WUMB October Program Guide

Mark Knopfler – Underrated Virtuoso

Eric Clapton was considered a guitar God…at least according to a famous bit of graffiti painted on a London wall in 1966.  So where does that put a virtuoso player like Mark Knopfler? Is it blasphemous to hold Knopfler on equal footing with Clapton? This is one of those arguments that can go on indefinitely among guitar-player aficionados. Can you really choose between a Stratocaster and a Les Paul?

It’s a tough question to answer.  Knopflers’ work with Dire Straits was always creative, blending traditional and progressive styles all at the same time. His guitar work would guide them through any and all sounds.  Under the Rock and Roll umbrella, Dire Straits managed to infuse bits of jazz, folk and blues.  They were able to do this because of their leader and songwriter, Mark Knopfler. (Watch this clip of Knopfler with Dire Straits-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENJlmnqxZUQ).

As Knopflers’ career progressed from Dire Straits to a successful solo career, he did not lose his genius, originality or creativity.  His solo work has allowed him to expand his creative instincts and follow his muse ever more.  His 2006 collaboration , “All the Roadrunning” with Emmylou Harris was so seamless you would think that they had been playing together for 30 years! The interplay of their voices and his guitar work led to a record that sounds timeless and familiar from the first listen.   Now Knopfler is getting ready to release his next album, titled “Tracker” (release date is March 17th in North America).  Personally, I cannot wait to hear the new album! WUMB is already playing the first single, “Beryl.”  Sure, it has a bit of the classic Dire Straits sound, yet it sounds fresh and new all the same.

I’ve always loved his laid-back and unassuming style, both in his playing and singing. His sound is HIS sound. He just goes out and plays.  For years I’d wondered why Knopfler doesn’t get put into the same category of some other guitar greats like Chet Atkins, (watch as Knopfler and Chet go head to head, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wTVLIZaxMk), Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Paco de Lucia, to name a few.  Simply put, I think it’s because of him.  He is far from flashy; you won’t see him lighting his guitar on fire or playing behind his head.  The man simply plays. I’ve been fortunate to see him perform live, and when you see him in concert, you find yourself drawn into his guitar playing, at times even mesmerized by it. He’s that good.

What’s your take? Who would you consider to be an underrated player? I’d love to hear your feedback—feel free to shoot me an email.

Talk with you in the morning,



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