critic's pick 103

sting: on a winter's night

sting: if on a winter's night

Nobody could pull off a record like If on a Winter’s Night… but the ol’ Sting-meister.

This isn’t to say exactly that designing a seasonal record far removed from Christmas music convention (and from Christmas itself, for that matter) to explore folk and literary traditions from five centuries is beyond the grasp of other artists. Certainly there are scores of rustic traditional ensembles out of England – the outstanding a cappella group The Watersons comes to mind – that have delved into such wintry fascination. But few possess the commercial clout Sting has at his fingertips to fashion a recording like this with such high profile possibilities.

Owing more to his 2006 Renaissance-flavored lute fest Songs from the Labyrinth than any of his pop recordings with or without The Police, Winter’s Night is light in musical tone but weighty and often brooding in its narrative detail. Electric instruments are scarce as Sting works with a core ensemble of acoustic guitar, cello, violin (from the extraordinary Newcastle traditionalist Kathryn Tickell) and recorder although the music regularly swells with jazz and Eastern references (like the mix of oud and harmonium on There is No Rose of Such Virtue). Similarly, the repertoire covers works by Henry Purcell, J.S. Bach, and Franz Schubert, newly designed music for a Robert Louis Stevenson poem (the dark and decidedly non-Yuletide Christmas at Sea) and a pair of Sting originals (including a melodeon-charged remake of The Hounds of Winter).

Sting may seem like he’s up a tree to many as he forges music that is not simply for winter but for the very dead of winter. The tightrope he walks between celebration of, as termed in the album’s liner notes, “a light and life at the centre of the darkness that is winter” and overly precious folky pretension is very fine.

But there is an undeniable appeal – intimacy, almost – in the icy, ancient atmosphere Sting creates. On The Hurdy Gurdy Man (not the ‘60s Donovan hit, but a mix of Schubert and a Wilhelm Miller poem), Sting sings with earnest weariness against an ever-so-slight arrangement of guitar, melodeon and violin. Ditto for the chamber-style stateliness he lends to Purcell’s Now Winter Comes Slowly.

Warmer in its wintry feel is the 17th century German hymn Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming by Michael Praetorius. Though adorned with an orchestral and choir arrangement, the song is colored just as profoundly by Tickell on Northumbrian pipes and the whispery moan that is Sting’s preferred vocal accent throughout the record.

Sure, a ghost of Christmas past is summoned when the melody of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen blows through the otherwise Halloween-themed Soul Cake. But that’s the extent of familiar holiday spirits on If on a Winter’s Night…, an album that serves more as a log in the fire for the frosty evenings ahead.


Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) June 3, 2009 | Walker, Melissa Byline: MELISSA WALKER; STAFF WRITER ANDOVER Andover Family Fun Fest Parade, craft show, 5k run/walk, beer garden, food vendors and live entertainment. July 10-11. Free. City Hall Complex, 1685 Crosstown Blvd. NW. 763-755-5100.

ANOKA Anoka Riverfest and Craft Fair More than 150 crafters and artisans will display and sell their wares, plus entertainment, skate competitions and boat rides. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 11. Downtown Anoka. 763-576-2700.

ANOKA COUNTY FAIR Live entertainment, tractor pull, midway rides, craft and animal exhibits. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. July 21-25; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. July 26. Anoka County Fairgrounds, 3203 NW. St. Francis Blvd.

BLAINE Blaine’s Blazin’ 4th Festival Carnival and live music, parade, craft show and vendor fair, helicopter rides, live music. June 26-28. Aquatore Park, 9191 NE. Lincoln St. Continues July 4 with an 8k run, 9 a.m., and fireworks, 9 p.m. at the National Sports Center, 1700 105th Av. NE.

BROOKLYN CENTER Earle Brown Days Parade, golf tournament, kids’ fishing contest, games, live entertainment, craft and business expo, ice cream social. Fireworks at 10 p.m. June 27. June 25-28. Central Park, 6301 Shingle Creek Pkwy. 763-569-3400. www.cityofbrooklyn

BROOKLYN PARK Tater Daze Parade at 6:30 p.m. June 18. Carnival, Spud Run, craft fair, sports tournaments, fireworks and live entertainment. Fireworks at 10 p.m. June 20. 5-11:30 p.m. June 19; 9 a.m.-11:30 p.m. June 20; noon-6 p.m. June 21. Noble Sports Park, 4701 97th Av.

CHAMPLIN Father Hennepin Festival Carnival, petting zoo, contests, bicycle stunt show, live entertainment and parade. Fireworks at 10:45 p.m. June 13 over Mill Pond. June 12-14. Free. Mississippi Point Park, 651 West River Rd.

COLUMBIA HEIGHTS Columbia Heights Jamboree Kids fishing clinic, carnival, parade, sports tournaments and “Heights Idol”; fireworks at dusk June 27. 5 p.m. June 25; 1 p.m. June 26-28. Huset Park, 3965 Jefferson St. 763-781-0527.

COON RAPIDS Coon Rapids JULY 4th Celebration Sponsored by the Coon Rapids Fire Fighters and Lions, featuring a midway. 3 p.m. July 2-3; noon July 4-5. Parade at 6 p.m. July 2. Fireworks 10 p.m. July 4. Sand Creek Athletic Field and Park, 940 NW. Northdale Blvd. 763-767-6565, ext. 601. in our site maple grove community center

FALCON HEIGHTS Back to the `50s Weekend More than 11,000 street rods, custom, classics and restored vehicles from 1964 and earlier. Automotive exhibits, craft fair, swap meet, musical concerts and more. 8 a.m.-10 p.m. June 19- 20; 6 a.m.- 3 p.m. June 21. $10. 12 and under free with each paid adult. State Fairgrounds, 1265 N. Snelling Av.

FRIDLEY Fridley `49er Days Street dances, tournaments, Run for Fun, car show, live entertainment and food concessions. Carnival at Fridley Community Center. 5-11 p.m. June 25; 9 a.m.-11 p.m. June 26-27. Fireworks June 27 at Commons Park, 10 p.m.

MAPLE GROVE Maple Grove Days Art fair, parade, games, live entertainment and fireworks. July 9-12. Maple Grove Community Center, 12951 Weaver Lake Rd.

MAPLEWOOD Maplewood JULY 4th Celebration All-American Lumberjack show, food vendors, inflatables, family games and fireworks at dusk. 5-10:30 p.m. July 4, Hazelwood Park, 1663 Cty. Rd. C.

RAMSEY COUNTY FAIR Live music, food, petting zoo, fireworks, carnival rides, parade. 5-11 p.m. July 8-9; noon-midnight July 10-11; noon-9:30 p.m. July 12. Free. Ramsey County Fairgrounds, Frost and White Bear Av.

New Hope Duk Duk Daze Kiddie parade, carnival rides, fireworks, live music and more. July 17-19. Northwood Park, 38th and Boon Avs. ROBBINSDALE Whiz Bang Days Carnival, block party, parade, sidewalk sale and live entertainment. Fireworks at dusk July 12. July 9-12. Lakeview Terrace Park, 3500 Beard Av. N.

ROSEVILLE Rosefest Live music, medallion hunt, wellness fair, disc golf tournament, parade, Run/Roll for the Roses, Taste of Rosefest and live entertainment. Various times and locations throughout Roseville. See website for detailed information. June 21-28.

FREEDOM FESTIVAL PARTY IN THE PARK Live music, kids games, a climbing wall, crafts, adult softball tournament, and fireworks at dusk. July 4. Central Park, Lexington Av. and County Rd. C. see here maple grove community center

SHOREVIEW Slice of Shoreview Art fair, live entertainment, carnival and petting zoo. July 24-26. Island Lake Park, 3655 N. Victoria St. 651-303-4667. www.

St. francis Pioneer Days Parade, live entertainment and craft vendors. June 12-14. St. Francis Community Park, along Hwy. 47, south of St. Francis Elementary.

ST. PAUL ST. ANTHONY PARK ARTS FESTIVAL More than 100 artists displaying pottery, fiber arts, jewelry and paintings. 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. June 6. St. Anthony Park Carnegie Library, 2245 Como Av. www

GRAND OLD DAY Live music, family fun area, children’s parade, teen battle of the bands, Minnesota RollerGirls, cultural arts and performances. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. June 7. On Grand Av. 651-699-0029.

TWIN CITIES JAZZ FESTIVAL June 18-20. Free concerts in Mears Park, 5th St. and Sibley. Additional charge for concerts at the Artists Quarter and Hat Trick Lounge. For complete information go to

RONDO DAYS FESTIVAL Parade, 5K walk/run, live music, food, vendors. Festival at 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. July 18. Martin Luther King Park, St. Paul, 270 N. Kent St. Drill team competition at 6 p.m. at St. Paul Central High School, 275 Lexington Pkwy. 651-646-6597. Irish Fair of Minnesota Irish music, sheep herding demonstrations, Run with the Celts, sports, food, marketplace and more. 3-11 p.m. Aug. 7; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Aug. 8; 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 9. Harriet Island, Plato Blvd. and Justus Ohage Blvd.

PABA FEST Ethnic dance performances, food and merchandise sales, and live entertainment. Held on Payne Av. between York and Jenks Sts. Noon-6 p.m. (Kids’ fun run, 11:30 a.m.) Sept. 12. 651-771-1152. STILLWATER Stillwater JULY 4th Fireworks Family activities and entertainment. Fireworks at 10 p.m. in downtown Stillwater. July 4. Free. Lowell Park, on Main St. 651-430-8800.

LUMBERJACK DAYS Music featuring national acts, the Stihl Timbersports Championships of professional lumberjacks, arts and crafts, 19th-century-style baseball and family activities. Fee for some music concerts. Thunder in the Valley fireworks spectacular at 10:05 p.m. July 26. Festival held July 23-26. Lowell Park, on Main St.

VADNAIS HEIGHTS TASTE OF VADNAIS Foods from local restaurants and eateries, music by John Evans, Dan Perry and Friends, and other family entertainment. 6-9 p.m. June 11. City Hall, 800 E. Cty. Rd. E.

VADNAIS HEIGHTS DAY IN THE PARK Ice cream social and entertainment by Sticks and Tones. 6:30-8 p.m. July 8. Community Park, 661 E. Cty. Rd. F.

HERITAGE DAYS AND BOOYA Senior picnic, pig roast, live music, car show, medallion hunt (begins Aug. 10), parade, fire truck rides, and entertainment and games. Aug. 12-16. Community Park, 661 E. County Rd. F. 651-204-6000.

WHITE BEAR LAKE MARKETFEST Held in downtown White Bear Lake, this event includes fine art, live entertainment, children’s activities, farmers market and more. 6-9 p.m. Thursdays June 18-July 30. Downtown White Bear Lake, 4701 Hwy 61.

Melissa Walker – 612-673-4461 Walker, Melissa

Comments are closed.

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | About Our Ads | Copyright