||The Dire Straits are what I've come to recognize as my all-time favorite band (even superceding The Band in this capacity). Saw Mark Knopfler perform in a state-of-the-art symphony hall with fantastic acoustics a few months ago and was absolutely mesmerized -- it was a dream come true.
I lived in New Orleans from '92-95, relocating there on a whim, mostly because Zachary Richard, Beausoleil, Marcia Ball, Buckwheat Zydeco and the subdudes caught my ears and my imagination at the annual arts & music fest in Seattle in September of '91. I had two suitcases, a saxophone and a one-way ticket; it was an adventure I'll never regret.
I am fortunate enough to have a group of friends I play with every now and then, some of whom I've known for 20 years or so. That they let me join them on stage humbles me; what I lack in expertise/virtuosity I seem to make up for with enthusiasm and spontaneity. ;) While my exploration of music may be somewhat stalled these days, I've learned to play and sing with greater feeling (piano being my other lifelong on-again/off-again love affair).
The bands/artists noted are worth exploring, however; opportunities for growth are always worthy of consideration. (About the only things I will not listen to these days are what passes for modern "Country & Western" and "gangsta rap" -- that just leaves more for someone else to enjoy, I figure.