I am home again after a great evening with friends. I met up with my buddy Dan and we drove to Ann Arbor. We had dinner with Joseph from Corpus Callusum (and his wife? girlfriend? friend? I never thought to ask) and Shelley from Retrospectacle. I had never met either of them before and it was a pleasure to meet some of my fellow ScienceBloggers. Unfortunately, we had to leave far too early to make sure we got tickets to the show, but as it turned out that would not have been a problem. We were disappointed to find out that we could have spent another hour talking with the three of them and letting dinner settle before going.
The show was great, as always. This really is a strange coincidence, but my friend Dan actually went to school with Vinx’ brother, Les. They all grew up in Kansas City and went to the same high school, but Vinx is a bit older. His brother, like Dan, is an attorney. So I introduced Dan to Vinx and they got to chat about his brother and swap some stories of home. It was good to see Vinx back at The Ark, which is the place I first saw him play about 15 years ago.
He brought an opening act with him this time, a wonderful singer named Doria Roberts. I had never heard of her before, but she was really, really good. She began by announcing that she was in a melancholy mood, but assured us that it was okay, at least she’d get a song out of it. Despite that, she turned in a powerful set that was part music, part performance art, part political agitation. I remarked to Dan after she left the stage that it’s sad to watch someone that talented, someone with so much to say that’s worth hearing, struggle to get heard while prepackaged mediocrities like Britney Spears are dominating the news and cashing hundred million dollar checks.
One thing that tied Doria and Vinx together, other than both being from Georgia at the moment, is that they both posses that remarkable ease in front of an audience that can only come from being comfortable in one’s own skin. In both cases, these are performers who are doing what they love to do and who are being who they are with no affectation or pretense. They inspire by inviting you in to their world without the kind of separation you find in most music. It feels as though you’re not watching someone up on a stage performing for you as much as you’re eavesdropping on the thoughts in their head, laid bare for all to see and hear.
There’s an intimacy there that is missing from most music, and that intimacy is palpable before the show even starts. It’s evident the moment you say hi to Vinx and he greets you with a big hug and says, “Man, it’s been too long since I’ve been around here. It’s great to see you again.” You can feel it during the show as he banters with the audience and invites people to come visit him in Georgia (and he actually means it). You can feel it after the show as he wraps sweaty arms around so many people he recognizes because, like me, they’ve been at every show he’s put on within drivable range for the last 15 years. You can feel it before you even get in the door as you talk to others in line and they ask you how you first heard Vinx and talk about how the music has moved them and inspired them.
So thanks to Vinx for another great show and for bringing along Doria and introducing us to another major talent. Thanks to Joseph and Shelly for good conversation at dinner. And thanks to Dan for the hospitality, especially for allowing me to spend the night at Casa del Ray in the Suite Whose Name We Dare Not Speak. I did manage to avoid the potentially fatal implements hanging from the ceiling and get a good night’s sleep before driving home.