The Balmy South.

As temperature differentials seem to be the hot topic of the week, Winnipeg has an extreme hemiboreal or humid continental climate with temperatures ranging from 42.2 °C (108 °F) to −47.8 °C (−54.0 °F). Thankfully, today’s temperature is just about exactly midway between the two, a sultry high of 1 °C. And it’s snowing.  The hotel room view as I woke this morning was not exactly inviting.



The underground walkways beckoned for any expedition outside of the hotel today. Paul and I did venture out onto the street briefly today in search of a couple of new Briggs and Riley acquisitions. We walked all of three blocks, that was enough. The wind chill was well below freezing but by that time of day it had stopped snowing, the storm now having passed through. We found a great luggage store call UN Luggage and came away with a couple of new Briggs and Riley pieces. Anyone who travels regularly will (or should) know about Briggs and Riley, it’s the best luggage there is and each piece comes with a lifetime warranty.

Mark poses with the legendary 579 series Peterbilt trucks




One of the band buses




Not long after I’d made a few packing rearrangements, we checked out and were met by our buses for this leg of the tour. Most of the journeys will be done by bus, just as we did in Europe last year. The venue was less than a mile away so we were there in no time. The crew boys were ready for us of course and we were soundchecking and rearing to go by 5:30. Our first foray into catering where we were treated to some sublime ribs, a quick vocal warm-up, dust off the stage gear, insert in-ears and before we knew it we heard the familiar cry of Paul Crockford’s ‘ring-announcer’ style introduction…”good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Winnipeg…Mark Knopfler”.

The show was fabulous. The crowd gave us a great welcome and were with us the whole way. We finished our set and were back in the dressing room before we knew what happened. We must have had fun up there as time seemed to fly by. A couple of points worthy of mention during the show tonight. Mike’s debut as an acoustic guitarist…AND drummer! and Ian’s debut on the washboard. And while I think of it, probably mine too, on ukulele. I used to play it a lot at meet and greets but I’m not sure if ever on the big stage.

The after show bus journey was a cold and windswept 357 miles so we settled in and our drivers, Jason and Sean took us out of town and on towards the the capital of Saskatchewan, Regina. We were all blissfully unaware, enjoying our first post-show session with a few bottles of Pinot Noir and a selection of plastic cups, (the bus has a marble floor and very slippery tabletops, so the drivers choose not to use glass. Solutions to this irksome problem will no doubt appear in tomorrow’s diary entry) that we were about to cross into ‘Mountain’ time. Amazingly, Canada is spread across SIX time zones. Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland Standard. I think only Russia, boasting eight zones can compete in that department. It’s quite sobering when you look at Saskatchewan on Google maps and then zoom out to reveal the more Northern provinces such as Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nanavut. The sheer size of this country is breathtaking and I can only imagine how cold it gets up there!

Cruising happily along the balmy South we soon recalled that US tour buses have larger and dare I say it, more comfortable bunks so it wasn’t long before we were all fast asleep.