headed for a visit to the wonderful Country Music Hall of Fame. We bumped into Mark’s ex publisher and great friend David Conrad outside the hotel who offered us a lift and entry into the Hall of Fame. David has been on the board for 31 years and is a respected name in town. The afternoon was spent in calm awe, looking at the fabulous exhibit displaying some of the rarest and most well known instruments and artefacts in the history of country music. Bill Monroe’s famous mandolin for example which he played his for whole career, even when an ex girlfriend broke into his house once and turned it into matchwood. Bill took it to a local repair man who spent 3 months rebuilding it. Bill went on to play it until the year he died in 1996.

My wife  Laurie is with me now and it is her first visit here in 29 years. she has many old friends in town and we all hooked up in the evening for a fabulous dinner in one of the few restaurants open on Labor day night, whilst some of the guys went to 3rd and Lindslay to see Paul Franklin and Vince Gill in the Time Jumpers, THE hot Monday night ticket.

After waking on show day, it was time to see if either of the two Pelotons were functional in the gym. One was. Then it was breakfast in the hotel restaurant with the only recognisable thing on the menu being called a ‘Truck stop’. 2 eggs with Bacon, Hash Browns and a side of toast. It’s a strange hotel that is trying to be ‘boutique’ and failing slightly. As always though here in Nashville, the staff are great even if their tools fail them.we were off to the venue at 4:15 for a sound check on the hallowed stage once again. A union curfew meant the crew were behind but as always, we caught up and the stage was set. We’ve played quite a few shows here but for about half of the band, this was a new experience. Something about playing on this stage elevates the performer, well that’s the way I see it and Mark was clearly buoyed by this, plus the fact that the love and support coming from the audience which included a whole host of friends was palpable. Paul Franklin, Vince Gill, Emmylou, Jason Isbel, Tim O’Brien, Chuck Ainlay, David Conrad, Paul Kennerley to name but few.

Never have we played here and not felt this extraordinary feeling. After show, we hung at the venue and chatted with friends for as long as we could, or until they had to get home. Then a few of us headed to the only bar still open near our hotel, ironically, the Vanderbilt. One more drink and a toast and we were done in Music City once again.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.


Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 1st September 2019 – Chicago IL

We’ve been in Chicago now for almost a week so it feels nice that we’re finally playing the show here tonight. The now quite familiar Chicago theatre is another fabulous venue, one of the first theatres built in what is now theatre-land, Chicago.

In keeping with the regime, the Peloton session was first up, then brunch across the road with Danny. Eggs Benedict for 12 dollars as opposed to 60 dollars in the hotel seemed like a good idea. Back to the room to pack for a 3pm bag call when the bags would be taken to the plane for tonight’s after show flight down to Tennessee.

Nearly time to say goodbye to the Peninsula once more as I crammed the strewn contents of my room into the Large Briggs and Riley. It never looks like it will fit, but amazingly it does. Teapot, kettle, shoes, electronics. It all fits.

Downstairs in the lobby, the band were assembled, 20 minutes before scheduled departure. Not once on the entire tour has anyone been even remotely late. Unlike the old days. Our SUV-minibus convoy had us backstage at the venue in 5 minutes and we all headed to catering for the ritual that is soup.  Another great catering team were in place here and dinner was delicious, although I had a ‘Sparrow’s’ portion. This is the way ahead for me these days, along with the rest of the band. Carrying a full stomach on stage just isn’t an option these days. Plus we’re going to eat later on the plane, so we may as well be hungry when we do.

Yet another wonderful, rather vocal audience greeted us as we took to the stage for the show. These theatre shows are so much fun, we get to really see the faces of at least the first ten rows. The expressions on people’s faces can be fun to watch. Soon, we were all back in the vans, sitting in pre-Labor day traffic. Even at 11pm, the highway was crawling. 30 minutes later we got to the plane and dined on G&T’s, Roast Chicken and laughter. Nashville for the first time in a long time was an exciting prospect. A day off too before one of the most anticipated shows, the Ryman Theatre.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.