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Sting Plays Lute on TV

October 10, 2006

And... it's on purpose. As '80s rockers age, they're getting mighty inventive. Sting, formerly of The Police and the man who wailed "Roxanne," is out with an album of lute music that sounds, pretty much, like a cross between '80s pop and the Renaissance - and he's performing everywhere, from the Today Show to late night. Songs from the Labyrinth is out on Deutsche Grammophon - a hardcore classical label - and Sting is joined by Edin Karamazov, a bonafide lute virtuoso. What's up with that? Sting singing Latin with his lute?

What's next, Anonymous 4 singing bluegrass? Well, yes. The female quartet known for their a capella renditions of medieval music have teamed up with Darol Anger and Scott Nygaard for a tour roughly around Gloryland, the Harmonia Mundi CD the group recorded with Anger and Mike Marshall that concentrates on spirituals.

The strangest pairing I've heard about recently, though, may be Cindy Cashdollar and Rod Stewart. No, they're not dating (although with Rod, anything is possible), but she is out on tour with him following the release of Still the Same today, a collection of (wait for it) classic rock hits of the mostly '80s that obviously benefit from Cashdollar's stellar steel guitar work.

So, who's next? I have calls into Bono and Joshua Bell - they seem likely candidates.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at October 10, 2006 9:36 AM


No too much a stretch for Gordon Sumners. I'm convinced that he could do anything he put his mind to - the man's a musical and lyrical genius.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at October 10, 2006 11:06 AM

Given the tantric rumours - really nothing is too much of a stretch!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 11, 2006 9:05 AM

I really want to make a joke - but it's not proper, so I'll just have to hold it in.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at October 11, 2006 9:25 AM

Sting is an amazing talent, but he's awfully pretentious as well.

Posted by: Robert J. Burford at October 11, 2006 9:55 AM

I found Cindy Cashdollar’s pairing with Rod Stewart a little surprising, but not really strange. Cindy’s the consummate professional “sideguy” and has shown that she can seamlessly fall in with just about anyone, in any genre, who needs steel guitar or Dobro on their tunes – from Asleep at the Wheel, BeauSoleil, and Leon Redbone, to Ryan Adams and Bob Dylan…and more recently Van Morrison and Rod Stewart. Go Cindy.

Posted by: Linda Fahey at October 11, 2006 5:23 PM

I honestly hadn't noticed Sting was pretentious...

I'm waiting for the Katie Melua/Iggy Pop pairing. That and Rufus Wainright/Courtney Love...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 13, 2006 3:03 PM

No flies on Sting. But if he gets a classical Grammy out of this, the Folger Consort will have to beat him up. Or spike their hair.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at October 13, 2006 3:29 PM

"Sting tied up in string quartet smack-down"

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at October 13, 2006 4:28 PM

Is that a tongue twister, Ann? Say that ten times fast! Whew!

Posted by: Shannon McDaniel at October 13, 2006 6:40 PM

Say it ain't so! After all that furor, I don't see Chad Elliott listed among the performers on the schedule. Did something happen? Have they got him wedged in somewhere opening for an opening act? I thought there'd be a little more buzz for our very own Last Man Standing...

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at October 14, 2006 3:09 PM

Wrong thread, yup.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at October 14, 2006 3:10 PM

Hey Joan, why would they (the Folger Consorts) have to spike their hair? Didn't Sting finally go Bald?

Posted by: Robin Roderick at October 14, 2006 7:35 PM

So I just went to Sting's website to get a load of how bald he's gotten. I got stuck on the sample cuts from Labyrinth, and oh my, some folks sure can put over a Dowland air. Likee. And I had some snarky comments all ready to go about how simple some of the Labyrinth selections are, like the Rennaissance equivalent of Skip to my Lou. But no, now I have to get the damn album.

I'm a huge Folger Consort fan (most of their good hair years are behind them too), and I've had a Rennaissance lute since 1979 or so. Can't get the hang of it, can't bear to sell it. Maybe Sting's new hobby will shine some light on groups like Folger and help their sales, a rising tide lifting all boats. Hope so.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at October 14, 2006 8:00 PM

My old Dad - an Associate of the Royal College of Music no less! got the Sting album today for his 70th birthday. My Mum just phoned. After the huge family curry, fireworks, singing and general overindulgence with screaming toddlers and much swilling of scotch, we all went home and they are now on their third replay of the album.
Last time he did that was over Steeleye Span's Rocket Cottage, the time before that, Abbey Road. Never a trendsetter my Dad, but a hell of a musician. Think I'll get me a copy. Then I'll buy him a copy of Regatta de Blanc!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 22, 2006 7:00 PM

Anyway he's not getting bald - he's just been polishing the hair off on the headboard...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 22, 2006 7:02 PM

Huw-- Uh, not commenting on that last bit, but I was talking to the clerk at my nearby Barnes & Nobels about the Sting CD and was praising the musicianship on the album. I'm sure we have it around here, but I'm just not sure where yet. BTW, I also talked the clerk (who was quite tall and had a lovely Scottish accent) into listening the Anonymous 4/Darol Anger Gloryland project. And I dropped the name about 40 times. Never let it be said that I don't work it for all it's worth.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at October 23, 2006 10:33 AM

That's Sting not my Dad!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 23, 2006 8:26 PM


Posted by: Huw Pryce at October 23, 2006 8:26 PM

funny you should mention Bono in this manner because I just heard a sample on NPR of him singing a duo with Tony Bennett and I have to say... it was simply AWFUL. no tone. no TUNE! the pitch was horrendous... I like U2. but that recording is just awful. wow.

Posted by: Mazz Swift at November 3, 2006 2:37 PM

Definite mispairing. More to do with vocal quality than ability - like a harp-gazoo duet.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 4, 2006 10:48 AM

I've had the album for about a week now and have listened to it several times front to back. Sting's singing is luscious, and singing is what I've mostly kind of hated about Renaissance music in the past. Usually it sounds kind of overblown and stilted, making it impossible to connect with emotionally. But Sting's vocals couldn't be more engaging, and the two lutes are lovely. If I can find a guitar version of Flow My Tears I want to learn it, vocals too.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at November 24, 2006 8:14 PM

I think rock and folk voices are often better suited to earlier music. More operatic, classical voices can be painful and over-formal, like watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir attempting a bit of early Elvis.
On the other hand the kind of Court music Sting is working with here, might actually have been very highly stylized - if you live in a draughty hall with rushes and dog crap on the floor, you eat off wooden plates and have a life expectancy of 45 if you live into your teens - you might want to hear something almost inhumanly artificial. In our modern lives we want to see a bit of spit and sawdust occasionally. Terry Pratchett pointed out that most medieval people would be more interested in a world where you don't die of toothache than in democracy.
Tastes change. I do agree with you though Joan - this seems more approachable than some pro classical vocalist would.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at November 30, 2006 11:00 AM

Y'know - I just googled the Terry Pratchett quote to see if I could find it using "die of toothache", the only reference I found was this one from five years ago!

Hi there Folk Alley.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at December 7, 2011 6:20 PM

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