“So, have you ever seen Sting live?”
Yeah, we’ve seen Gordon. Twice, really. Once, years ago, at what we still think of as the best venue for large scale live music in the southeast (
RedOak Mountain Ampitheater in Birmingham, Alabama). Earlier than that — spring 1991 — at UNO Lakefront in New Orleans, though, was the definitive sighting.
Back then, before Sting became the punch line for Jaguar commercials, he was still interesting. He was touring in support of his last good record (The Soul Cages), and had fer-crying-out-loud Concrete Blonde opening for him. In that pre-Internet-as-we-know-it era, nobody in Tuscaloosa knew it was happening until I went back to Hattiesburg for spring break — and discovered, via a local record shop, what was happening the following evening in the Big Easy. My little brother and I quickly signed on, and then we called certain other Heathen at their ancestral home, and consequently he and a couple others (J.B. and M.E.) were screaming down I-10 from Florida to Louisiana.
They missed the true opener — a damned shame, since in all honestly we were bigger Concrete Blonde fans than Sting fans — but they got there in time to see something extraordinary. After the CB set and the requisite period of silence, the lights went down, followed by a simple follow-spot and two guys walking out on stage: a tall pale blonde dude, and a black guy with short dreads and a big-ass drum.
Sting started talking. He told us about how he’d wandered into a bar in Santa Monica or someplace months before, caught by the rain, and heard this guy. He went backstage. He, being Sting, got him a slot on his tour. He informed us that in half an hour or so, he’d be out to play his set; in the meantime, we were to listen to the dreadlock guy.
Dreadlock guy was Vinx. Nobody, mostly, knows who the hell he is even now, but at that moment in 1991, it was easy to believe he was about to be a big-ass star. He held the arena in his hand with an ease I’ve not yet seen again. The material he did was incredible and solid and true. I immediately bought his record, and then the follow up, and then. . .
. . . he vanished. Of course, he was still there. He just didn’t have major label support, or the exposure the comes with it. He’s still out there, but the records I know are now, criminally, out of print. This guy’s the real deal. See him if you have the chance. Buy what recordings you can. He’s real. I sit here, nearly 15 years after the first time I heard his voice at UNO Lakefront, and I still can’t believe how few people know how awesome he is.
So that’s what we’re telling you about this evening, shifting POV and all. Go. Buy. Listen.