Mark recently presented Sam Fender with this Atkin guitar painted by Ian Ward, as a new ambassador of The Buddy Holly Foundation, while working on a project for the charities Teenage Cancer and Teenage Cancer America. Mark became an Ambassador for The Buddy Holly Foundation in 2019
Surfacing from our self-imposed isolation, four weeks of re-ignited friendships, stories, laughs and of course, recording, we struggle to comprehend the unfolding horror in Ukraine. Our thoughts are with its people and the families who have been separated and forced to flee their homeland, many of whom are trapped. Their bravery and resistance to this invasion is inspirational, a reminder of our humanity against such inhumanity. Making music seems so immaterial in such times until I am reminded of the power some songs command over us, especially in times of hardship.
Standing at the main console, tape rolling and in record with the band ready to cut another song fresh from the mind of the song-machine that is MK, I wonder…is this the right snare and kick drum combo? Is Glenn on the right bass for the song? Is Richard ‘splanging’ through the best amplifier? Should Greg be on a lap steel rather than a pedal? Why doesn’t Danny just get on the Bongos instead of a shaker and rainstick? All these questions are soon answered as Ianto counts off and the band gets rolling. Our instincts were right, mostly.
Running these sessions with me is resident BG engineer, Rowan McIntosh, a familiar surname to many as Rowan is the son of guitarist Robbie. Alongside Rowan is Eve Morris taking ALL the pressure off me as she controls both the Pro Tools (PT) rig AND the multitrack tape machine transport. Every take is recorded both to tape and PT and every playback is aligned by Eve. (using the tape signal path means there is a delay coming back into PT as there is a physical gap between record and playback heads which needs to be compensated for after each recording) Completing the team is Edie Dellafield, making notes of everything that occurs throughout the day as well as prepping mics, headphones as well as providing a never-ending supply of coffee and proper tea.
The live takes are the most exciting as it all comes together so quickly. Quite often it will be the very first take that makes the album. The first time the band EVER play a song together will be the one you hear. It’s not that we don’t try any harder to improve things, it’s just that often the combination of heightened awareness, spontaneity and freshness is difficult to beat. More often than not, the second and third takes can seem over-confident as everyone has played it through and ‘learned’ it therefore has an air of confidence which is not always the best for the song. We will decide on a take and then the band will take it in turns to ‘scope’ their performance. This means listening whilst zoning in on a particular player’s performance with a view to repairs or possible alternate offerings, ie. an overdub or alternate takes. The way musicians play off each other in the same room is part of why we all chose to be musicians.
Mark is supporting the Red Cross and their emergency appeal to aid Ukraine and the bordering countries, where their teams have been preparing to support those fleeing to safety; as well as those taking shelter within Ukraine. Please consider donating if you are able to. Visit here more information and to donate: UkraineCrisisAppeal
We’re excited to announce that David Greig and Mark Knopfler’s Local Hero will be staged at Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT), running from 8th October – 19th November 2022 as part of this year’s Festival Season.
David Grieg’s book, based on Bill Forsyth’s iconic 1983 film, features new music and lyrics by Mark. The production will be staged in the 300-seat Minerva Theatre. We anticipate that it will be very popular so availability for the run will be extremely limited.
We are delighted to offer Mark Knopfler fans the exclusive opportunity to enter a ballot for tickets to one of the two Local Hero Fan nights – Thursday 27th October and Friday 4th November.
Registering for the ballot: The ballot for the opportunity to purchase two tickets is now open to registrations via the CFT website, and closes at midday on 15th March.
When registering, you will need to choose which one of the two performances you would like to attend, at a maximum of 2 tickets.
If you have additional access requirements please state them on your ballot entry so that the Box Office team can handle your booking directly.
Successful entrants will be contacted on 16th March with a link to the presale and details of how to book. If you have not received an email by 6pm on 16th March, you should assume you have not been awarded seats in the ballot.
Local Hero Fan Nights Presale: The fan presale then opens on Thursday 17th March at 10am for the successful entrants. Tickets are priced at £31 and £47. The seat selection will be first come, first served.
General Sale: If you are not drawn in the ballot, there is another chance to purchase tickets when public booking for all performances opens at 9am on Saturday 19th March. Any unclaimed tickets for the two fan nights will also be released for sale at this time.
Anyone who misses out in the initial booking period should continue to keep an eye on the website for ticket releases and sign up to the CFT mailing list for updates about the show and any further presentations.
Thursday 3rd March – Ballot registration opens for the chance to buy tickets to two Local Hero Fan nights – 27th Oct and 4th Nov
Tuesday 15th March – Midday: ballot registration closes
Wednesday 16th March –By 6pm: Successful ballot entrants emailed link and booking details
Thursday 17th March – 10am: Local Hero Fan presale opens for successful ballot entrants
Saturday 19th March – 9am: public booking opens for all performances
Mark’s very own gin – created in partnership with @portobelloroaddistillery as part of their Local Heroes Limited Edition range – is back on the virtual shelves. Portobello Road Gin’s Local Heroes is their limited edition series which sees interesting and evocative expressions created in partnership with a ‘local hero’ that encapsulates the spirit of their little pocket of West London. Who else to perfectly embody the bohemian nature of the area than passionate gin fan, former Notting Hill local and a man indelibly linked to the phrase Local Hero, than Mark. The recipe was developed alongside Portobello’s Master Distillery @jakefburger and the resulting liquid is a bold gin that combines Portobello Road Gin’s nine signature botanicals with lime zest, fresh cucumber peel and olive oil. This unique combination of botanicals results in a robust gin profile with strong spice flavour and heat, which is quickly tempered by the coolness of cucumber. The bottle’s label features an image of his famous 1937 14-fret National Style ‘O’ Resonator, as well as a nod to the days when Mark would sport a headband for his live performances; each bottle comes with its own miniature version in red. You can get your hands on a bottle from Portobello Road Distillery & @distilleryldn’s website (UK ONLY):HERE
…and the sweetest of reunions is finally here. Long travelled and bleary eyed, the US half of Mark’s band arrived this weekend narrowly dodging the chaos of the latest winter storm. Five Northeastern US states declaring a state of emergency moments after the boys took to the air. Glenn, Richard, Jim and Greg Leisz, our welcome guest for this album, all landed safely at a grey, mild Heathrow and were soon being ushered into the cocoon that is British Grove re-uniting themselves with their instruments…and us.
There have been many get-togethers over the years and they are always gratifying but this one is special. After a difficult two years, we have all felt the painful effects of the pandemic particularly those associated with the studio. It’s still difficult to comprehend the sudden loss of David Stewart, our studio manager in the early weeks of the pandemic. He will forever remain a part of this studio and his legacy lives on in the wonderful facility he helped create.
Many of our friends, musicians with whom we’ve recorded and toured with, have kept themselves busy with remote sessions and recording projects without ever leaving their own homes or studios, it’s far from ideal but it works and for most musicians, this has been the bulk of our work over the last two years. This month things are different.
Suddenly finding ourselves here in a band situation, recording Mark’s songs once again is joyful yet as soon as we begin playing, the time since our last times together disappears. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of playing live in a band situation even without the audience. Mark and I have been sculpting his songs in demo form off and on for of the last year in studio 2, all in preparation for this next four weeks of recording in the main room. After postponing the sessions last November, it is a great relief to get these sessions up and running.
Mark will shortly return to the studio to continue recording for his next album. The usual musicians will be involved with the addition of Greg Leisz on pedal steel and other stringed instruments. No release date is available but it is likely to be towards the end of this year at the earliest.
Congratulations to the winner of Mark’s shoes in the recent Small Steps celebrity shoe auction. Over £40,000 was raised to help deliver shoes, hygiene kits and emergency aid to children living and working in rubbish dump environments.