Zamboni Baloney…

There’s something about the weather in Scandinavia at the moment which is making it difficult to get out of bed in the mornings. I’m not sure that we’ve seen the sun for a whole week. It’s grey, grey and more grey, so different from our usual Summer touring weather, especially here. It kind of detracts a little from just how beautiful the countryside is when you can’t see it. Anyway, with the usual morning tasks out of the way, bags were once again packed and we were off to the venue in Malmö for the first time. I’m pretty sure Dire Straits never played here although I’m perfectly willing to be corrected if that’s not the case. In fact Paul Crockford, Mark’s manager, who announces us onto the stage said with misplaced confidence last night “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome back to Malmo, Mark Knopfler…”




We were at the venue earlier than usual and Mark and Richard set about their guitar clinic session, I wandered the arena looking for photo opportunities which were (to cite a much loved and well used British meteorologists phrase) ‘few and far between’. This arena is obviously mostly used for ice hockey as the ice was evident as I walked past the ice resurfacing machinery. I was with Glenn Worf who referred to them as Zamboni’s. The Zamboni name has been used as a genericized trademark for ice resurfacers ever since Frank J. Zamboni moved to Southern California in 1920. 20 years later, in 1940, opened an ice skating rink with his brother Lawrence and their cousin. To maintain the ice they used a tractor and pulled a scraper behind it. They would then hose down the ice, squeegee it, and wait for the ice to freeze again. Frank Zamboni wanted a way to speed up this process. In 1949, the first Zamboni machine, the Model A, was created. The blade in the front of the machine scrapes along the ice. The ice is collected and temporarily stored in the snow tank, the large area that makes up the back of the machine. Hot water then rinses the ice, which is squeegeed to make it even, and the dirty water is collected vacuumed, and cleaned. Finally, clean water is sprayed onto the ice. Clever.

As far as the banjo was concerned, today I figured I’d do the honorable thing and go and practice on the bus so as not to disturb anyone. Wolfgang, our double driver was in the upstairs lounge and kindly left me to it. It was only when I’d finished my clawing and popping session that I asked where Carl was. Wolfgang said “he’s sleeping”. Aaargh! poor Carl.

Some Swedish Zambonis



Another sold out show, the first of two in Sweden and a fabulous audience once more. We played our set and then Mark played four further tunes with Bob and we were on the road again by 10pm. The 8 hour drive that lie ahead is I think the longest of the tour but is of course nothing by American standards. Nevertheless, we picked at some rather cold and greasy Indian take-away starters, had a few drinks and bedded down for the journey. The bunks on our bus, I think I mentioned before, have windows. A breakthrough development in bunk technology except that at about 3:30am, I was woken by a loud ‘thump’. Pete was in the bunk behind me and his window frame had fallen out and hit him on the head. It’s a new bus and still has a few minor teething problems. The suspension however is quite amazing. Carl tells me that it has a full 36″ of manual travel, ie. you can set the ride height of the bus to anywhere within that range. Carl calls it his little girl. Bus love. The road was at first smooth and swift but three or so hours into the ride, it got quite bumpy and unpleasant. Now I’m sure the crew boys reading this will be muttering the word “poof” under their breath at me as I’m sure it was nothing like some of the roads the boys endured on some of the drives on the last tour in Eastern Europe. I used to go up to bleary eyed crew members and ask how their journey was, only to learn that they’d been up all night, physically trying to stop themselves from being thrown out of the bunks. Thankfully, no such issues here and I’m sure they all slept well last night.

Space shippy thingy…


After seven hours of intermittent shut-eye, we arrived at the Lydmar hotel in Sodra, Stockholm. A worn down office building converted into a hotel with tastefully decorated rooms overlooking the stream, the royal palace, Nybroviken and Strandvägen. Liberated from formalities and conservative stiffness, the Lydmar is a hotel with a dynamic philosophy although I’m not quite sure what it is. We were greeted by a couple of rather trendy looking bellmen…actually I’m thinking one of them was the manager. Anyway, they were extremely helpful and we were all in our rooms by 4:30am. The next task being to get some more sleep.

I thought it was hard getting up this morning…wait ’till tomorrow……