Former Dire Straits rocker Alan Clark has joined forces with the band's one-time tour saxophonist to launch a new group called The Straits. British keyboardist Clark joined the Money For Nothing hitmakers in 1980 and remained a key member until frontman Mark Knopfler announced the band's split in 1995, and now he has called on fellow musician Chris White, who performed on the road with Dire Straits from 1985 to 1995, to play a series of live shows with him later this year (14). Clark reveals the idea for the mini-reunion has been two years in the making as the two musicians first discussed their plans while in Rome, Italy. He says, "Chris and I were having breakfast beside a pool one beautiful, sunny morning when I declared we were going to form The Straits." The duo has also recruited Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' drummer Steve Ferrone, singer Terrence Reis, bassist Mickey Feat and pianist Jamie Squire. Clark admits he and White almost formed the band exclusively from old Dire Straits members and associates. He adds, "We'd briefly considered using a line-up of ex Dire Straits players - and believe me, there were plenty of offers - but we decided to go our own way, to hand-pick the absolute best." The Straits will kick off a North American tour in Michigan on 28 February (14). Dire Straits co-founders, including frontman Mark Knopfler and bassist John Illsley, have yet to comment on the news.