Welcome to my Kill to Get Crimson 2008 tour blog!

My name is Isaac, 30 years old from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I have set this blog up for the purpose of documenting the journey I am taking following Mark Knopfler’s Kill to Get Crimson tour in North America, in the summer of 2008.

The North American leg of the tour, as well as my journey, begins June 24th in Morrison, Colorado and ends on July 31st in Miami Beach, Florida.

Even though I intend to write on a daily basis, publishing the stories onto the server would be tricky. After all, we’re talking about vast distances which will be primarily crossed by driving, and there is no way for me to predict the availability of Internet connection throughout the way.

So… make yourself at home and feel free to drop a comment.



Saturday, July 05, 2008

Leaving Kelowna, and Some Thoughts

It’s 9:45am now, a beautiful day. That’s one of the reasons why Kelowna is such a great resort town—the weather is warm & sunny (and dry) in the summer, which is great for touring around and have fun on the beaches of Okanagan Lake, and snowy (mostly in the mountain peaks) in the winter which means fantastic skiing (according to people I was talking to; I never skied).

I was sitting eating breakfast at Blenz Coffee, conveniently located on the north east corner of Water & Bernard. So peaceful. Then I had an idea why I’m enjoying myself so much.

Think about yourself for a second. At home. You lead your own life. You have friends, wives, husbands, girlfriends, family. The majority of us also have jobs, and there we have another array of people, some are friends, some are managers, some subordinates.

People, people around us. People we know, people we (mostly) like.

Each one of those people in our lives is a source of enjoyment one way or another. But also—and this, a lot of people neglect to mention—each of those people is a source of feedback.

Those feedbacks, whether we admit it or not, affect us. “No man is an island”; our values are gradually shaped and fine‐tuned according to feedbacks we get from our environment. True, people also have internal motives and characteristics that are independent of anybody else, but it’s the fusion of those “internal” principles and the feedback from our environment that makes us who we are; what we think; what we consider “good” and “bad”.

One main reason why I’m enjoying myself right now is because I am completely alone and receive hardly any feedback from people I know, and I know a lot of people. I am a stranger in wonderful places, watching the world go by as I am only taking a passive role in it. Being in such a position helps me better understand and further explore what it is that I want from my life; how I want to spend it; create completely independent connections and friendships with people I have never met in my life. In short, just being myself, looking at the world through completely transparent and colorless lenses, not masked by any filters such as work and personal life.

Most of the important conclusions and decisions I’ve made during my first 30 years of living were made when I am completely alone, disconnected from any frame and context. Those decisions help me strengthen my belief in what I value as well as my desire. It helps me think clearly and behave naturally, without being categorized by any means.

When writing in this blog, I would like to provide you, the readers, with my view of the adventures I am going through, completely unfiltered by any filter. I can’t, and don’t want to, do it any other way.


“Same Sun” in Kelowna

One of the purposes of my blog is to be useful. So, I thought, if any of you happens to stay in Kelowna’s “Same Sun” hostel, perhaps you could use this post to better prepare for your stay.

The private rooms of “Same Sun” offer important facilities, which is good because it means you have to bring less things with you. Following is a comprehensive, detailed list of items you get in a private room ($75/night) with a shared bathroom:

  1. Bed.
  2. Trash can.

Now, I have to mention that, at some level, I feel bad with myself. I don’t like asking for things, and I feel embarrassed when people go out of their way to make me feel better. I feel bad for not calling the hostel ahead of time to let them know that I travel light, and really, I don’t need any special features in my room. They could have spared the trash can—I eat outside and really have nothing to throw away.


Friday, July 04, 2008

Prospera Place, Kelowna, BC

So I woke up this morning at 8:30am, after catching some 6 hours of much needed sleep. I was awake for approximately 24 hours straight before going to sleep. Surprisingly enough, I felt quite alert.

It is always hard for me to wake up knowing that I have to leave Vancouver. This morning was no different. I replied to a few emails and some blog comments (thank you, guys, for taking the time to read my blog), then went on to fix the sofa bed on which I spent the night and tuck my entire earthly belongings into the backpacks.

One of the emails was from a guy named Morten, who appreciated my blog and invited me to spend the night in his house in Vernon, which is about 50km away from Kelowna on the way to Calgary, which would be perfect for me. The problem was that the location I reserved a room in (knowing in advance that the weekend is going to be very busy in Kelowna) had a 48 hours (!!) cancellation policy. I called them and begged, to no avail. I ended up meeting Morten in the venue, as well as his wife and a few friends, more on that later.

We (Joyti and myself) left at about 11:00am for breakfast. When I’m in British Columbia, I make it a habit to visit White Spot at least once a day, as I find the food there phenomenal. Joyti, knowing Vancouver as the back of her hand, drove us to what she described “the best White Spot in town”, which is located on Marine Drive, a few minutes drive east of Boundary Road (which makes it Burnaby, I believe). Joyti was absolutely right—this was one amazing facility, and the food was so good looking and tasting that I’m really sorry I didn’t take a picture. I had some dietary salad (which was very good, actually), and we left to the airport, from where I was going to rent the car.

It was very hard bidding Joyti farewell. Joyti and I go a few years back, but never had the opportunity to actually spend some time alone together (you know, myself being about 5,000km away). I realized how thankful I should be for having Joyti a part of my life. Joyti, if you’re reading this (and I know you do!)—it was an absolute pleasure! You made my stay in Vancouver fantastic, and I enjoyed our talks very much. Can’t wait to see you again!

I already felt bummed to no visible end for having to leave Vancouver so soon. The knowledge that I have to now start driving a compact car all the way to Toronto, plus an extra 2,000km or so in the USA, hasn’t done much to lift my spirit. I knew what I had to do in order to make me feel good again. I just knew it. And as everything in this trip, I let nothing (let alone price) hold me back; so I left the Vancouver airport with an almost‐brand‐new Chrysler Sebring, the convertible version of course.

That was my first time driving in beautiful British Columbia in a convertible. My sweet Moses, the difference that it makes!

I didn’t have much time to spend on the way so I skipped my usual stops in Chilliwack and Bridal Falls, two amazing places that I always visit when I’m driving east of Vancouver on the Trans‐Canada Highway. Then I got to the town of Hope (yes, it’s an actual town named “Hope”. One of the Rambo movies had some shots done there), which is a lovely, very underrated little town completely surrounded by magnificent, mist‐covered mountains. Every time I’m in the area, I take the time to go to visit the Fraser River, sit there for about an hour—sometimes playing my guitar—before moving on. But today, time being my enemy, I had to restrict my visit to only accommodate a quick bite.

And when in British Columbia, a quick bite means only one thing: White Spot’s Triple‐O burger. I believe I wrote about it in one of my earlier posts. I am an absolute sucker for White Spot’s Triple‐O burger. The burger itself is pretty much the same as everywhere, however the difference lies in the “Triple‐O sauce”, which gives the burger its name. I believe the ingredients of that sauce are kept secret, but one thing I can tell you for sure—it is not dietary at all… but it is very, very tasty.

It took me less time to devour the burger, the side salad and the drink than to wait for the order to arrive. I was very hungry, and I knew that I can’t make any stops anymore if I want to make it to the show.

The town of Hope appears to be covered by nasty black clouds approximately %99 of the year. Today was no different, and it was a bit cold as well, but not cold enough to make me reinstate the roof. I drove for about an hour, and then the sun came.

Oh, words cannot express how beautiful the way is. Even the toll freeway is beautiful. You find yourself cruising 130–140 km/h in a perfectly shaped road, simply because the speed limit of 110 km/h doesn’t make any sense at all. And the road goes through mountains, rivers, lakes… you name it. It is for this reason that driving hundreds of kilometers in British Columbia feels much quicker than driving hundreds of kilometers anywhere else. It is simply gorgeous.

I should note here that the roads of British Columbia are no strange to me. I used to live in Vancouver for four months during 2005, and I frequent the area at least twice annually for hiking & camping. But these roads are never boring.

I arrived at Kelowna at about 6:30pm and checked in. The location I stay in is called “Same Sun”. “Same Sun” is a chain of backpackers’ hostels which operates many successful locations in Canada. I got a private room with a semi‐private bathroom (shared between two rooms).

I didn’t have much time to spend in the hostel, so I changed quickly (to my usual concert attire; I insist not to change my shirt unless Guy Fletcher changes his first. Lets see who caves first) and stormed out of the hostel, only to realize that I have not the faintest clue where I’m heading. I have never been to Prospera Place before, and my knowledge of Kelowna is really limited to the camping areas as well as a few White Spot locations. Shuffled back to the hostel and got some quasi‐useful advice from the receptionist, who seemed to know the general direction but appeared to lack the distinction between driving time to walking time. So a “2 minutes walk” (according to him) ended up actually being a 20 minutes walk, during which I had to ask a cute barista in “Blenz” for directions a bit more accurate than “go there” (“Blenz” is a coffee shop chain that exists in three areas: British Columbia, Japan and United Arab Emirates. If you find this baffling, senseless and outright bizarre, it’s because it really is. At least they have some decent espresso).

Eventually I arrived at Prospera Place, which turned out to be a hockey arena. The venue looks nice from the outside, and well organized in the inside (referring to the facilities, not the arena itself), but at the inside—a mere hockey arena that is really not that special. I had a very good seat (floor, row 1, seat 25—right in the middle), however, similarly to the show in Berkeley, there was a fence between the front row to the 7 feet tall stage—again, makes little sense but hey, there may be factors I am not aware of. Overall, the distance between first‐row seaters and the stage was about 2 meters.

Jesca Hoop gave a good show. The sound in her show was a bit odd, at least from the front row—something in the speakers must have been a bit off. Her lovely voice covered for that. It appears that Jesca gains more and more confidence as the tour goes, and communicates better and more freely with the crowd. I wrote it as a reply to one of the blog comments before, and I’d like to repeat here: Indeed, Jesca’s music is entirely different than Mark’s, and whoever is going to the show expecting an opening act that resembles Mark’s style is bound to be disappointed. However, music, as all arts, is a matter of taste. I just happen to like it; however, more than I like her music, I adore her for adopting her own style, going on stage as an opening act for a worldwide huge artist, knowing how demanding the crowd’s expectations are, and simply doing a great job doing what she wants to.

Went for a quick drink during the intermission between the two shows and as soon as I got back I heard my name being called. Morten was calling me, and even though he was sitting within a meter from me, it took me some good 15 seconds to locate the source of the voice calling my name. Morten was there with his wife and a few friends, who I was very happy to meet. Morten is a photographer who takes some mean shots, some of which were incorporated into Guy’s “Shangri La” tour diary (the show in Vancouver, which was the last show on that tour). We talked for about 10 minutes—I love meeting great people along the way, and that bunch was a really nice one—and then returned to my seat.

Paul Crockford shortly arrived at the stage, promising hell & fury to people who intend to tape the show. Apparently that didn’t help much as I noticed Mark later pointing at some guy on the front row.

Then the band came and were accepted very well by the crowd. It turned out to be Mark’s first appearance ever in Kelowna, which was not surprising in the slightest as Kelowna is a resort, tiny little town that is not known for its awesome venues.

Guy wore the same shirt as always. Mark insists that Guy’s showing up with a clean shirt, but I simply can’t understand how. Unless he owns multiple copies of the same shirt. Washing that shirt after each show would most likely result in the shirt being transmuted to dust already as it appears to be made of a rather thin fabric.

OK, away from Guy’s wardrobe.

The show was great. Admittedly, being the venue itself a rather boring one, I didn’t expect for much; however the sound was excellent, and so was the lighting. We enjoyed a really cool show, with the usual set list minus the Song for Sonny Liston.

The guys seemed to enjoy themselves, continuing the trend of increased level of improvisation which happened to work very well tonight.

During the performance of “The Fish and the Bird”, coming the second verse, I was expecting some sound but was surprised to not receive it. The sound I was expecting was Richard’s brilliantly tremolo’d chord on the Strat introducing the second verse. It turned out that something went completely awfully wrong with either the guitar or the amp (or any of the million components in between. Richard’s floor gear is very impressive). Attempts by Richard and the stage workers to fix the problem have failed, so the song went on without Richard’s guitar work. The song still sounded very good, however, being in all shows so far, I got a clear demonstration of how fulfilling and brilliant Richard’s guitar tone is. I really, really missed that chord and the chords that were supposed to follow.

It goes without saying that whatever the problem was, it went away once the next song started playing.

Short time after the concert has started, two fellows sitting right behind me, equipped with some considerable amount of beer, started talking and just forgot to stop. That pissed me off to no apparent end. Also, some people sitting right beside me started talking during the performance of Marbletown, and simply refused to stop, even through my much awaited part—the amazing interlude. I would need a really thick English thesaurus to find all the words that I wanted to say to them. I wasn’t impressed at all.

Concert ended 10:30pm after the usual four encores. I bid Morten, his wife & friends goodbye and started walking back to the hostel.

Kelowna’s night life appears to be great. Too bad I’m alone in here.

That’s it for tonight. A long drive awaits me tomorrow to Calgary, but hey, I’m crossing Banff tomorrow, the amazing Canadian Rockies are going to surround me… I have no complaints.

Talk later,


Nashville Show

So I ended up buying a ticket to the Nashville show through Ticketmaster.

There was a good ticket on sale in eBay but I missed it. Regardless, the price was more expensive than the face value + shipping / handling, so even if I didn’t miss the window, I’m sure I wouldn’t win that bid as I would offer not much more than the face value. There are way too many scalpers out there, working the job that is, for me, one of the lowest most despicable form of earning income.

The ticket I got, anyway, is a really sad, gloomy ticket. Balcony, section 9 (far left), seat 5. I’m not sure I’ll even get to see the stage. If anybody comes across a better ticket or has one to sell, please let me know.

A posting about Vancouver will follow later on today—I have written a part of it already as a draft but I need to get going to get my new rental car and start driving to Kelowna.

Talk soon,


Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, BC

Ah! At last! Beautiful, super, natural British Columbia.

I arrived at the train station, and after about 20 minutes waiting in line for customs & immigration, during which the immigration officer refused to believe me that I’m following a tour all over North America, I am back in Canada.

Of all cities I’ve been in so far in my 30 years of living, Vancouver is the city to be in, live in, get old in and (potentially; I don’t know for sure) die in. Even though the night before I barely slept for one hour, the very sight of Vancouver’s skyline, the mountains and the ocean has recharged my weary bones, muscles and brain with a huge shot of adrenaline.

I first arrived at Vancouver six years ago, as part of a trip I took to Canada when I still lived in Israel. After spending a week or so in the Toronto area, I decided to hit some natural scenes. Asking around (this is the time to note that I had no clue what Canada is and what it consists of, except for the names “Toronto”, “Montreal” and “Vancouver” which I really believed are three cities that are really close to each other), I figured that in order to see nature at its best I’ll have to fly to British Columbia, which I did a few days later. Ever since the day I arrived at Vancouver, I knew that Vancouver is the place in which I would want to spend my life. And ever since, I made it a habit to visit Vancouver & the west coast twice a year.

Vancouver simply has it all, and now, with the 2010 Winter Olympics fever, the city is quickly growing to be a world‐class city in every measure.

It has mountains.

It has green—a lot of it.

It has Stanley Park and English Bay, two areas that simply beg to be discovered by foot / bicycle.

It has Kitsilano, which is an upscale neighbourhood that effectively has its own beach—a beach so pretty and so amazing—hell, you can see the city’s skyline from that beach!—that you really envy whoever is lucky enough to live there, especially the ones living in those multi‐million dollars houses a stone‐throw from the beach.

It has West Vancouver, which is located across the bridge and to the west, and just happens to be the most expensive postal code in Canada. I drove there a lot, it is truly amazing.

It has endless hills and valleys.

It has highway 99 going through its northern part, continuing all the way up to Whistler (the “sea to sky” highway), in what makes one of the most scenic, breathtaking drives on the planet, rivalled only by the Icefields Parkway (also in Canada; that’s the highway connecting Banff and Jasper, and going through the Rocky Mountains), the Cabot Trail (an amazing piece of drive that encircles Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia—also in Canada) and—so I’ve heard—the famous highway along Australia’s east coast (forgot its name).

It has all types of food from any country you can possibly dream of. People claim that the sushi served in Vancouver is much better than the sushi served anywhere else on the planet, including Japan.

It rarely snows there (although rains quite a bit).

No wonder why so many people move to Vancouver.

Anyway, back to the subject.

My great friend, Joyti Bharaj, picked me up at the train station. Joyti and I go a few years back, we met each other when I was looking to switch jobs four years ago. We became great friends, and she is one of the smartest, bravest, most sophisticated and prettiest women I have ever had the chance to know. Over the years, us being 5,000km apart, we mainly kept in touch via the Internet, rarely met—but still maintained great friendship.

Joyti took it on herself to be my hostess in my day in Vancouver. She took a day off her immensely busy schedule (she is the busiest person I know, period) and we had great, great, great time together.

We started off by satisfying our mutual craving for food. She suggested (and I followed) we go to Cardero’s, which is an amazing restaurant right on the water, nearby Canada Place (which is now under heavy construction, probably renovating for the winter Olympics. Actually, the entire city appears to be under construction at the moment). I followed her advice and ordered the wild salmon dish, which turned out to be the tastiest piece of fish I have ever, ever let into my mouth.

Then we went to Cafe Artigiano, right by the harbour, and got ourselves some good coffee for the way. Cafe Artigiano is (rightfully) considered the best coffee place in Vancouver.

Weather was great so we drove to Kitsilano’s awesome beach. Oh, how I love that beach. I have sweet memories from that beach. It was sunny so we found ourselves sitting by a huge log on the beach, talking for about two hours about everything that matters. The soothing sound of the waves, and the phenomenal view of downtown Vancouver as well as the amazing houses of West Vancouver, made me feel in heaven. It was so great.

We became hungry again so Joyti suggested that we hit some sushi. As always, she claimed to know the best place in town for Sushi. We went to some place in Kerrisdale’s Village. I forgot its name (Joyti, can you please comment and provide the name of that place?), but will never forget the sushi. One word: phenomenal. These guys know their sushi. It’s super fresh, tastes like heaven. Definitely a place to hit more than once in a lifetime.

Went to Joyti’s place and changed, then left for the show. It’s a short drive from Joyti’s house to the Joyce Skytrain station. The Skytrain is Vancouver’s subway, so named because its mostly above ground in what seems and feels like a mellow roller coaster (think about Las Vegas’ Monorail system). It is also completely automatic, there’s no driver for that thing. Takes you to all important places in town in matter of minutes. Within 5 minutes I arrived at Granville Station, which is a short walk from the Orpheum Theatre.

Got a glimpse of downtown Vancouver and felt like planting myself in there. What an amazing downtown area.

I arrived at the venue about 30 minutes before Jesca’s opening act. Very small, intimate venue, but beautiful, both at the inside and the outside. It was a bit hard to see the decor at the inside; perhaps it was something a bit off with the lighting, or maybe it’s just supposed to be that way, but the place seemed to be rather dark.

I was seated at the front row, very close to the center. The distance between the front row and the stage was about 1.5 meters, and stage was about 1.5 meters high, which was excellent. No barrier between the front row and the stage—very good.

There came Paul with the regular “no recording” policy. I have decided that, at the next time I see him, I will just have to ask him where he buys those shirts.

The show was smooth, very well orchestrated, with the standard set list. The band gave a hell of a show, the sound was excellent and so was the lighting (as far as the stage goes; I would be much happier if somebody set some lights on the venue’s decor so we can see it). One of the best performances so far.

Mark gave an outstanding performance of Telegraph Road which made us all—especially those of us who play the guitar—quite amazed. You know, sometimes when I see Mark playing the guitar, I really don’t see the point of myself playing the guitar ever again as I don’t understand how better can it go from what Mark does.

As I expected, the amazing performance of Marbletown (I believe I mentioned that that’s my favourite piece in the concerts… about 100 times before) really turned the crowd on, which wasn’t very hard to do because two songs earlier Mark made sure that the crowd gets its arse kicked by some mean performance of Sultans of Swing.

John & Glen gave an outstanding performance in Marbletown. I got to watch Glen closely today. Now I have no idea how to play the bass guitar, and of course I have no clue how to work that huge cello; he, however, does have more than a clue. It was great seeing him giving it all, with the peak being Marbletown’s interlude. Watching him being mean on those cello’s strings during the Marbletown performance, such great accuracy and such great collaboration & coordination with John… was great.

There were no special incidents in the show. I can’t even recall Mark pointing at anybody filming the show. I guess it’s just the Canadian crowd being polite, the Canadian way.

Herds of people swamped Vancouver’s downtown after the show, working their way towards their cars. I hopped on the Skytrain on my way back to Joyce station, where I was picked up by Joyti.

Back at her place, I got to meet Amir, who is Joyti’s friend and one hell of a guy. The three of us went on talking for two hours or so, Joyti making us some tasty, Indian‐style snack and some tea. It was great. I was tired as hell (1 hour of sleep in 24 hours), but it was fun.

Then it was clearly time to sleep. Slept on a sofa bed which was surprisingly comfortable. I don’t even recall being lying awake. I’m pretty sure that I snapped into dreamworld as soon as I closed my eyes.

Today’s going to be sad and happy at the same time. Sad because I’m leaving Vancouver and Joyti, happy because I’m going to drive through the mountains, on my way to Kelowna.

Talk soon,


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Seattle to Vancouver by Train

I am writing these lines as we’re approaching the Vancouver train station. About 20 minutes left for this ride.

So. I ended up not sleeping at all (or maybe an hour) last night. I had to reorganize my backpacks and have everything ready for the morning so I’m not caught chasing time on 5:00am. I ended up hitting bed at about 3:00am but I really couldn’t sleep.

Woke up at 5:00am, to the disgusting alarm clock sound of my phone. As a backup, I asked the motel to schedule a wake‐up call for me, which was 10 minutes late (yeah, it’s really cool that wake‐up calls, which are electronic by the way, are late). Within minutes I was already on my way to the car.

The GPS led me to Fox’s location which ended up being one minute drive from where I was staying. There I encountered people who didn’t do much to hide the fact that they are not morning people. Paperwork ran quickly, although they had me wait there for about 30 minutes until the next shuttle (which was supposed to leave every 10 minutes) left towards the station. Timing was, however, perfect; exactly two minutes after being dropped off at the public transport location in Seattle’s airport, bus #194 arrived. Obviously I didn’t have exact change for the bus. The driver asked me to ask other passengers for change. I felt very sophisticated. I asked the other passengers if they have change from $5. All of them made their absolute best efforts to completely avoid my cry for help. As I was ready to sacrifice a $5 bill for a ride that costs $2.25, but the lovely driver understood that I’m going through some rough morning and allowed me a free ride.

Arrived at downtown Seattle. Now THAT’S a city center. A fair share of their public transport in downtown is underground. A few steps up in the tunnel and I’m right next to the train station. Coffee shops in every corner; those Seattle people must like espresso! I really want to be their friend. Seattle looks like a great city to visit. I will certainly pop for a visit soon.

Went into the station. Thank God for the Internet as I was able to print my ticket without waiting in that gigantic line that was formed there, herds of people facing the ticket counter which was manned by the amazing unstoppable power of one poor lady.

Checked my large backpack in, and was instructed to wait in line for seat assignment. That made me feel quite bad, not because of the wait but because I’m a software architect / designer / developer myself and it simply blew my mind how come this process is not automated yet. I was assigned a seat and had 10 minutes to rush to one of the few hundred millions of coffee shops right next to the train station to grab a bagel and what turned out to be one of the best Cafe Latte’s I had in a while.

Boarding the train, which has two cars, the usher told me: “Left—car 2, right—car 1”. I went to my seat—the row was empty. I was so happy, only to discover a few minutes later that I was on the wrong car and that the usher, by saying “left”, probably meant some other type of “left” that I wasn’t aware of. The “other” left, as I call it. So I had to cross the train in search of my seat.

The ride from Seattle to Vancouver, on the train called “Cascades”, is known to be scenic. I was seated by the window. Through the window, I could see the ocean along the way. The only problem with that was that the window through which the ocean was visible wasn’t entirely the same window that I was seated against. What I saw most of the way is green, green and more green, in what seemed to be one long‐lasting piece of bush. Well, the sky was gray anyway, and looking at the ocean from time to time, I wasn’t that sad to be on the wrong side of the train.

A few minutes ago we arrived in Vancouver. Ahhhhhhh, Vancouver. My mother of cities. Truly, out of all the big cities I’ve been through in North America, my absolute favourite. I came here the first time 6 years ago, on a trip, and fell in love with the city. It is so green, so beautiful… I absolutely love it.

I’m only going to spend one day here, leaving for Kelowna tomorrow, in a road that I’ve driven so many times before (I visit Western Canada at least twice a year). I can’t wait to meet my good friend, Joyti, who’s picking me up from the train station. I haven’t seen her in a while. Should be fun.

I lived in Vancouver for 4 months during the spring‐summer of 2005. If it wasn’t for the forbiddingly high real estate prices, I would have probably buy a house here.

Can’t wait to devour that Triple‐O burger. Mr. Richard Bennett, if you are reading this, take my word—White Spot’s Triple‐O burger is much better than Harvey’s burger. Try it out. White Spot is a chain that only exists in BC (and I think in a couple of places in Alberta as well). It’s funny when people claim that Swiss Chalet is the east coast equivalent of White Spot. Not even close.

We’re approaching the station now. Tucking the laptop in…

Nashville Show

Hi again guys,

I just looked into a few issues and decided to attempt to attend the Nashville show.

Problem is that I don’t have a ticket.

If anyone has a ticket to spare, please contact me. I will pay any amount up to the face value plus shipping & handling, which will be tricky considering the fact that I’ll be on the road.


Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Woodinville, WA

Pheeeeew, today was a long day.

And no, not because of the driving. The drive from Portland to Seattle is an easy 2–3 hours drive. What made this day so long was the logistics behind it.

The problem is really that Canadian citizens are not allowed to drive US‐plated vehicles into Canada. That means that tomorrow morning I have to get rid of the convertible I rented in L.A and catch a train to Vancouver. The distances between the airport, downtown Seattle (where I wanted to stay) and the venue made the entire thing rather uncomfortable to plan. I was originally supposed to be picked up by a friend of mine in Seattle and get a ride to Vancouver, but that has only recently been changed so I found myself having to improvise on a very short notice.

I would like to take this opportunity, though, to thank Jeff Wood, a great guy whom I met in the Red Rocks concert and happened to attend the show today. Jeff helped me a lot by suggesting ways to resolve those logistical issues, by checking out things for me over the web while I was making my way to Seattle.

Jeff—thank you! We didn’t get the chance to have a drink together today, but we will in the future. What you did today meant a lot to me and I appreciate it to no end.

I ended up staying in “Motel 6” about 10 miles from the airport. I realized that, considering traffic, I won’t have time to tour around downtown Seattle—something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while now—so I put my bags in the room and immediately left for the venue.

On my way to the venue I got a good view of Seattle’s skyline, which was very nice however a bit ruined by poor visibility. Traffic ended up being not so bad after all, so I took the liberty to devour a chicken parmesan sandwich in Georgio’s Subs (not sure about the name) which hit the spot really well. Quick drive from there to the venue. Lovely drive.

Weather was warm, however cloudy and I noticed a few thunders and lightnings on my way.

Today was my second time visiting that venue. I absolutely love it. I am no wine connoisseur but the scent of a winery really gets to me and makes me want to consume wine in a rather irresponsible manner. Parking was easy and within minutes I found myself being unloaded from a shuttle onto the venue.

Only after I got to the venue itself, while having my bag checked, I realized that I forgot to take the camera out. That was completely my fault—I should have recalled, from the last tour, the fact that there’s a strict ban on any kind of photography in this venue. I promised the security guard that the camera will stay in the bag before and during the show, a promise that I kept. I did take it out after the show to grab one photo with a couple of friends there, but that was way after the concert ended. I seemed to have been acceptable by the security guards there.

Section A, row A, seat 1—effectively, one of the two absolute best seats in the venue. Even the usher at the entrance was impressed. I got my wrist stamped with the word “reserve” which allowed me easy access to the winery itself, which was beautiful.

A short time before Jesca’s opening act, I ran into Guy Fletcher and Paul Crockford. Two super‐nice guys. It was a great pleasure speaking with them both. Guy and Paul—thank you for your time!

There came Jesca Hoop on stage, wearing an outfit that she hasn’t worn yet in any of her shows, and the big news—no makeup at all. I happened to like it. In 9 times out of 10, makeup really doesn’t do it for me. Jesca—way to go! Once again she played a song which I haven’t heard her play yet. I admire her for that, doing something new. Being an opening act to Mark Knopfler is already a huge step and requires a lot of courage as expectations are very, very high. And so far, I think she’s handling it very well.

After Jesca’s performance, I gathered pretty much all the courage I could get and waved to her. We ended up talking for about 5 minutes—what a nice lady! Had it not been for the strict photography restriction, I would have asked her if we could take a picture together. Hopefully next time.

In the intermission between the two shows, I noticed John tuning one of his million instruments. I felt that I had to tell him what I think of his performances and how much he adds to the band, a comment which he seems to have appreciated.

A few additional minutes and somebody in the sky apparently decided that it’s time to flush. It began pouring. Within minutes, the stage crew stretched some fabric to protect the instruments from the elements, which helped the stage and the instruments a lot but wasn’t of any help to some hundreds of people who were coverless. Luckily, the rain stopped shortly after it started, and within a few more minutes Mark’s concert started.

There is a lot I would like to write about that concert. It’s 12:20am now and tomorrow I have a very long day that starts very early in the morning, so if what I write doesn’t make much sense, then my apologies.

Mark appeared very comfortable with the crowd. What I noticed is that, at least at the beginning of each concert, he actually prefers being a little distant (physically, of course) from the crowd. The front row is about 6 feet away from the stage so there was plenty of “air” for him to breathe. Maybe I’m wrong about his preference, but anyway.

Concert gained momentum very quickly. The crowd, mainly adult (I have seen very, very few youngsters there), appreciated the music very much. Smooth performance of the opening song, followed by “Why Aye Man”. After the first solo, Mark appeared to have skipped a few beats so the background chords weren’t in sync for maybe 2 seconds (I happen to have a perfect pitch and a very strong musical hearing so I can spot inaccuracies like these), but it was amazing how the band adjusted so quickly and smoothly and not even one dissonance could have been heard. This is one of the things I like about great musicians; mistakes do happen during shows, but a great musician knows how to incorporate the mistake into the song somehow (without giving the audience the feeling of “oops”).

Today, similarly to yesterday, the band allowed themselves to further explore and improvise, which turned out great. Reading Guy’s blog yesterday, I confirmed what I’ve been thinking for quite some time now—the band doesn’t rehearse too much between shows; they improvise a lot within pre‐determined “time windows”. And they do a great job at it, too.

Today I got to watch Richard very closely. I am a great fan of Richard’s music; I acquired a copy of “Themes from a Rainy Decade” very shortly after it was released (although didn’t get to hear his new one yet) and I absolutely love it, my favourite pieces being “The Proud and Profane” and “A Face No More” which I frequently play myself – doesn’t sound the same on my Gibson Les‐Paul though. Richard has a very distinctive guitar tone which is a characteristic commonly found in great artists. Let me hear some guitar work and I should be able to tell you whether it’s Richard’s work or not. The guy makes great use of tremolos, and he’s not shy of using it—and that’s a good thing! It would be very interesting to hear what his guitar playing would sound like had he didn’t use a pick at all.

Towards the end of the show, I told (well, screamed; the entire crowd was screaming) Richard that there’s plenty of Harvey’s where I come from. I recall him writing once that he really likes that Canadian burger joint (it is, actually, very good). He was wearing the earplugs so I’m not sure he even got the message. Richard, tomorrow you’re in Canada. Enjoy Harvey’s as much as you can.

Another point I decided to focus on in today’s show was the band as a whole and to look at the dynamics between them. I figured something simple: if Mark himself says that “he’s just the frontman”, then this statement must be looked into very closely. I have to say that Mark has to be proud of having such great musicians play with him.

One thing that makes the band’s shows so great is the fact that the “whole” here is much bigger than the sum of its parts. Each and every member of the band is a great, professional musician. It is clearly visible that each and every band member is playing straight from his soul, not filtering anything out. They are just giving it all. Each and every band member is giving his best in each and every show. That is one reason for the shows being great.

The second reason is the incredible professionalism among the band member. I’m not sure that professionalism is the right word to use in this context (sorry, I’m not a native English speaker), but anyway, I refer to the quality of each and every musician in the band’s willing to “flatter” and complement each other member. Working in tandem is one thing; complementing each other, while still maintaining a great level of self‐expression is something completely different and much, much more complex.

Nobody in this band, including Mark himself, is crazy for the spotlight. Few would disagree with me when I say that Mark really appears, and behaves, as if he just happens to be in the front. And that is the third reason why these shows are such a blast: nobody craves the spotlight. Nobody wants to be the “center of the world” on the account of anybody else in the band. In other words, absolutely perfect harmony.

Great performance in Brothers in Arms today. The only thing I could hope for, in the performing of this song, is that Mark finally plays it with the same guitar, same configuration as in the album (the ‘58 with the pickups rewired “out of phase”, activated by that push‐pull pin he has on one of the volume knobs). He keeps playing it with (what I think is) his ‘59 with the pickup selector in the “rhythm” position, which gives it a totally different tone—a good tone, however I personally like the “nasal”‐y out‐of‐phase tone for this wonderful song.

Marbletown’s interlude was, as always, the highlight of this concert. I just love that interlude so much.

Show seemed to have flown by very quickly, although the set list was the usual one with no skipped songs. Before I knew it, there was time for the four encores, during which we attached ourselves to the stage in a rather persistent fashion. I looked back and saw a very enthusiastic crowd thirstily absorbing each note played by the band. It was amazing.

As soon as she show ended, I met Rob (a guy that posted a comment on one of my previous posts) and took a photo with him and with Jordan. I then met Raghu, who happened to have read my blog (apparently, Guy has linked from his blog to mine—thank you, Guy! Much appreciated), and his girlfriend / wife (I’m not sure! He didn’t tell me) Anita. Great people. We ended up having very interesting discussions on the way to our cars, who were coincidentally parked very close to each other.

Drive home was smooth. Took the roof down and drove back to the motel, listening to Eddie Vedder’s “Into the Wild” soundtrack. The air, the view of Seattle, and Eddie Vedder’s deep voice when he’s singing “Guaranteed” led me to a simple conclusion: I am living my dream, and a huge part of that dream consists of—

  • Meeting great musicians and speaking with them, not to them; and
  • Meeting great people along the way, who share similar values and give me the power, will and mental strength to continue this journey into Mark Knopfler’s music and into my soul. Jeff, Jordan, Ryan, Rag, Linda, April, Chris—I am very happy to have had the opportunity to meet with you and get to know you, and thank you for everything!

Very long day tomorrow. I will write more while in the train—that is, if I am awake at all as I have the feeling I’ll be sleeping the entire way.

Ahhh… Vancouver tomorrow. Love that city. More on that later.

Good night.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hmmm… That Can’t Be Good

The hours of driving are starting to show their signs, I guess. Halfway through the concert tonight I started feeling some pain in my lower back. I can’t recall carrying anything extremely heavy recently so I suspect that this is because of the hours and hours of driving.

I certainly hope that this goes away pretty soon. I’m expecting some long drives once we enter Canada… if the pain doesn’t go away, then it means that I’ll have to work out some different method of transportation and it is going to suck big time, especially for my heirs as there will be much less assets to be passed to them once I depart this planet. Air travel in Canada is so ridiculously expensive. Example: One way flight from Vancouver to Kelowna—a mere 1 hour flight—about $300.

God, make this pain go away… please!

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, Oregon

After a few hours drive from Eugene to Portland, I finally checked into my motel right at the center of town within a few minutes of bus ride from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

First of all, I would like to state that I just can’t see the point of naming a city after a person’s first name. “I’m in Eugene” doesn’t sound that good. “I’m getting out of Eugene” sounds even more awkward.

But anyway. Back to the point. Checked into the motel and left by bus to downtown Portland.

Portland is a rather nice city. It’s not that huge in the first place, and it gives you a cozy, warm feeling (warm, regardless of the fact that it’s just about 1,500 degrees here, give or take). I like it. It’s pretty green, small, somewhat “tucked in”. It has a very nice vibe to it. A short bus ride from East Burnside street, crossing the bridge and I’m on Broadway street, a few blocks away from the venue.

There are so many Emo people here. People here wear all bunch of unconventional haircuts and ragged clothes, which is rather fun to watch. I was starving so I went to some taco place. It was full of drunk people and I kind of regretted stepping into the place, but once I stepped in and smelled the Mexican food, I was lost. I am a sucker for Mexican food. Just to be cautious though, I ordered the vegetarian dish. :-)

I then entered the venue, showing off my first‐row ticket, only to find out later that, contrary to the seat map I saw before, there’s also a pit section of two rows. Three letters popped into my head—W, T and F, in that order, and repeating.

But I have to say that it is a very, very impressive venue. Very nicely laid out, very impressive artwork in the lobby and inside the hall itself. Huge line‐ups for the drink stand, of course. The concert hall has a beautifully decorated balcony. The venue looks amazing when you look at it from the stage.

Jesca Hoop hopped on the stage and gave a good performance. Today she played two songs that she never played before in this tour, and I think that these two new songs (I can’t remember the names) are of her best. She should continue playing those two.

Mark and the band followed after the usual 30 minutes intermission. Great welcome from the crowd, however the crowd seemed to be much, much more restrained than the crowds in previous venues. The show was great as always, with the usual set list except for the encore that spanned 3 songs instead of 4.

What I did notice about that show is that Richard and Mark took more liberty to improvise today. The results were quite good except for a few off‐notes here and there. The Sultans of Swing solo was great, and the guitar solo for Brothers in Arms was the best in the tour so far. That said, I must note that I have yet to hear a live performance of Brothers in Arms that sounds better than the original, recorded version.

The city of Portland is mentioned in the song “Speedway in Nazareth”. Obviously, the crowd cheered when the name was mentioned in the song. But, as I said before, we’re talking about a restrained crowd. I would imagine the cheer to be much stronger. I recall the Toronto show during the Shangri La tour. When the name “Toronto” was mentioned in the song, you could barely hear the music among the crowd’s screams.

Another amazing performance of Marbletown with the fantastic interlude that makes my jaw drop to a point that human intervention (usually myself) is needed to re‐fix it in an upright position.

Of course, we had our usual incidents of people recording the show. You can actually see how it irritates the band. Being a guitar player myself, I am watching Mark’s fingerwork very closely in each and every show, watching his reactions and body posture, and I can tell you with %100 assurance that, when he spots people recording, it pisses him off and distracts him. This, in turn, pisses me as well to no end as there’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing Mark getting so much concentrated on the guitar that he’s disconnected from everything around him.

At the end, I went to the pit and attached myself to the stage. Finally, after about a thousand miles of driving and more than a few thousands of miles flying from concert to concert in this tour, finally, I got a handshake, first from Guy Fletcher and then from Mark Knopfler. Obviously there was nothing personal there, but still, it was very nice.

There seemed to be an incident towards the end of the show involving Paul Crockford, some concert guest and the security guards. I didn’t stick around long enough to understand what happened there but nobody seemed to be very pleasant about it.

After the show, I went back by foot to the bus station. I’m telling you, the people who wander around the downtown area at night do not seem very pleasant, neither in their appearance nor in their behaviour. So yes, even though I study martial arts, getting into a fight as a result of an attempted robbery wasn’t really in my plans, so I stuck to the bus station and was very happy when the bus came, only to realize that the number of freaks inside the bus outnumbered the number of freaks outside of it. People giving me some strange looks. Two stations and it’s my time to depart the bus—what a relief.

Stopped by Jupiter Hotel, right across the street from where I stay, for a short drink. Had a glass of red wine and a guy from California—never got his name—sat there in the bar with his girlfriend and started talking to me. We talked about a bunch of stuff, 30 minutes passed very quickly and... time for bed.

Tomorrow I’m planning on spending as much time as possible in Seattle. Show is in Woodinville—a magnificent venue I’ve been in before—scent of wine all over the place and the venue is so pretty. Seat: Row A seat 1—right in the middle of the first floor, which means that I get to point my finger at Guy Fletcher again with no one in the way.

Good night!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Leaving Highway 101 Towards Eugene

Highway 101, starting actually in California and running along the west coast, is a real beauty. I got to drive through numerous rivers and valleys, and everything is green. The closer you get to the ocean, the colder (and foggier) it gets, but the views are really impressive.

At Florence, I had to leave highway 101 and cut towards the city of Eugene, if I want to make it to the concert on time. Well, I had to accept the fact that I won’t get to drive through the entire highway 101—I will leave that to a follow‐up trip.

Very shortly after departing highway 101 towards Eugene, I realized that the views here are not less impressive. There are lakes and rivers that remind me of certain parts of the sea‐to‐sky highway (highway 99) from Vancouver to Whistler in the most beautiful piece of earth in the world, British Columbia. At the time of writing these lines, I am sitting on what appears to have been a bench at some point, right beside a wonderful river nestled between green hills. The sight was so pretty that I had to backtrack and find a good spot to stop, antagonizing my GPS device that kept on telling me to “make a U‐Turn as soon as possible” in a deep, authoritative female voice that reminded me of some girls from highschool.

It’s so green in here. I love it. I wrote in one of my earlier blog entries how happy I am to be in a green environment, surrounded by trees, water, hills and mountains. I feel like climbing those trees and jump from one tree to another, a feeling that confirms to me what Darwin said so many years ago, that the man is actually rooted at the ape. That said, I should note that some girls in my past have suggested a much simpler way for me to confirm my belief in that theory—they claimed that, in my case, a quick glance at the mirror should suffice.

Oh, the dear days of primary school.

There are lots of detached houses along the river. The temperature, whatever it is, is perfect. You know that temperature that is not hot and not cold, but right in the middle. I’m under the shade of a huge, beautiful tree (pictures to follow! I promise) listening to the birds chirping and watching some never‐discovered‐before types of insects walking on the very same bench I am currently sitting on.

It is this moment, and similar moments, that make this entire tour worthwhile. God / Jesus / Moses / Allah (pick your favourite sacred entity, I’m just trying to be multi‐culturalist here), thank you for this wonderful land you have created for us. I am sorry, on behalf of the human race I am a part of, for our continuing attempt to destroy what you have created.

Oregon… Oh, Oregon. I have heard so much about this state and was looking forward to visit. I am happy I did. Oregon’s people—you have a beautiful state—watch for it! This is the first part of the USA I’ve ever been to that can be fairly compared with Canada’s best scenery.

Time to go.

Leaving Gold Beach, Oregon

It was wonderful to have a completely natural awakening this morning—no alarm clock sound, no weird noises appearing to originate somewhere behind the walls, no dogs barking. I slept very well last night, feeling rested and prepared for another 5 days of concert after concert, until July 6th comes which is the next “day off”. It wouldn’t be that much of a day off for me as I will probably find myself hiking some trail in the Canadian Rockies, most likely in the Jasper area as Jasper is my favourite spot on earth.

I spent the night in Motel 6 in Gold Beach. What a lovely establishment! So far in my trip, this place ranks the highest when it comes to price/quality ratio. I believe I paid about $50 and I got a room that is way, way, way better than the room I got in L.A for more than twice the price. The owner, Vic, and I had a lovely talk last night about many issues. He turned out to be a Mark Knopfler fan himself, and didn’t know that there was a show in Jacksonville the night before.

Guys, if you’re ever in Gold Beach and looking for a place to stay, do yourselves a favour and spend the night in Motel 6. Trust me, you won’t regret it. I had a great time there. Vic—thank you for keeping the place up in such a great shape! Was great speaking with you.

People in Oregon, so far, appear to be very, very nice.

I am getting the feeling that something wrong is going on with the car. It took a few seconds to start this morning. I’m not sure if it’s because of the cold night or what. The clock on the CD player’s panel showed 12:00 whereas the time was about 9:15, which somewhat implies that it was reset due to some power outage. I’m no car expert but I have a feeling that the battery is going to die. I really hope that it will live long enough until I get to Seattle where I will return this car and never rent from this company ever again (the company is called Fox Rent‐A‐Car).

I’ve driven about 100km (~ 60 miles) north of Gold Beach so far. I became very hungry (skipped breakfast… not good) so I’m sitting in a place called “Lloyd of Bandon”, waiting for my “Turkey Berry” sandwich (with a side of coleslaw; made a decision to keep my weight steady at 176 pounds).


Breakfast (well, actually, lunch) was good. I don’t get why it is that %98 of Americans insist on having breakfasts that render the rest of their day almost entirely useless, such as sausages, fries and all other fried foods. Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean compromising on taste.

I took a short stroll around Bandon’s harbour. Very small, but picturesque (I took some pictures. I realize that at some point I’ll have to upload all the pictures I took during the tour. Patience… it will happen soon).

Continuing on my way to Portland…

Monday, June 30, 2008

Some FAQ

Hi there.

Thank you everybody for checking my blog out and commenting. Some people comment by email directly to me, some people comment in the blog itself—it’s wonderful, and I’m happy to get your attention.

So right now I’m sitting on a bench by the ocean in Gold Beach, Oregon. I have the time now to go through some of the comments and emails. I think it’s a good time for a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) entry.

So, here we go.

Question: …Why?

I have been asked this question so many times, so it deserves being at the top of the list.

When I first heard about the KTGC tour coming to North America, the decision to follow the tour was instant. There are some things you instantly feel that you just have to do—or at least try—and that feeling kicks in way before the doubts (“how much is it going to cost me”, “what if…”) do. I knew that I just have to follow the tour. I only started asking myself “why?” after buying the last ticket. And I came up with an answer. There are a few reasons:

The first reason is that, even though my business is software development, a large part of my being is that of a musician. Ever since I was 3 years old (at least so my parents are telling me) I had a very strong musical sense. I grew up listening to various types of music, ranging from classical music to rock (excluding heavy metal, to which I was never attracted to). I played the keyboard as I was growing up, and at the age of 13 I started playing a classic guitar. Later in life I made the decision that my career would be in software development, but to keep practicing music as my primary hobby. I figured that if any music was to be created by me, it should not be used as means of earning income but instead for self‐expression only. About two years ago I bought my first electric guitar, a Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les‐Paul Standard. As soon as I’m in Calgary, I will order a Fender Stratocaster (Mark Knopfler’s signature model. Calgary is in Alberta which has no provincial taxes).

Over the years playing guitar (unfortunately, playing much less than I would really like to), it happened many times that I started composing a melody just out of nowhere. I believe that there is at least one melody in my brain, that I can harvest and finish into a full composition. Something, however, is missing. This brings me to the second reason for following the tour: inspiration.

Mark Knopfler’s music signifies, for me, the apex of music. Save for very few songs, each and every of Mark Knopfler’s songs connects to me in some way, while “Brothers in Arms” is, for me, the absolute best piece of music that I had ever come across.

By following Mark Knopfler on tour, I hope to get a glimpse of what inspires him. He had mentioned before that he received significant inspiration from being on the road and seeing places; I have a good reason to believe that his sources of inspiration would have similar impact on me as on him.

Question: Have you ever met with Mark Knopfler?

Unfortunately, no.

Question: Why on earth would you go to so many shows, as the shows’ set list probably doesn’t vary much? Wouldn’t you be sick of listening to the same songs over and over again?

Even if exactly the same songs are played in each and every show, Mark, as well as his band mates, typically do not shy away from improvising and songs do sound differently each time they are played. I experienced this during the Shangri La tour, when the set list did not vary much but songs sounded differently in each show, be it due to the band improvising, or due to the different sound & acoustics in each venue.

Question: Are you that rich?


Question: But it must have cost a fortune!

“Fortune” is a relative term that depends on one’s financial situation and one’s values & dreams. People spend their money on things that bring them happiness—be it short term or long term—and the source of happiness for people can vary so wildly that trying to figure it out is an exercise in futility. Some things you just feel right about, and some don’t. Some people get their kicks by buying iPods and cars; I get mine by following my favourite artist’s tour.

No need to worry about my financial situation; I won’t get into details as it is a little inappropriate, but just so you’re not worried about me—it’s OK, this tour won’t make me broke.

Question: So… How much?

Next question, please.

Question: What do you do for a living, when you’re not busy following Mark Knopfler’s tour?

I own and operate a small software development company based in Waterloo, Ontario.

Question: Oh, so you’re from Canada, eh? You must be a French‐Canadian! Ou la la, oui oui monsieour, (and some more French words)

I get that a lot when people meet me along the way and find out that I live in Canada. Sorry, no. I’m not French Canadian. My accent is a result of not being born in Canada at all. I am Israeli born and raised; left Israel about five years ago. Please don’t try to impress me with French vocabulary. The only words I know in French are “oui”, “non”, “s’il vous plait”, “merci”, “bon apetit”, “nord / sud / est / ouest”, and “merde”. Everything else sounds like gibberish to me.

Question: Wow! So you know how to ride a camel?

Now lets make one point clear here. What qualifies a question as a “Frequently Asked Question” is not exactly how many times the question is asked, but instead how many times it is asked comparing to its obviousness and the number of times it should have been asked.

No, I don’t know how to ride a camel. Israelis don’t ride camels. The Bedouins do. Some Bedouins do physically exist in Israel’s desert‐like spaces, and they ride camels there. But Israeli people don’t typically ride camels.

The main reason behind it is infrastructure. Israel has lots of roads in it, which makes it very inconvenient for camel riding as the “clip‐clop” sound against the asphalt becomes very annoying. Feeling very sorry for not being able to ride camels everywhere, they had no choice but to resort to automobile‐based transportation.

More to come soon (maybe).


Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, Oregon

It’s 11:30am now, the morning after the show in Jacksonville.

The drive from Berkeley to Jacksonville was a long one. It was very hot and very dry. I learned from my mistakes and bought some sunscreen before I left.

There’s nothing special to say about the way from Berkeley to Jacksonville. The road from Berkeley to the Oregon border is very boring with not much to see, at least not if you’re on the I‐5 North highway. As soon as you approach Oregon, however, it becomes greener and nicer. Huge hills, too. The highest point on the I‐5 is in southern Oregon.

Oddly enough, my cellular phone didn’t (and still doesn’t) work in southern Oregon at all. I have reception, I am roaming, but calls are not getting through. So I had to trust my instincts when looking for a place to stay. That turned out to be a very easy task. I ended up staying in Medford, about 5 miles out of Jacksonville. The capitalistic concept of “supply and demand” works very well here. There are about 500,000 motels in here. The one I’m staying in—Cedar Lodge Motel—cost me about $40 for one night, king‐sized bed, wireless Internet and everything. Very good quality too!

There’s nothing to do here. Medford is a really small town with very little to do. Jacksonville, though, seemed pretty interesting. Tiny, tiny little town that seems to have remained intact for the last 5,000 years. Luckily enough, I got a good parking spot within 5 minutes walking from the venue.

The venue is really nice. The stage seems a bit old. In the front, there’s a small lawn section, for which you needed some wristband in order to enter (I was told later that this is probably a privilege given to people who hold season passes for the Britt festival). My seat was in the front row of Section B—right behind the lawn section—and right in the middle. It wasn’t too far from the crowd. It was actually pretty close—close enough for Guy Fletcher to notice me pointing at him (as I do in every show—I absolutely like this guy) so he pointed back, as usual, probably thinking that he’s dealing with some kind of a lunatic.

I met a very nice guy there, sitting right next to me. I am absolutely terrible with names—I believe I’d forget my own name had I not have to present my ID for satisfying some bouncers in places that are 21+ (when I shave, I guess I look like a teenager. At least that’s what my mother tells me). We had an interesting discussion, he seemed to be very knowledgeable in music in general and Mark Knopfler’s music in particular. We agreed to keep in touch—he sent me an SMS with his email address but, again, my cellphone doesn’t work well in Oregon so I hope I get that text message as soon as leave.

The crowd was very similar to the crowd in Berkeley. Mainly adults, absolutely gorgeous women.

The concert went great. And one thing that was really good in it was Mark’s communication with the crowd. In this concert, he actually talked to the crowd. Which was amazing. Mark has a great, sophisticated sense of humour. Think about the kind of humour in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and you’ll probably understand what I’m talking about, except that he doesn’t curse. He spoke with the crowd for more than two minutes, and for me, that was a highlight in the concert. I love it when the artist communicates with the crowd.

The set list was almost identical to the rest, except for the absence of “Song for Sonny Liston”. The crowd loved him. John gave an excellent performance as well. The interlude in Marbletown turned to be the apex of the concerts for me as I think that that interlude is nothing short of spectacular. I used to not like Marbletown at all, until I heard it live.

Something odd went with the sound as well. Something didn’t sound quite right to me with regards to the volumes. At some point (Sailing to Philadelphia), Richard’s acoustic guitar seemed to sound a little too loud. But it may be only in my head.

Leaving Jacksonville back to the motel was easy. I took the roof down, put a CD with the Metroland soundtrack and listened to Mark’s brilliant theme song from that album. That was amazing.

Now it’s Monday noon. No shows today, so I’m thinking about hitting the ocean, spending the night in Eugene or Salem and then continue to Portland the next day.

Talk to you soon,


Leaving Jacksonville for the Ocean

It’s about 2:00pm on Monday June 30. I left Medford, OR about two hours ago, on my way to the Pacific Ocean, to a town named Gold Beach.

Right now I’m parked somewhere in the middle of the way, on a road called BLM‐34‐8‐36. Let me describe to you what I see around me.

I am sitting basically on the slope of a huge mountain. Beneath me there’s a few hundred feet of slope. Trees abound. Visibility is good enough to see the vast distances. Absolute quietness.

A motorcycle just passed by in the opposite direction, waving “Hi” at me.

It is so peaceful here. I love nature. I love green. Whatever involves green (trees, bush) and blue (water, sky)—makes me feel free and in touch with the greatest mother of them all—mother nature.

I am no stranger to nature. Let me all remind you that I live in Ontario, Canada. Ontario is beautiful, but the real deal lies elsewhere—in Nova Scotia at the east, and above everything—British Columbia at the west, including some of Alberta (essentially, everything in the Canadian Rockies and westwards). In my 5+ years in Canada, I found myself visiting Western Canada at least twice a year, totalling about a month or so annually. During the spring & summer of 2005, I actually lived in Vancouver, BC for four months, and I can barely recall staying at home at all. I used every minute of my spare time to hike, camp or simply drive those wonderful areas.

This time, however, is the first time I’m having the chance to connect to mother nature in the USA. Oregon State is really stunning. I am very happy to be here. To the people of Oregon—all the power to you!

A few years ago, I read Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Until I read that book, mother nature didn’t mean much to me; as soon as I finished reading it, the traveling bug kicked in and within a few months I found myself taking my first trip to Canada for two months, a trip I will never forget. If you never read the book—get it and read it. Mark, if you are reading this and haven’t read the book I am talking about—may I please suggest that you do. Not that you are lacking any sort of inspiration to create beautiful music, of course; it’s just that that book and your music, together, form, in my mind, a perfect image of the connection between people and themselves and between people to nature. I am only thankful for having lived to listen to Mark’s music and experience nature as I have so far.

I would also suggest to all of you Mark Knopfler fans out there, who really liked his soundtrack album for “A Shot at Glory” and “Cal”—go tour Nova Scotia, and spend a week or so in Cape Breton Island by the ocean. Then play those CD’s again and tell me what you think.

Continuing my way to Gold Beach…


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA

Wow, today was a very long driving day. And of course, since it’s my first time ever driving a convertible car during the day time, I completely neglected the concept of “skin protection” and, 7 hours later of driving in the sun from L.A to Berkeley, my skin is burnt and I am tanned beyond recognition.

I am lucky enough to have been born in a pretty sunny country (Israel), and I am naturally tanned anyway, so the damage wasn’t that bad. But still, it hurts.

Getting out of Hollywood Hills, where I stayed after the concert in L.A., was pretty smooth as it was a Saturday morning. It’s amazing how everything changes as soon as you leave the Los Angeles metro area. The air becomes softer and cleaner; people become nicer; all and all, it feels more… how to say it… warm and cozy.

I remember when I first drove from LAX to the Travelodge in Hollywood Hills, I thought I’m driving into a slum. That entire area (North Vermont Avenue, near the park) seemed very odd to me, very different from what I expected. I entered the Travelodge lobby and asked the receptionist: “Excuse me, but am I in a rough area of town?”

Few words exist in the English language to explain the surprise and shock on his face when I asked him that. “No, this is actually a very good area” he said, going on to tell me about the whopping awesome deal they have there—$110 for a night (!), in a motel that in Ontario I’d probably pay $50–60 max. But what the hell, I didn’t want to start wandering around looking for a place to stay, so I paid the fine and stayed there. Also, it’s within walking distance to the park.

Anyway, back to my Saturday experience. I had my breakfast in a cute little place called “Side Street Cafe”, owned by Shelly Benton & Suzanne Hullinger, in Newbury Park, north of Los Angeles. The friendliness of the staff reminded me of my home town of Waterloo, Ontario—small‐town atmosphere, great friendly people. It was a pleasure, and the food was really good. Very recommended.

Then started that long drive to Berkeley, during which I insisted to have the roof tucked in and have the sun torture my face, shoulders and arms. I drove a little bit alongside highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, which was beautiful. Very similar views to the ones you get when you drive along the coast of Cape Breton Island in lovely Nova Scotia, except that in Nova Scotia you can never be absolutely sure about the weather and the water is forbiddingly cold so you can’t swim there at all.

Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, I saw what everybody considers to be California—young people (well, I’m young too… I think… is 30 too old?), good looking people, amazingly beautiful girls holding surfboards. These people seem to be having fun. I wouldn’t mind being lucky enough to own a beach house along one of those beaches, these guys must be making gazillions of dollars. After some swift calculations and consideration of my financial status and goals in life, I decided that maybe it’s better to keep the house I own in Ontario (which pays for itself) than selling it and getting into debt that will last approximately 500,000 years. So I moved on and skipped all “for sale” ads.

About a hundred miles north of the L.A. metro, the road really becomes desert‐like. There’s nothing along the way except for some restaurants and fuel stations. Rather boring drive, which becomes much more interesting as you approach San Francisco.

I didn’t get to spend too much time in San Francisco, unfortunately. I had to check into my hotel (Super 8 Motel in Martinez—very recommended) and hurry to the concert.

I arrived at Berkeley. What a lovely little town! Very similar in nature to some parts of Tel Aviv, except that the people are completely different and the area is very hilly—you can’t drive for one minute without encountering uphills and downhills.

People told me, before I went on my trip, that Berkeley is some sort of a “hippie” town. Well, that’s correct. And you can see that by looking at the people who arrived at the venue. Nice people, dressed like, speak like and behave like we’re still in the 1960’s—which is not bad at all, but just a little peculiar.

The venue itself is far from being extravagant. Very basic. If it was in any other city, I would complain. But the venue itself matched my perception of Berkeley—nothing too fancy, “take it easy” kind of attitude. The staff was great. I really disliked the fact that there was some sort of a fence separating the first row (where I was located, right in the middle) from the stage, even though the stage is about 8 feet tall. I couldn’t see any reasoning behind it.

Jesca Hoop went on stage, this time with only one backup singer (one of the two girls that went on stage with her in the previous show in L.A). Jesca’s music and voice seemed very “compatible” with the crowd. The crowd loved her, and she didn’t hesitate to mention that it’s mutual.

Few songs later, then the intermission, and then it’s Paul Crockford again making the announcement about recording policies, with his brilliantly‐sarcastic “Enjoy the show” at the end. I actually happen to like that speech. It’s short and to the point, and Paul’s “authoritative” voice really gives you the feeling that you don’t want to be recording anything here because this guy means business.

That didn’t prevent a certain person from attempting to record the show. Halfway across the show, Mark suddenly pointed his finger towards a person in the crowd. Nobody understood what the heck is going on, but being in all previous shows, I kinda had the feeling that he located a recorder and got a little pissed. A few seconds later, security approached that guy and I think he was kicked out of the venue but I’m not sure.

The show itself was very good. The sound was awesome and the set list identical to that of L.A.

The crowd seemed to have loved the show. especially the Dire Straits hits. Sultans of Swing seemed to have extracted the very best of that audience as not even one member of the crowd was seated.

Usual encore—4 songs—and now it was time to find a way to get out of there with my car. That venue is not car‐friendly at all, which goes pretty well in line with this town’s attitude of “Don’t Drink and Drive—Just Drink”. $20 for parking! and exiting that venue with a car was a nightmare, even when using a GPS and instructing it to find a detour around all busy intersections. Took me about 30 minutes before I left Berkeley.

Next show is in Jacksonville, Oregon. I’ve never heard of that place before. When I told people that the show is in Jacksonville, Oregon, they corrected me and told me “you mean Florida”. I had to convince them that there’s a Jacksonville in Oregon as well and that there are concerts there.

See you guys soon!