Watch the show's opening...
After spending a relaxing day at their homes in California for Thanksgiving, the troupe is winging their way to Texas today for shows this weekend in Austin and The Woodlands, followed by a hop up to Ohio for a Sunday night performance in Akron.
On a rare day off Monday, November 30, Mindi flys to New York City where she will be sitting in with the Roots on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Then it's back to business with shows in Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, a return to New York and Pennsylvania. The East Coast portion of the tour concludes with five nights in Florida. Finally, it's back to the West with five shows in California, a side trip to Washington and the tour finale in Arizona.
The show includes traditional holiday songs along with music from Mindi, Rick and Peter's latest albums. It's a tradition many MindiWorld members attend year after year.
To get you in the mood, here is the finale to the show from several few years ago. Peter's daughter and Rick's children also join in.
The album, recorded during the 2014 tour, captures the energy and fun of the live performance. The tracks include:
I Can't Wait For Christmas
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
The Little Drummer Boy
Santa Claus is Coming to Town/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Happy Christmas/O Holy Night
The CD will be available at all shows during the 2015 tour, beginning on December 4. You can also preorder it on Peter White's website.
Out of almost 100 acts listed, only nine featured one or more females, with just one woman gracing the main stage over the entire event. In anyone�s book, such disparity is unacceptable. Cynics may suggest it na�ve to expect otherwise at a standard rock festival, but to such an extent? Surely not.
To be clear, this is NOT an issue exclusive to Reading and Leeds. Check out the line-ups of most major festivals across the UK and a desperately similar pattern starts to emerge. Glastonbury, V Festival, Isle of Wight, T in the Park etc. all feature a disconcertingly disproportionate amount of male-only acts.
Nor is it an issue exclusive to the festival circuit. Inequality of the sexes has been rife across the music industry for decades; an age-old imbalance perpetuated by the patriarchal mores of society at large. Which, in many ways, is what makes it all the more shocking that things haven�t progressed to something approaching parity in the music world.
In most instances, creative industries offer, or claim to offer, an alternative to the constructs and confines of wider society, particularly in the case of the music industry: the peace and love movement of the �60s; the anti-establishment ethos of punk in the �70s; acid house in the �80s; all offered a subculture to the mainstream and upheld messages of liberalism, equality and freedom of expression. Astounding, then, that after over half a century of radical musical movements, we�ve not been able to sufficiently address the issue of gender inequality.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that a more even gender balance in the industry would be welcomed with open arms, yet there remains a dinosauric core that has yet to sufficiently evolve to the point of accepting women as equal. From professional musicians to retailers and high-ranking industry execs, there is a worrying number of women that have experienced first-hand the Neanderthal attitudes of a minority reluctant to move with the times.
Mindi Abair, a two-time Grammy nominee and internationally renowned Saxophonist, is one such example. Throughout her career, she has performed with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Duran Duran, Aerosmith, Joe Perry and a whole host of others, yet, despite her obvious talent, was initially discouraged from playing music by her male tutor.
�The first time I encountered gender discrimination was in my last year in high school,�Abair explains. �I was asked to audition for The University of Miami Music School. I drove down and walked into the professor�s office ready to play for him. He looked at me and said bluntly, �girls don�t make it at this school. I won�t let you into the jazz department. I might let you into the education department.� I was so deflated. I asked if I could play for him to change his mind. He said I could, but it wouldn�t change his mind. I played. And I didn�t get in. But I looked at that day as a charge to be able to come back to him in the future and say �hey, I made something of myself and you should have let me in along with a bunch of other women you probably turned away that were stellar musicians�.�
Abair also believes that it is the duty of women to define and represent themselves as artists in order to break through in the industry.
�The music industry doesn�t always showcase women in the best light. Rap videos have become known for the scantily clad women dancing around as merely sexual objects. I think that the women in those videos are as much to blame as the industry that placed them there. We as women have to respect ourselves. We need to believe in ourselves and put ourselves in situations or create situations that foster respect. It�s up to us. We are not beholden to any record label or manager to tell us who we are and what we should do. We need to have enough faith in ourselves to create great music, do it on our terms and not apologise for it. We don�t need to be anyone�s play toy. It�s up to us to define and police who we are and what we stand for.�
All shows will be held at each city's Neiman Marcus store on the following dates:
|Atlanta|| ||November 11 - 12|
|Northbrook|| ||November 14 - 15|
|Austin|| ||November 27|
Considering that the holidays are just around the corner, selections from the line will make terrific gifts for the Mindi fan in your life.
Who are The Boneshakers? They are a killin blues band that released two albums and tears it up at festivals and clubs when the members aren�t touring with other bands. Randy Jacobs is the one you know. You�ve seen him on stun guitar with Summer Horns, Boney James, Warren Hill, Rick Braun and, well, everybody. He and vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson hit it off while they were working with Was Not Was back in the 80�s. They went on their separate ways touring and recording with an eclectic dream list of artists until Jacobs decided to put together a blues rock band and Atkinson called and said he wanted to be a part of it. They parted one more time to pursue other projects then as serendipity would have it, Atkinson was available when the band�s other vocalist departed. Fast Forward to Newport Jazz Festival a year or so ago. The Boneshakers are on the bill. So is Mindi. It�s only natural for her to step onstage and jam with the band. She has just released the groundbreaking rock�n�blues Wild Heart. More serendipity. �Electricity� as she says in the press release, �Everybody played with complete abandon.� They already shared band members, the chemistry and energy could not be denied. They had to do this thing together. Studio walls couldn�t hold it. It had to be live.
Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers Live in Seattle is all about complete abandon. And turning it up. And risking speeding tickets if you play it in your car. The energy literally jumps outta the speakers from the opening guitar lick of the Jacobs penned, Hendrix influenced intro that segues into the perfect opener: a powerful no-holds-barred version of �Wild Heart� that has Mindi and Jacobs in full shred mode. �Haute Sauce� is a retro jazz funk breakdown reminiscent of Eddie Harris� classic �Cold Duck� driven by Third Richardson�s backbeat and some tasty piano riffing from Rodney Lee. In front of this Mindi just goes off � wailing and squaking off the chain but with the control of a blues soul veteran. Lee has a bright moments throughout and his solo on Abair�s collaboration with B3 hero Booker T. Jones �Make It Happen� does the man who singlehandedly defined the B3 in the blues rock realm. �Flirt� had an airplay incarnation as a high octane funk vamp with the reins pulled in and held tight. She cut it loose in live performances and this band amped it up even more, turning it into the song it was meant to be � a piece of blues funk heaven reimagined by a rhythmic shift in the bass line, Jacobs in hard rock mode, Abair�s soulful strut and the band�s showcase solos. And, if you think it takes a big belting voice to sing the blues her vocals on �Gone� and �I Can�t Lose� are gonna bust that assumption. She sings with conviction and a big wallop of attitude as she�s in get the message mode whether it�s shouting to the world on �Can�t Lose� or giving the big bye bye to a disappointing romantic partner on �Gone.� And the blues? It�s all over the album in the gritty soloing and the unbridled power and at it�s most pure when Sweet Pea Atkinson steps up front for �Ball and Chain� and the Boneshakers� original �Cold Sweat.� Backing this bluesman takes the whole band up another blastin� out bluesed out notch. We love you guys so much..she says at the end of a big bang wrapup. You can feel that love for the music, the audience, and each other just blasting from your speakers.
This is what the smooth police missed when they tried to smother us into relaxation oblivion: the timeless and universal appeal of blues rock music and � this is big � the fact that we boomers never intended to settle into our parents� easy listening �grownup music.� When we blared Hendrix in our bedrooms and cranked up Clapton riffing on John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters in our dorm rooms they told us we would outgrow it. We didn�t and it�s about time someone had enough of a wild, brave heart to gather a group of world class musicians who live this stuff too and hit us one time, two times, 14 times with this year�s version of the music we love.
Sinatra: An American Icon is presented in cooperation with the Sinatra Family, Frank Sinatra Enterprises, and the Frank Sinatra Collection, USC School of Cinematic Arts, and features many artifacts from the Sinatra Family�s personal collection. The exhibition includes rare concert and interview footage, personal correspondence, private photos, awards, and other memorabilia, as well as music.
Jacob Bryant of Variety wrote "The night ended with Sinatra�s music performed by saxophonist Mindi Abair, �Family Guy� creator Seth MacFarlane and Michael Buble. This echoed the late Sinatra�s words that (Max) Weinberg quoted at the beginning of the night."
�May you live to be a hundred years old and the last voice you hear be Frank Sinatra,� he said.
Mindi remarked, "What a beautiful night paying tribute to Frank Sinatra. I sang Ella Fitzgerald's "Too Darn Hot" and Frank's "Come Back To Me".
And she brought out her sax to play Sinatra's "Only the Lonely".
The gala benefitted the Grammy Foundation. The Frank Sinatra exhibit runs through February 2016.
o Wild Heart � spiritual styling with crystals in semi precious stones and diamonds
o Stars � starbursts and celestial sparkling diamonds are the center of this collection
o Nouveau � art deco inspired champagne rosecut diamonds and opalescent stones
o Always � silver and champagne diamond not so basic basics
Mindi Abair Jewelry has been featured in trunk shows across the country. To date the line has been shown in Mequon and in Neiman Marcus stores in Charlotte and Houston, with more to be announced shortly. Mindi's partner Carrie Dawes tells us that "Sales associates love the product - that's a good sign!!"
Here are just a few of the new pieces. You can view them all at mindiabairjewelry.com.
Mindi joined Sheila E, Kat Dyson, Cassandra O'Neal and Rhonda Smith in a band called C.O.E.D (Chronicles Of Every Diva), playing the Blue Note Club in Tokyo.
For Tampa Bay locals, Mindi Abair is a household name. Born in St. Petersburg, FL, she is practically a permanent fixture of Clearwater Jazz Holiday, returning year after year to play her unique blend of jazz, blues, and rock.
This year she hit the stage with The Boneshakers and Sweet Pea Atkinson, returning afterwards to do a song with Buddy Guy. The saxophone and the guitars did a lot of the singing that night, which was a good thing. Hats off to Mindi Abair, Randy Jacobs (of The Boneshakers), and Buddy Guy.
Great to get some home town love coming back to play the Clearwater Jazz Holiday with my band and then sitting in with Buddy Guy!
What do you learn about yourself from the Rock n� Roll culture and what does Jazz & Blues mean to you?
When I started playing music, I never thought of myself as a rock or jazz or blues player. I just sang and played the sax and had a blast. I grew up listening to rock �n� roll and R&B and that music definitely defined who I was as a player and performer. I aspired to be Heart, Blondie or Tina Turner and rock out with Aerosmith or Bruce Springsteen. As a sax player, though, you have to delve into jazz at some point, or you�re not paying attention to a huge part of the instrument�s heritage. I found jazz in college, when my classmate asked me if I was into contemporary jazz or traditional jazz. I was just into music. I had no idea of the monikers. He started playing me Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane. I loved it all and thought of it as blues and rock �gone to college�. I wanted to learn. I wanted to expand my repertoire and vocabulary as an instrumentalist.
As a solo artist, I hear all these influences in my playing and writing. Much of my music is rock and soul based. There are a few jazzy moments here and there. But the majority of the feel and approach is very much rock/pop and r&b/soul driven.
This new cd �LIVE In Seattle� is very blues/rock driven� much more so than my previous records. My CD �Wild Heart�, which came out last year was very soul and rock driven, featuring Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Keb� Mo�, Booker T. Jones, Max Weinberg, Waddy Wachtel and Trombone Shorty. I made some big changes in my band, and it really affected the intent and tone of the music I was playing. I�m loving every second of this high energy set that we play. We really captured the feel of our live show and the sheer abandon of it with this recording.
How do you describe Mindi Abair sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?
I look at each CD I release as a snapshot of where I am in my life. I write from my experiences, and that translates differently to the music with each chapter of my life. My first few solo records were pretty shiny pop. I had come off the road touring with The Backstreet Boys and Mandy Moore and Duran Duran. I was immersed in super pop! A few records in, my music started to feel a bit more organic and more rootsy. My In Hi Fi Stereo CD definitely hearkened back to the soul of the 60�s and 70�s. And more recently, I had a few years of a lot of rock �n� roll and very organic music. I was the featured saxophonist for 2 seasons of American Idol. I took off for a summer tour with Aerosmith as their first saxophonist since 1973. I also got the chance to play with Bruce Springsteen for one nightat the famed Beacon Theater right after Clarence Clemons (a huge influence for me) passed away. I took all that energy and power and put it into my own career. I made �Wild Heart� and it was very rock influenced, with songs like �Kick Ass� that Joe Perry joined me for. That record made me rethink my live band, and I made some changes. My friend Randy Jacobs joined me on guitar, and after sitting in with his band The Boneshakers one afternoon at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, we took his whole band out as my band. Hence, Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers Live in Seattle! I decided to just roll tape one night in Seattle because this band was so killer, and it was magic. That�s what you�re hearing with my new cd.
I�ve recorded, toured and collaborated with so many artists representing so many styles of music. I�m the luckiest person in the world to be surrounded by such talent and true artistry. I don�t care about labels or boundaries or preconceptions with music. I just want to play and create and keep moving forward.
Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice has given you?
I�ve learned so much from all the artists I�ve played with through the years. In the early days of my career, I was a sideman and I played in some incredible bands from Bobby Lyle to Duran Duran, The Backstreet Boys, Keb� Mo�, Mandy Moore, Teena Marie, Jonathan Butler and The Gap Band. You have to delve into an artist�s music when you�re playing for them, and for me that gave me a depth of musical knowledge to draw from for my career. I also had to find myself in each of these artists shows and music. And that helped teach me who I am as an artist.
I think the best advice I got was early on. I was in high school and I wanted to be in the Florida All State Jazz Band. There were these elite bands that they chose people from all over the state to be in. There was a Symphonic band and a Jazz Band. I wanted nothing to do with the Symphonic Band. I wanted to play with the cool kids! So I started practicing, but I realized I really didn�t know what I was doing playing jazz. I didn�t really know what it all was. I just loved to play. So I gave up thinking that there were guys that were going to play so much better than me� why should I even try? My father came in and talked me into auditioning. He called me a quitter, and I didn�t like that! So I tried out, and I got 1st chair alto saxophone in the Florida Allstate Jazz Band. I was stunned. My father said, �Sometimes it�s not the most talented people that get what they want. It�s the people who put themselves on the line and try and go for it day in and day out. Remember that.� Thinking back, those were very wise words! I�ve worked for it and put myself out there ever since.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
I love the days when saxophone was as integral an instrument as the guitar. Think back to early blues and rock �n� roll. I mean, Junior Walker and King Curtis topped the Pop Charts, not the jazz charts. Saxophone has been relegated to a jazz instrument now, and I hate that. I miss the grit and the power of that era of saxophone. Let sax be a main instrument and rock! I�d like to be a part of bringing that spirit back to music and to the modern idea of saxophone.
If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
I�d love to see musicians/writers/performers get paid what they�re worth. When I started out as a recording artist, if you had a hit, you got paid as a writer and for your mechanical royalties. Now� just about 15 years later, my royalties have diminished by 90% easily. I have 2 Grammy nominations, tons of fans that come and see me live, and my music is more popular than ever. But the business has changed and everyone I know has suffered dramatically with the changes in the way we all get paid� or don�t get paid. I go in front of our government every year and lobby for our rights as creators of music. We need to be able to make a living at what we do to keep the creativity flowing and keep great people creating great music.
What are the lines that connect the legacy of Jazz with the Blues and continue to Rock n� Roll and Soul music?
In my opinion, Blues started it all. It all comes back to the Blues. Ask the Rolling Stones who they wanted to sound like� they�ll tell you Muddy Waters and every other Chicago Blues man. Jazz was born out of the Blues as well. They just widened the harmonic structure and put a different swing on it. But the basis for everything that became jazz is Blues. I have immense respect for the Blues... I just produced my first record and it is a Blues record. I couldn�t be prouder of it. Check out The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You. It�s all vibe. It�s Junior Wells and Muddy Waters meets today. We recorded it in Shreveport, Louisiana!
What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from your gigs and studio sessions?
It�s the best thing in the world to play your own music with your own band and get to be yourself all the time. I�m soaking it all in with my new band The Boneshakers. We did a version of George Gershwin�s �Summertime� that really pushes the boundaries of what�s acceptable, I think. We were a little scared to play it the first night in Seattle, Washington because that�s where Jimi Hendrix is from. And our version is very Hendrix � esque. We got a standing ovation after the song, and we all stood on stage and just laughed. We had such a great time playing it, and it was such a surprise and relief that everyone in the audience loved it as much as we did. We�ve gotten a standing ovation every night after that song, and we still look at each other and laugh because we feel like we�ve gotten away with something! in my website you'll find a free download of Summertime.
What is the impact of music to the racial and socio-cultural implications? What is the status of women in music?
You�re asking some deep questions here! I love it. I never went into music thinking that I�d be treated any differently as a woman than as a man. I�ve landed gigs because I�m a woman, and I�ve been dismissed from gigs because I�m a woman. We�re not on equal footing yet, but I feel as though the glass ceiling as a woman musician is shattering around me. There are a bunch of great women out there that are helping me break down barriers.
There will be a time when it doesn�t matter if you�re black, white, woman, man, transgender, gay or straight�you�ll be respected if you can play/perform/write. That time is near, and I�m constantly cheering on the new generation of women musicians telling them� represent us well... be a strong force� be excellent at what you do� and go take over the world! You can truly change the world.
Let�s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?
I�d love to go back to the Stax days in Memphis and see Booker T and the MGs back up all those amazing artists and create this sound that we all love. I�ve written a few songs with Booker in the last few years� one is on my Wild Heart CD �Addicted to You�, and one is on my new LIVE CD �Make it Happen�. I think he�s a phenomenal musician� he�s what I aspire to be� someone who breaks all barriers of genre. Is he soul, rock, jazz, r&b, blues? He�s all of those things. And I love him for it. I�d love to see him work it all out as a young man and see how he created his sound and his approach and led his band to change the world.
If you've seen any of Mindi's live shows, you know the energy she exudes on stage and you'll want a copy of this CD to capture that magic. You can order it here.
And here's just one of many fantastic reviews of this album from Backstage360...
After Wild Heart, Abair wanted to translate its edgier rock/soul sound to the stage. She called longtime friend Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was (Not Was), Willie Nelson) to join her live band, bringing his Detroit blues/rock edge. In June, Randy�s band, The Boneshakers, was playing The Newport Beach Jazz Festival on the same bill as Mindi�s band, and she hopped on stage to �sit in� with The Boneshakers. �There was so much electricity on stage. The blues and rock just pulsed through me. Everyone played with complete abandon,� Abair said. �It felt like home. And most of my band was also playing with Randy�s band. It was really only about hiring longtime Boneshakers vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson (Bonnie Raitt, Was (Not Was), Lyle Lovett).� Tracked at Jazz Alley over Valentine�s Day weekend, Live in Seattle captures the intent of a rock band, the grit of a blues band and enough energy to light a stadium. Fourteen sizzling tracks include eleven originals and two dramatic covers, which feature the exceptional combined skills of Mindi Abair (alto saxophone, vocals, producer), Randy Jacobs (guitar, vocals), Sweet Pea Atkinson (vocals), Rodney Lee (keyboards), Derek Frank (bass, vocals), and Third Richardson (drums, vocals).
Mindi opens with �Wild Heart� the title song from her 2015 Grammy-nominated recording of the same name. Wow, what a different feeling this band brings to the live version of this song. This song is pumped up with more energy and revelry as the audience fuels their performance with their own pyrotechnics. On the next song, �Haute Sauce,� Mindi pours her heart out on this electrifying song. Her alto saxophonics are righteously haute! When Rodney Lee takes his keyboard solo on this song, he incites the kind of emotions that compel you to make it to their next live concert! �I Can�t Lose� is about everything going Mindi�s way and on this album it certainly does. If her fans didn�t know that Mindi can bring on the vocals, she certainly lets them know it as she sings this song with her own brand of swagger before breaking into a wild saxophone solo.
�Ball and Chain� from The Boneshakers� album titled Shake the Planet is a funky, blues anthem that never gets old. Here, The Boneshakers make it shake, rattle and roll for a new audience at the Jazz Alley. Sweet Pea Atkinson is all over this song with his bluesy vocals and the audience loves it.
Floor trembling riffs explode on �Make It Happen,� the rocking tune penned by Mindi Abair with Booker T. Jones. George Gershwin�s �Summertime,� get a 21st century makeover when Mindi�s powerful alto sax and Randy Jacob�s fiery Jimi Hendrix-influenced guitar wizardry take this song to another level. Together The Boneshakers make this song a four-on-the-floor monster with new tempi, rhythm and beats. Abair and Jacobs also turn in stellar performances on �Bloom,� �I�ll Be Your Home,� and �Cold Sweat,� the latter being previously released on The Boneshaker�s album titled Book of Spells. They bring the house down! Overall, Live In Seattle is sure to become a break out hit for Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers and is certainly worthy of your undivided attention. Check it out.
"Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers Live in Seattle" was recorded over Valentine's Weekend at Jazz Alley. The song list includes:
1. Here She Comes
2. Wild Heart
3. Haute Sauce
4. I Can't Lose
5. Bring Him On
6. Ball And Chain
7. Be Beautiful
9. Make It Happen
11. I'll Be Your Home
14. Cold Sweat
You can pre-order today and grab some great exclusive items at Pledge Music and you'll have the CD in your hands on September 25 - the day the album drops.
But it's the first single from Rev. Shawn Amos's album (that Mindi produced) which drops today.
Mindi tells us...
I produced my first album for another artist this year...The Reverend Shawn Amos. The first single drops TODAY and it's an old blues classic "Bright Lights Big City" - a duet with me and Shawn singing and playing - check it out!
You can download it for free today at threvamos.cashmusic.org.
You know a dream is like a river,
Ever changing as it flows.
And a dreamer's just a vessel,
That must follow where it goes.
�"The River," vocals by Garth Brooks, lyrics by Victoria Lynn Shaw
You know what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night with a vivid dream? And you know that if you don't have a pencil and pad by the bed, it will be completely gone by the next morning. Sometimes it's important to wake up and stop dreaming. When a really great dream shows up, grab it.
�Larry Page, cofounder of Google, Inc.
Dream on, Dream until your dream comes true.
�"Dream On," vocals by Aerosmith, lyrics by Steven Tyler
Sometimes a dream is planned for, worked towards, obsessed over and sacrificed for. Other times, a dream shows up as unexpectedly and as easily in the waking hours as it does when we are asleep. For saxophonist Mindi Abair Mindi Abair, her talent and determination have enabled her to be blessed with both in her multi-decade career. The unexpected kind of dream has taken form in a multitude of ways, including a gig on American Idol , which led to a summer tour with Aerosmith. Another annual appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival led the twice Grammy-nominated musician to a tour with drummer Max Weinberg and keyboardist/vocalist Bill Champlin and their big band, which in turn led to a gig with one of her idols, Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen. And most recently, again at the Newport Jazz Festival, another gig led her to reconnecting musically with friend and guitarist Randy Jacobs, which led to forming her newest endeavor, Mindi Abair and the The Boneshakers. The band is comprised of Abair, Jacobs, vocalist Sweetpea Atkinson, bassist Derek Frank, keyboardist Rodney Lee, and drummer Third Richardson.
One of the many positive results of the collaboration is the creation of her first live album, which was recorded in six live shows over four consecutive days at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle in February 2015 and is currently in production.
So why has she waited until now to record the first live album? "Why not?" she chuckles. "You know what? I've always wanted to make a live record. I've toyed with the idea. We made a live DVD four or five years ago (Live In Hi-fi Stereo , Medialink, 2011) but I've never made a live CD. I think it is something that every band should do at some point. I look at my band as a total kickass live band. That's what we do. We go out and play live and have fun and create a party. And why not capture that?"
Although many of Abair's fans hadn't yet heard about the Boneshakers, for Abair they were the perfect choice. Says Abair, "I've played with Randy Jacobs, who's headed up the Boneshakers, for over twenty years on and off. He's just incredible and I'm a huge fan of his and the Boneshakers. So to try and meld the two together and come up with something together that's common, that's ours, is really, really fun. And I want the world to hear it!"
The musician continues, "I just think this new incarnation of Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers is really special. It's fun, it's organic, it's honest. I'm loving playing with the Boneshakers and that energy. It's good energy. I'm definitely going to ride that and have a good time with it."
Her latest album, Wild Heart (Heads Up, 2014) has a bit more of a rock and soul edge to it than her previous recordings. According to Abair, " Wild Heart set me on a path of a little more rock and roll, a little more soul. A little more bluesy, organic nature to my records and I loved that turn. It really brought me back to what I grew up with."
Abair first met Jacobs at the beginning of her professional career. "When I moved to L.A., I was just looking for places to play and looking around, trying to get booked anywhere. I played on the streets. I played anywhere they would let me. But finally someone told me about a gig that happened at a rock club called The Mint. Every Thursday night there was a band headed up by Oliver Leiber." Leiber is the son of Jerry Leiber who, as part of Leiber and Stoller, penned many great hits for Elvis Presley Elvis Presley.
Abair continues, "Oliver was one of the guitar players and Randy was the other. I joined this band and we played every Thursday night to such a packed house. You couldn't even move in there! It was people dancing, drinking, smoking, sweating, screaming. It was just loud rock and roll, and soul, R&B. It was just over the top. Randy Jacobs would be doing back flips off the stage. I was running around, playing, just having a blast. By the time I would get home, I would be dripping wet with sweat from running around. It was an event!"
Jacobs played guitar on Abair's 2010 release In Hi-fi Stereo (Heads Up, 2010). He has also played with her band on and off throughout the years. Additionally, the two share a strong friendship and mutual respect and admiration for one another.
Jacobs began the Boneshakers in 1996, with vocalist Atkinson. The name was given to them, albeit unintentionally, by vocal powerhouse Bonnie Raitt. The Boneshakers have worked with Lyle Lovett Lyle Lovett, Don Was and Raitt, among others.
According to Abair, "I've always been a fan of his band, the Boneshakers. It's been kind of a little family. I've have known these guys for so long and we've each had our own little worlds that we fit very neatly into. We come cheer each other on. And we play with each other, moonlight with each other. But I love the fact that after so many years of being friends and being fans of each other that we can come together and really make music together again on a regular basis. Fuse those two worlds in a really fun way! It really, really works so well and it's just fun."
Jacobs recalls, "I met Mindi about 1991, when I was working with guitarist Oliver Leiber at The Mint. I always say I knew Mindi before the hair and make-up!"
The guitarist continues, "She could play. You could tell. Oliver told me, this chick can really play, you have to check it out. And when she came around, I said, 'You sure she's a girl?' She was just so shy. Her jacket was all buttoned up. She was just trying to fit in with the guys."
Besides her fashion sense, what are the greatest changes that Jacobs has seen in Abair over the years? "I think she is more freer," says Jacobs. "She is getting to be more of that girl that I first met. More free. More letting it go. I think especially with the Boneshaker aspect, I saw it at Jazz Alley. She was playing her ass off!"
Jacobs continues, 'Let's Straighten It Out' is a song that, with the Boneshakers, I usually take the solo. [At Jazz Alley] I let her have it, especially after hearing her do it in rehearsal. It was perfect for her because it opens up a whole new door of her playing, that sort of old school R & B saxophone. And she's got that.
"Vocally, she's starting to push it out there more because she's not trying to be like, well, I don't want to scare the wine drinkers at the table if I push the rock element too hard. She is just letting it fly, you know?
"We did 'Summertime' and she wanted to see something happen. She said how can we take it and make it more dangerous? And that's where she is changing�she wants to be something more dangerous."
Abair coming more into her own is allowing those around her to be more free with their own playing. According to Jacobs, "Our drummer, Third, [Frank 'Third' Richardson] was talking about how something is different. Yeah, the something different is that I am playing with Mindi and the Boneshakers, which is more me . So now I not trying to be this 'jazz' guy, I am just letting it fly. I am just letting me be me. We are helping each other out."
Jacobs muses, "I think we all get affected by it. You put a record out and it's in a genre. How much do you have to be in that genre before you offend somebody or scare them off? But I always told her, you have to stick to your guns. Your real fans will accept you. I always wanted her to do what she thought was best, not what the market calls for. I believe in her. I've always believed in Mindi."
"[The collaboration] was a fluke," Jacobs continues. "Last year, we played at the Hyatt Newport and played on what they call the second stage. Mindi played the night before, sort of a record release for Wild Heart and I sat in on a couple of songs. So the next day the promoter asked if we could have a guest, and I said Mindi's here, Mindi can be my guest. There was not even a lot of rehearsing, it was just 'Mindi's going to come.' The band knows a lot of Mindi's songs, so we will make it like a Boneshaker/Mindi show."
Once they rehearsed together, the potential that the group could reach together became clear to both them and the audience. Jacobs recalls, "We saw what could really go. After the Hyatt, her manager, Bud Harner, called me and asked if I would collaborate with her." Jacobs' response? "Of course. But Sweet Pea had to be a part of it because he is the Boneshakers. Sweet Pea loved it. Sweet Pea loves Mindi, he just thinks she's amazing. And he's a tough sell. If he doesn't think you're real, he doesn't buy it."
What about the Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers collaboration most appealed to Jacobs? "It's just the soulful aspect. She has a soul and rock thing. I grew up playing in horn bands. And I was used to that. I've always been attracted to horn players. But she was different in the sense that her aspect was definitely from the R&B/rock perspective, as opposed to the jazz perspective. And that was what attracted me to her right off."
How have the fans responded to this new marriage? According to Abair, "The audiences have been eating it up, just screaming and yelling. It's becoming a kind of raucous, blues, rock show." Jacobs simply says, "You've got the legend of Sweet Pea and you've got Mindi. How can you go wrong?"
And why Jazz Alley? "We've played Jazz Alley for ten years over Valentine's weekend," states Abair. "It's home. It's home base. The audiences are just the best, just the best. It's so many friends and people that I've come to know. And such a forgiving, family audience at this point that I really wanted it to be that. I didn't want it to be somewhere new; I didn't want it to be somewhere strange. I just wanted it to be somewhere that was homey, that was comfortable, that we could just be in and feel at home and record the shows and feel good and get some great stuff down. So that's why I chose Jazz Alley."
She continues, "Reaching the potential for what it could be in those four nights, it was different than being in a rehearsal room. To actually see it, after you've rehearsed for four days. To actually step on stage and watch it happen. It was pretty amazing for us that day. I think for all of us. We all knew it was going to be good. But how good? And how are people going to accept it? It isn't really jazz. It's somewhat jazz. I don't know. It's good music. It doesn't matter."
Besides her talent, what is one of the things that Jacobs admires most about Abair? "Her bravery," he says without hesitation. "To make a record like Wild Heart , most people have a hit record with a certain thing; they continue to make the same record the same way all the time. They don't want to take a chance. Mindi's brave that way. She took a total chance. By having Joe Perry come play 'Kickass.' To have Gregg Allman Gregg Allman on a song, instead of the sound that people sort of lock her into. I admire that in her, that bravery part. That was the thing that I admired in Don Was, when I was with Was/Not Was�unafraid to try things, unafraid to push a genre. Unafraid. That's what I admire most about Mindi."
When asked for a story to describe who Mindi is or what she means to him, Jacobs had to struggle a bit to pinpoint the exact right one. Instead, he started describing how much he admires her. "I'm really proud of her," he says. "The Grammy thing. To take a record like that ( Wild Heart ) that was totally different from any record she had done."
Abair thanked Jacobs in the liner notes on her Wild Heart CD, even though he didn't play on the record, which some of his peers questioned him about. The guitarist responds, "I believed in her. I supported her. I didn't ask her a bunch of questions. Guys that were top players, they asked her a bunch of questions. 'Well how come I'm not playing on it?' I totally got it. She was looking outside her normal camp to see what she could discover.
"What I said was, 'You have to go for what you know.' And it paid off for her. So when people see, ' Special thanks to Randy Jacobs ' for a record I didn't play on, that's what it's about. It's about our friendship and me supporting her, believing in her. I totally get it." So there's your Mindi story. "There's my Mindi story, without even trying."
It would seem that the Newport Jazz Festival is a fortuitous spot for Abair, because in addition to being the birthplace of Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers, she also happened upon a collaboration with Weinberg, longtime drummer for Bruce Springteen's E Street band, as well as a bandleader in his own right.
According to Weinberg, "In 2011, I was introduced to Mindi at the Newport Jazz Festival with Bill Champlin. He and I put together a six piece group and played the festival. The promoter suggested to my manager that Mindi come down and sit in. I had heard of her, but hadn't met her. Being Mindi she just blew everybody away. It was fantastic. Right after that I said to Bill, we've got to get Mindi in the band. She came on the road with that group on the fall of 2011. And it was a good decision because she just tore it up every night."
Abair recalls, "I met Max Weinberg about six days after Clarence Clemons died. The promoter for Max's gig called me and asked if I'd play a little Clarence tribute with Max for his gig a few days after Clarence's passing. I was blown away and jumped at the opportunity. I'm such a fan. I ended up really bonding with Max and joining him on the road for a few weeks. We became friends and kept finding opportunities to play together. He called me one night and said that he was playing a benefit at the Beacon Theater called Stand Up For Heroes, and Bruce Springsteen was coming in to headline it. Max was the leader of the house band. He asked if I'd come in and play 'Spirit in the Night' with Bruce and play Clarence's part. I was just over the moon to get the chance to play the part of one of my heroes, Clarence. And meeting and playing with Bruce was really a dream come true. He's one of my favorite artists. I was on Cloud 9 for a long time after that!"
Seems Weinberg was taken with her, as well. "You just have to meet Mindi and friendships develop," says the drummer. "I've referred to her as three-hundred sixty degrees of happy."
He continues, "Going on the road with people, some people say it builds character. Some people say it reveals character. It certainly does reveal character and Mindi was just great to be around. She comes out of the elevator in the morning looking like diamonds, which is an indication of her professionalism, her personal discipline."
How would Weinberg best describe the saxophonist? "Fun, fantastic performer, always willing to stretch herself. She is always willing to say, 'Yeah, I can do that.' Or 'I'll do that.' Or 'I'll figure out a way to do that.' That's the kind of people you want around you, in life generally, but specifically in bands. Who can do that? She's got the first hand up in the air.
"A lot of times�and I don't have any judgement of this�but the first thing is, 'Talk to my manger and what does it pay?' And that's all very important, but that just wasn't her style. She just wanted to play. It was all about the music. We could work out the other details, which obviously we did. But I could tell immediately that the focus was on the music and performing and contributing."
What was it like on the road with the beautiful blonde saxophonist? Recalls Weinberg, "We were playing small clubs, theaters, where you could see the whole audience. When Mindi came out obviously there was kind of a reaction from the gentlemen in the crowd. But then when she played the sax, forget it. Everyone in the building picked up on that. As I said, it's like three-hundred sixty degrees with Mindi Abair."
How does Abair onstage compare to Abair offstage? "Very similar," states Weinberg. "She's got an incredible personality. Generally, in my experience, you can go one of two ways. You can be completely different off stage and then come alive when you are onstage. But Mindi's up all the time and the stage is just another facet of her engaging personality. And approach to life. And she hasn't had it easy."
In fact, according to Abair in The Soul of Jazz: Stories and Inspiration from Those Who Followed the Song in Their Souls (Grayson James Press, 2011).
When I came to L.A., I immediately got a job as a waitress because no one would hire me as a musician. I would walk into jam sessions in Los Angeles and ask if I could play. They wouldn't even think I was a musician. I looked like a cheerleader at that point. I was twenty-one years old, and I'm sure I didn't look the part of what I was trying to be. It was interesting. I learned you kind of have to make your own.
And because no one would hire me, I made my own. I did everything from playing on the street to pay the rent, to booking myself as a solo saxophonist and playing in lobbies of hotels or parties. I even played with a trio, or a duo, and hired guys I wanted to play with. Whatever they wanted, that's what I had.
I played all the little dirty rocker clubs in Hollywood, and any jazz club or restaurant that would let us in. Everyone was playing for free. We moved up slowly to getting paid maybe thirty dollars to fifty dollars a night. We definitely paid our dues. We even played on the route of the L.A. Marathon (for free), just to play. We didn't say no to any moneymaking opportunity or any opportunity to get in front of people and play. You never know.
But then, as luck/talent/being-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time would have it, Abair got her big break. According to the musician, "At one point, I was playing on the street alone in Santa Monica, and Bobby Lyle Bobby Lyle walked past me. He is a veteran jazz musician. He is incredible, and I recognized him immediately, since I was already a fan. He walked by and stood and watched me play for a while.
"I am thinking to myself, 'I've got a college education, and I am out here on the street playing, and I've got Bobby Lyle watching me. This is a little embarrassing.'
"He stayed to the end of the song, and then he walked up and said, 'You are really good. I should hire you for something.'
"And I thought, 'Well, maybe this isn't embarrassing. Maybe this is pretty cool.' He did hire me, and I played on one of his albums, Power of Touch [Atlantic/WEA, 1997], and toured with him on and off for years. We'll still do stuff together every once in a while. He was a huge part of my coming up the ranks. It all came from his walking up Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and seeing me out there with my case out."
Weinberg adds, "Mindi played every kind of gig she could think of and putting no boundaries on what she would do. A lot of people do that, [set boundaries]. Sometimes it works for them and sometimes it doesn't. They cut themselves off from other musical experiences that would broaden them. And Mindi can do it all. And in tune, which also could sometimes be a little bit unusual. In tune. And I think that is a good description of Mindi. That she is "in tune." And not just on her instrument. She is in tune."
When asked to compare Springsteen and Abair, since Weinberg has played beside them both, how would he compare the two? "I wouldn't necessarily compare them," he responded. "What I get [from both Bruce and Mindi] is that they both take their fun very seriously. And when you dissect that phrase, it's about having fun, but it's not an excuse to be sloppy and party, although it is a party. So she brings that same kind of enthusiasm that I see in Bruce. Completely fearless in front of an audience, which he is, and what I have noticed about her. That's a hard quality to get. If I am speaking about Mindi and Bruce in the same sentence, it's their professionalism, their dedication and that idea that we are going to take our fun very seriously."
What quality of Abair's does Weinberg most admire? "Her work ethic. She works hard and keeps going, in various areas. She just keeps going and that is sort of the key to success in any field. Don't stop. Sometimes individuals in bands or bands as a whole, sometimes they can be their own worst enemy. And Mindi's not. Mindi just keeps going."
The drummer continues, "If you ask her to do a gig with you, she's there for you. When she does her own gig, she is very generous with showing the audience what her band or the people she is playing with can do. She is a great performer on stage. She is beautiful. She sings fantastically. She really does kind of have it all."
Besides playing incredible lead sax, Abair's double threat (although it wouldn't be all that surprising to find out that she has some hidden dance moves as well!) includes soulful vocals, which although she wasn't all that certain about at first, she has incorporated more of in recent years.
Abair says, "I think I was hesitant to add too many vocals to my set early on because I knew people knew me as a saxophonist primarily. I didn't want to shake them up too much. But now I just don't care. You know what? You are going to like this music. It's gonna be cool. Just go along for the ride with me. Buckle up. I swear you are going to have a good time. Because I am! Let's not think too much about this."
Her latest record, Wild Heart , has four vocals on it. "I've been really loving getting those vocals out there. They've been fun songs to sing live. They're up, they're fun. I think they add a lot to the show. They add a lot of depth and the possibility for a journey into the show."
Abair's life seems to be blessed with her ability to snowball one gig into another that-much-more-fun one. Like playing onstage at the Newport Jazz Festival. Or making a supposed one-time appearance on American Idol . One of the judges happened to be vocalist Steven Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith, when Abair made her first appearance in a duet with contestant Paul McDonald in 2011. Tyler was quoted as saying to McDonald after his duet with Abair, "Forget you, who's your saxophonist?"
The gig on American Idol turned into Abair making another appearance on the show's finale. Abair recalls that hectic morning and an unexpected turn of events. "It was the last day of American Idol , the last finale for American Idol . I wasn't hired to play. I was home in bed, checking my email and I get this call at ten in the morning from the producer of American Idol . 'Get down here. As soon as possible, get down here. You're on the show.'
I was like, 'OK. Don't you tape in a couple of hours?'
'Yup, get down here.'
I get up, I have no make-up on. I'm putting stuff together. And I get another call, about five minutes later. 'OK. We need you down here, bring all of your horns. All of them.'
I'm like, 'What am I playing?'
'I don't know. Just bring everything and you need to be here now.'
'I'm trying. Believe me. OK. I'm going, I'm going.'"
Trying her best to get to the set on time, Abair gets yet another phone call. "I pick up the phone and it's Steven Tyler. Unmistakable voice. He's like, 'Mindi. Steven Tyler.'
"And I was like, 'Hey?' I was thinking, oh my gosh, is he calling me to get me down there to do the show?
"He's like, 'We've got to do this. It's time.'
'What are we doing?'
'It's time to play, man. We've got to make this happen.'
I'm like, What are you talking about?
He said, 'Come to my trailer. We've got to do this.'
"I have no idea what was going on. I'm just being slapped in the face by American Idol then I get a call from Steven. I'm like what is going on?"
Finally Abair gets to the Idol set and finds out she will be playing on the last show. Afterwards, she gets whisked into Tyler's trailer and according to Abair, "He's right up in my face and he starts singing. Then he turns on the new Aerosmith record and starts playing it for me. I was like, 'This is great! Wow!' Yet she still had no idea what the iconic vocalist wanted from her.
Tyler told Abair, "I want you to tour with us. But I've got to see if you can really do this. All I've seen is you do American Idol . Play." Tyler had her play along to the record. Abair says, "He's having me play different stuff on the record. He's having me play in and out of him. Then he's like, 'I know you sing. Sing this.' Then he would sing something crazy. And I would sing it back to him.
According to Abair, Tyler told her, "OK you're hired. The guys in the band, they have no idea. You've got three gigs to make it happen and then they are going to take a vote. They'd say no right now, but you're going to play. It's gonna happen. I really want you there. We need this. We need to make this bigger than it is!"
Abair was hired for three shows, unbeknownst to the other members of Aerosmith, having been given no music, set list, charts or direction.
Recalls Abair, "[There was] no 'you play on this song, or this song, or this song.' No 'talk to our music director.' No. None of it. It was like forty years of material just hanging out there. And I was supposed to sing on it, too. So when I arrived at the first gig, it was five minutes before the show and I got called into Joe Perry's dressing room. Joe could not have been nicer. He was like, 'We are really happy to have you here. Thank you for doing this. What can I do to make your life easier or make you happy here? We just want you to be comfortable. Thanks for joining us.'"
Her request was simple: a set list, which she received "about five minutes before the show. There was one song I didn't know that I was listening to on my phone as the intro to the show was starting. Oh, and we didn't rehearse. No rehearsal. Sometimes you just have to hang by the seat of your pants and go with it and hope that it all turns out all right."
And indeed it did because Abair wound up doing the whole tour with them. Abair says with enthusiasm, "It was absolutely fantastic. Those guys are total rock stars. Steven's backstage, running around with no clothes on. And Joe is just cooler than cool. Just kind of appears before the show in a puff of smoke. It is exactly like you think it would be."
How has touring with both Max Weinberg and Aerosmith redefined her own music? "I think the last couple of years of my life has definitely been influential in bringing this style into my new music and letting me expand who I am. And to kind of push the boundaries of what I have been doing. Touring with Aerosmith and Max Weinberg and getting to play with Springsteen, doing American Idol for a couple of years, it really allowed me to, how do you say this? It allowed me the freedom to kind of break outside of myself."
"It's this great gift that we have as artists that we get to write our own music and play our own music and direct our own band and tour. You become this caricature of yourself. That I really do think it helps to walk outside that bubble sometimes and get influenced by other people and get pushed into different directions then you would think of yourself.
"I don't write songs like Aerosmith writes. I don't do that. So to immerse in forty years of Aerosmith and to take on that tradition, you really gotta give a thousand percent every night. Those guys are just sweating and bleeding up there for the audiences. I love that! When I did get off the road with them, I thought how do I bring this energy, this sheer power , this abandon that they play with? How do I bring that back to my career and have it make sense? Because I always felt that I gave a hundred percent to my audiences and my records, but there is a different kind of abandon with rock and roll and popular music."
Abair is looking to bring back the days when saxophone was more rock and roll, back to the days of King Curtis King Curtis or Junior Walker & the All Stars. Even back when Aerosmith first started and some of their first songs had sax solos on them. Says Abair, "It was just this raucous, fun, saxophone that totally fit with rock and roll. But we seem to have lost that. Saxophone has become an instrument that you only are a fan of if you are a jazz fan. I thought twice about that, being on the road with Aerosmith."
She continues, "I'm bringing some rock and roll sax back. Let's do this! Let's not pussyfoot around here. Let's get a little grittier, let's play some guitar licks. I'm like, no, Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, well, I'm bringing some saxy back!" The saxophonist adds, "I think Aerosmith was really influential, along with Max Weinberg, Springsteen and American Idol . I had a dose of it for a couple years. It was pretty serious of the Universe telling me, it's all right to just go for it. To give your heart and soul every time you play. And just let it all out. So that's what I did. I was lucky enough to have friends like Joe Perry and Max and Greg Allman and Trombone Shorty and all of those guys to help me on that path. And make it more fun, too!"
Was she able to envision her life as big and as cool as the one she is now living? "I always loved the rock band. I didn't grow up thinking I wanted to be Charlie Parker Charlie Parker. I didn't even know who Charlie Parker was until I was in college. I grew up watching MTV. I wanted to be Tina Turner. I wanted to be out there dancing and screaming and singing. I wanted to be in the Rolling Stones or Aerosmith or Springsteen. Those were the bands that I really loved to watch. I loved that energy. I loved the visual of it. I told Joe Perry when I joined the band, 'This may sound weird, but I learned how to work a saxophone from watching you work a guitar.' He's like a gunslinger. It's part of him. It rolls around with him. He's kind of like a cowboy with it. I wanted to be that with the saxophone. I didn't want to be Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins, I wanted to be Joe Perry with a saxophone."
Another dream in the back of Abair's mind had been to do something on a professional level with her passion for fashion. She found a way to merge the world of music and the world of fashion with her latest venture, Mindi Abair Jewelry.
The dream unexpectedly came to fruition one night after a show in New York when celebrity jewelry designer Carrie Dawes approached Abair about the two creating a jewelry line together.
Dawes liked what Abair was wearing and her personal style, so she asked Abair if the saxophonist would like to start a fashion jewelry line. Typical Abair, she said absolutely. Yet Abair quickly told Dawes, "I don't really know where to start with that, I know music." Fortunately Dawes did. Abair describes the line, "It's fine jewelry, but it's definitely not your mom's fine jewelry." (Unless your mom is incredibly stylish and cool, of course!) Abair continues, "It's really fun stuff�a little edgy, but still really pretty." (Words that could aptly describe the jewelry line's namesake.)
Never far from her mind, Abair thought about her first love, her music, while designing it. According to Abair, "I drew from my sense of style, yet wanted the line to be practical for me as a saxophonist and performer. I like a little rock n' roll in fashion, and I wanted a line of jewelry that rocked. I needed it to work onstage, though, and be practical with how physical I get performing. So the rings are big, but light. And even the knuckle rings move easily. They're all so comfortable. The bracelets are tight to my arm so they don't hang into the sax keys. And the necklaces work around my sax strap and where it hits me. I even have arm bands coming out. I've been testing them on the road!"
Which piece is her favorite, so far? "Probably the hand jewelry piece that I wore to the Grammys. It's stunning to me�all triangles hooked together that climb from a ring all the way to where it attaches up the hand as a bracelet."
Have her fans embraced the idea of Abair as a jewelry designer? "I've actually had a couple of people come to show wearing the jewelry! They had bought it off the website. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, that's my jewelry. Cool!' I almost jumped out of my skin!"
Growing up, Abair never found the competiveness of sports appealing. "I wasn't a sports girl, I was definitely a music girl. It seemed like catching a ball was much harder than playing a musical instrument." Yet she manages to quench her competitive thirst while onstage. For example during the Summer Horns tour, no one was aware of the onstage competition between Abair and saxophonists Dave Koz and Gerald Albright, when they would back up saxophonist Richard Elliot. She recalls, "There was one point where we all held out a note, very soft. We all held it out to see how long we could hold it out and who would win every night. I would win every night and they would all curse me!"
What is her secret? How is she able to physically play that hard and then have a conversation with the audience? Simple. "No one told me it was hard."
As someone who has literally wrote the book on how to be comfortable while performing ( How To Play Madison Square Garden: A Guide To Stage Performance , Not More Saxophone Music, Inc., 2011) Abair admits to still having occasional stage fright, most recently playing a gig at the Grand Ole' Opry earlier this year. "I was in Nashville and my friend Pete Fisher, who runs the Grand Ole Opry, (27.10) said, 'I think it would be really cool for you to come down and just play a song.' I was like, 'At the Opry ? Well, OK.'
"It was a daunting thing for me. Playing the Grand Ole' Opry is like playing Madison Square Garden, in my mind. It's huge. The history that's there, all of it. It's really unbelievably huge. Just getting there and seeing it. There was a magic there.
"In the country world, the artists are fans of each other and they're hanging around. They're getting to know you. It's a really, really special world. I felt that specialness and I felt that history. I felt I had to live up to it to stand on that stage and be worthy. I felt really lucky that they let someone like me in. The country world doesn't really smile on a lot of saxophonists. It's not your quintessential country instrument. I sang 'Always on My Mind,' a Willie Nelson song, and that's a pretty daunting task in the halls of the biggest country music venue in the world. I was nervous and I normally don't get nervous. I wrote a book how to not be nervous and give a great stage performance. So it definitely hit me, the gravity of it. And how cool it was. And how much I should be honored to be there�and not screw it up! I was just giddy. I was in hog heaven. It was great."
How did she get past the stage fright? Abair replies, "As I walked out onstage, I just reminded myself to soak it in. Forget being scared. Just stop it. You are going to ruin it for yourself. You've got this beautiful moment in front of you and there's all these people here. And they want to have a good time. Sing your song. Enjoy it. Soak in the great band that is playing with you. Just be in the moment. I kind of chided myself as I was walking onstage. Don't go into your mind and have it spin. Just get into it and be in it. And love it. And soak it in. And that's what I did. I reasoned it through with myself. "
Yet with all the professional accolades and recognition by both other musicians and her fans, Abair remains humbled and inspired and feels blessed to be able to do a job she loves every day. "I never did have a 'Plan B' if music didn't work out. I had friends I know in college that got a teaching degree in music, just thinking they would be a teacher. Or they got a music business degree or they took the bar exam, thinking they would be a music attorney. Something like that and be on the peripheral side. I just always probably had a very na�ve confidence that it was all going to work out somehow. It wasn't easy, but it has all worked out somehow. I just keep chugging ahead and making music. And getting out there and having fun. I literally never take it for granted, because it wasn't easy to get here. It's not an easy business to this day. But it's not about that. It's about getting to do what you love. And getting to do what moves you. And trying to be inspired all the time."
Abair's music seems to be a happy, musical bridge between jazz and all other types of music. And she takes pride in not following the traditional jazz path. "I actually have a lot of people come up to me after shows and say, 'I'm not a jazz fan, but I like you.' Or 'I didn't think I liked jazz, but I like your band, I like your music.' And I take that as a nice compliment. Because we are termed 'jazz' and we are in the jazz community, but there's not really much jazziness, jazzy stuff, going on with my music. It is mostly based in pop and soul and rock and blues. Every once in a while I will throw a jazzy chord in just to keep it all cool. I think we can be the missing link for people sometimes. If they come from a pop or rock world, a more mainstream word, that we can get them into a few different genres. We are their gateway drug into the world of jazz. We won't scare them off."
She also uses her talent and name towards helping others in the music industry, both newcomers and veterans. "I really love the work that I do with NARAS (the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), the company that puts on the Grammy's."
Abair was elected as a Governor on the Board of the Los Angeles Chapter of NARAS in 2009, where she served for three years until 2012. She was then elected Secretary and served for a year. In 2013, Abair was elected as the President of the Los Angeles Chapter to a two-year term. "It's fun to serve and to try and make our community better."
Abair also enjoys her work with The Grammy Foundation, which gives resources to students and to schools, to increase their music programs. She also donates her time to MusiCares, another charity that branches out from the Grammys, and which offers musicians assistance and resources for medical, financial or personal emergencies. According to Abair, "I've had a good time serving as governor and president of the chapter, and in leading some of those efforts and getting involved in advocacy for artist rights and the rights of the creators of music. We've lobbied in Washington, D.C. and here in Los Angeles to try and really change those laws, the copyright laws, the laws that protect us as writers and creators. I really get into that kind of work. I love that. And I think I am good at it. And it does good for all of us as a community of music. I dig that."
While Weinberg observed that Abair seems to have it all, her dream come true life still has its occasional nightmarish aspects, as well. For instance, she had some misfortune when her car was broken into while running errands just a few minutes from home earlier this year. "My alto saxophone, mouthpiece, and oh everything, was stolen. At the very beginning of the year, they were stolen out of my car about five minutes from my house in Hollywood. It was in there for five minutes unattended. Five minutes. My sax was taken. My mouthpiece that I played for ten plus years, that was customized, there's not another like it on the planet and it was taken. My wireless system, Ipad, Iphone, everything. I kind of realized that the saxophone was the last thing I was really hanging onto. And once that was stolen, I realized that 'Wow, I am just full Buddhist now. Complete un-attachment.'"
She continues, "I don't need the 'stuff.' I do need a saxophone and a mouthpiece, and that appeared magically. Yamaha was just great. They gave me a new horn. They shipped it in from New York and they found something close to the model that I have, which is an older model. It's a beautiful new horn."
Though Abair had lost items that were irreplaceable, both personally and professionally, she looked at this as another dream opportunity. "Nothing like getting your mouthpiece stolen to light a fire under you to finish the prototype that you've been working on for two years." Abair had been working on a new, customized Mindi Abair mouthpiece for a couple of years with Theo Wanne, a premier mouthpiece designer and manufacturer in Bellingham, Washington. She continues, "While I was up in Seattle, I met with him again and we finished it. That mouthpiece is going to be a signature Mindi Abair mouthpiece. That will come out, I believe in the fall of this year. That will be my first mouthpiece with my signature on the top of it. That's like my baby. So some good things came out of losing the last things I was attached to. Hopefully you take something bad and try and create something better from it. You take it and try and one up yourself and do better next time. And make something good out of it."
And what's next for the saxophonist / vocalist / jewelry designer / musical philanthropist / mouthpiece designer? "Obviously, the live record will be the next thing to sink my teeth into. But as far as what comes next, boy, I couldn't have seen Aerosmith coming, so there are certain things you just can't plan."
To whet your appetite, here's a short video in which Mindi explains the artistic journey that has taken her to this point.
And each of the band members is introduced and discusses their experiences playing with Mindi.
Highlights of this year's tour include an early opening night (the weekend before Thanksgiving) in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and an appearance at the iconic Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. The troupe will make its way from California through Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida before returning to California. More stops may be announced.
See the complete tour schedule here.
And let us be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas.
To date, the schedule is beginning to shape up as follows:
|Nov. 27|| ||Austin, TX|
|Nov. 28|| ||The Woodlands, TX|
|Dec. 2|| ||Alexandria, VA|
|Dec. 4|| ||Annapolis, MD|
|Dec. 5|| ||New York City, NY|
|Dec. 6|| ||Reading, PA|
|Dec. 12|| ||Ft. Lauderdale, FL|
When an "official" announcement is made by either camp, we'll have it for you here first.
How it all began . . . My mother, an opera singer and a piano teacher, greatly influenced my early years in music. I started playing piano at the age of 4 and wrote my first song at the age of five. I picked up clarinet in the sixth grade at Woodlawn Elementary and stayed with the instrument until the beginning of ninth grade when the band director (Mr. Drum) asked if anyone
One group I greatly admired was �The Midniters�, fronted by Ronnie Hagen on guitar and lead vocals. This was a BIG band. Lots of guitars, saxes, trumpets and trombones. And they did all the requisite choreography too! I remember a bunch of us (musicians) went to see them play at the Woodlawn Recreational Center, around �61 or �62, after the word got out that they had purchased all new equipment. Ooh! Equipment lust! When we walked in and saw the stage our jaws dropped to the floor! Three brand new Fender Bassman amps, all in a line. Plus, both guitar players had brand new Fender Jazzmasters. Bob Bachelor, the bass player, had a brand new Fender Jazz Bass. This was the first time any of us had seen any of that equipment before. Then they did the ultimate � both guitar players and the bass player sat on their amps and played �Blue Feeling� by Chuck Berry. The thought of actually having an amp that was big enough to sit on was mind-boggling. Realize also that the bass player was playing through four ten-inch speakers un-mic�d in a big room. And people STILL said it was too loud. Some things never change. I wonder if Ronnie Hagen ever got his glasses to stay up on his nose.
During my senior year I joined �The Continentals.� We thought we were totally cool because we wore the latest trend, Cardigan sport jackets with no collars bought from Arnold�s Men�s Wear. I bought a lot of show clothes from Arnold. At that time the St. Petersburg-based group consisted of Jim Scott on guitar and lead vocals, Russ Hoyle on bass, Jimmy Powell on drums, me on Tenor Sax, Don Pasco on Baritone Sax and Danny Beeman on trumpet. We played out on the beach at the Madeira Beach Recreational Center, the Suntan Club on St. Pete. Beach, the Joker�s Club and the other usual gigs in Bradenton, Sarasota and Clearwater.
�The Fabulous Rockers� from Tampa played our Northeast High School graduation party in 1962 and they let me sit in. I was wearing Bermuda shorts and probably weighed 110 pounds dripping wet. I was so intimidated by �The Rockers� (best band around at the time) that my knees were shaking.
Later �The Continentals� made two personnel changes: Bill Broderick replaced Don Pascoe and Skip Pittman replaced Jimmy Powell. At that time we thought the coolest band in the world was �The Mar-Keys.�
Then came Florida State. There was no hip music being played at FSU�s music school so we would drive over to the other side of town near the Florida A&M campus and sit in at a club called �The Cosmopolitan.� That was where the REAL musical action was. My jazz cat buddies and I kept our sanity through having a lot of jam sessions. I was also part of band that played fraternity parties. We played current songs like �Hang on Sloopy� and �Hey You, Get Off Of My Cloud.� The music school looked down its nose at jazz or rock players and I felt musically out of place so I split in the spring of 1966.
I came home from college and joined �The Impacs� who, at the time, were a four-piece group consisting of Vic Waters, Bobby Barnes, Tony Brown and Dennis Ballew. They were the hot band in town. My first gig with them was at the �Cock and Bull� which was the first topless club in town. Very interesting watching all that when you�re trying to play.
In 1967, I married my dream girl Linda. In
1969 we were blessed with a beautiful baby
girl named Mindi. We are still happily
In early �68 �The Impacs� played a gig in Miami Beach and, on our night off, went to see �Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders.� We were blown away. Very shortly, a great five-piece band from Virginia called �The Spinners� that had recently moved to St. Pete., also played Miami Beach and saw Wayne�s show. Once back in St. Pete. both bands got together and said, �Hell, we can do THAT!� We rehearsed and the newly formed �Vic Waters Soul Revue� played one trial weekend at Jersey Jim Tower�s Crystal Lounge in Clearwater and the next at the Blue Room in St. Pete. The crowds ate it up! We decided to make it permanent and got booked into the Desert Ranch Motel�s upstairs nightclub. The original lineup consisted of Vic (front man), Dennis Ballew (guitar), Bobby Tate (guitar, organ, lead vocals, choreography, and baton twirling), Don Hunziker (bass), me (sax and organ), Bobby Barnes (drums), Dave Iannaci (drums), Jerry Michael (sax keys and lead vocals), Tony Brown (trumpet) and Tom Saitta (trumpet). Yes, we had two drummers at one time just like J.B. During the first few months both Bobby and Dave decided that the road was not for them. Donnie Vosburgh replaced both of them. Dave Iannaci moved to Vegas and became a stand-up comic. Bobby stayed in St. Pete. and kept �The Impacs� alive.
Vic Waters and the Entertainers signed on with an Atlanta agent, Hugh Rodgers, and started out on the road, recording a few singles for Capital: �Taking Inventory� and �I�m White and I�m Alright�. We recorded them in Memphis at Chips Moman�s legendary American Studios.
After about a year-and-a-half later Vic decided to go out on his own leaving the group without a dynamic front man. After having seen a killer show band named �The Mob� in Dallas where each member switched instruments and fronted, we decided that now was the time to put up or shut up. We all had to stretch into new areas to make the band interesting. We found a very talented and funny new blue-eyed soul singer named Billy Joe Ashe who also did a great Moms Mabley impression. My stretch was doing comedy playing the buffoon in some of our comedy skits. We changed our name to �The Fabulous Entertainers� and blew away every audience in every town in which we performed. We finally wound up being regularly booked at the Sahara Hotels in both Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. Later, a young bass player named Larry Haywood replaced Don Hunziker. Larry not only played great bass but he also sang his butt off. Dennis Ballew left to go out on his own and we decided to keep the band at nine pieces. That was the best of times! We worked all across the country with a lot of our favorite stars. The band was hot however, due to growing and aging families, it became necessary for the families to settle down so that kids had stable homes and could go to school. �The Entertainers� disbanded in March of 1972 after a fun and successful run. Linda and Mindi, my wife and daughter, toured with me throughout the entire time.
In Summer of 1972, I became the first staff member of Young American Showcase, a musical production company that booked six to eight rock bands a year into Junior and Senior High Schools throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. It was a school of entertainment for the players. I was able to take some of my experience and impart it to young, highly motivated musicians. It was during this time that I met and started a lasting friendship with another local Tampa Bay musical stalwart, Robin Sibucao. I stayed with Showcase until 1983 when I moved to North Carolina to manage a 24-track recording studio. North Carolina was not what I had hoped, so I moved my family back to St. Petersburg and went to work for Paragon Music for two years while recording and producing local artists in my home studio. I�ve always enjoyed turning knobs and pushing buttons.
During this time, I played the local casuals circuit with a band named �R.S.V.P.� led by local Booking Agent and drummer, Hoot Gibson. From time to time both Sher Dolan, the current Mrs. Sibucao, and Robin played in this band. We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. Hoot and I remain close friends.
At about the same time I was offered the opportunity to play in a band led by former Grand Funk member, Mark Farner. I toured nationally with him, for two years, playing keys and sax. Ah, it was great to get back in the saddle and rock out again! It was comical coming home from playing large concerts to adoring fans to play parties and weddings where we had to come in through the kitchen.
Next, I joined a new startup company in Clearwater called Armadillo Enterprises. Its offices were upstairs at the Kapok Tree building that housed Thoroughbred Music. My position was North American Product Manager for Nord Lead synthesizers and ddrum Electronic Percussion. This lasted three years and was followed by a two-year stint as Senior Trainer for Bose Professional Products in Framingham, Massachusetts. Interestingly, Robin Sibucao was the head of sales for this very powerful division of Bose.
In 1999 an opportunity presented itself in the form a new startup company called PlayNetwork, Inc, a creative entertainment company that supplies branded music and high performance sound systems for customers like Starbucks Coffee, Chili�s restaurants, Abercrombie and Fitch, Finishline, Krispy Kreme, CHICO�s, etc. The Chief Operations Officer was, you guessed it, Robin Sibucao. Oh, I forgot to say that the company is located in Redmond, Washington (minor detail). Robin needed someone to help develop the music department and I was ready for a change. I now live in Bellevue, Washington along with Bill Gates, Microsoft and Nintendo. Linda and I love it here. It�s the most beautiful place in which we have lived. Robin and Sherry, Craig Carman (another Tampa Bay transplant) and I get together to jam and reminisce about the old times.
Editors Note:Lance subsequently retired and has relocated to Los Angeles with Linda to be closer to Mindi.
Mindi tells us... "I grew up thinking I had a normal run of the mill Dad until I realized other people�s Dads didn�t have hair halfway down their backs, knee high 3� heeled platform boots with stars up the leg, or rock bands recording in their living room and closets when they came home from school. Thank God I didn�t have a normal run of the mill Dad!"
And Linda adds... "Lance is the most loving, caring, honest person I have ever met. His humor is beyond measure, and there is not a day that goes by that he doesn�t tell me how much he loves me and how proud he is of Mindi and all her accomplishments. I think I�ll keep him around another 48 years!"
(l to r) Gussie Miller, Mindi, John Brainard and Kenneth Charles Hunter
The band's name was taken from the punchline of the old dead cat joke (Google it if you don't remember).
Of course, there was also bowls of candy on every picnic table and a few birthday cakes, two of which were decorated with icing images of the sweetheart who loves sugary treats. Shortly before Mindi cut her cakes, also surrounded by her mother as well as high school and college friends, Ellis grabbed a guitar and started a brief jam session. And, when it was time to sing the �Happy Birthday� song, the melodic voices added to the magic of the evening.
Happy Birthday, Mindi!
Linda Abair recalls that her daughter was still in a stroller during that tour and says, �Mindi played with one of the other babies from that band�.
Since those early days, Wyzard and �Mother�s Finest� have toured with The Who, Parliament - Funkadelic, Aerosmith, Earth, Wind and Fire, AC-DC and Santana.
And now the music comes full circle with Wyzard playing in Mindi�s band � and Papa Abair couldn�t be prouder.
Lance adds, �They are still together after all these years (www.mothersfinest.com) and still tour throughout the world. It was heartwarming to see Mindi up on stage with Wyz�.
Wyzard will play several more dates with Mindi and the Boneshakers this summer. So if you�re planning to see her in concert, you might just be �Off to see the Wyzard�.
"Jazz at the Grand with Mindi Abair" will be held at the Grand Long Beach Event Center, 4101 E. Willow St. in Long Beach.
Doors open at 7:00pm and the event runs from 7:30 - 9:00pm. For tickets visit jazzatthegrand.com or call BGCC at (310) 522-0500. Ticket prices range from $65 to $150.
Mindi says, "Join me to raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Carson. It's all about the kids - It's a special unplugged show."
The industry event combines a plethora of networking events and complimentary education sessions with the industry's broadest selection of finished jewelry, gems, and timepieces.
And check out this review from a leading fashion blog...
A couple of weeks ago my fianc�, Jim Clark, introduced me to a stunning new jewelry line, Mindi Abair Jewelry. With an evolving and fashion forward mind-set, I�m always looking to add �out of the ordinary� edgy accessories to my jewelry collection. Pieces that are beautifully crafted and make a statement. Seems like I found the perfect line to accomplish this.
Mindi Abair is one of the most dynamic and accomplished performers in music today. She is a Grammy nominated powerhouse saxophonist/vocalist whose body of solo work includes ten #1 radio hits and over half a million records sold. In addition to her acclaimed solo work, she was the featured saxophonist on the 2011 and 2012 seasons of American Idol, jammed with Paul Shaffer on the Late Show with David Letterman and joined rock legends Aerosmith for their 2012 summer tour. She serves as the President of the Los Angeles Chapter of NARAS, the company that puts on the GRAMMYs.
Once a year, Jim has the honor to take Mindi�s picture while she performs at the Panama City Beach Seabreeze Jazz Festival. We had talked with her about her upcoming jewelry line and I was really excited to learn it finally launched. The line came as a collaboration between former Neiman Marcus buyer and fashion consultant Carrie Dawes and Mindi herself. Mindi�s �Wild Heart� style is featured perfectly on every piece. The collection is unique and delicate � this is not your typical celebrity line. All of the pieces are made with champagne rose cut diamonds and are set on blackened silver to project a luxury, modern feel.
The collection features bracelets, earrings, hand jewelry, necklaces, and rings. All the pieces are made to create a strong fashion statement when wearing them. I�m a big fan of anything that adorns my hand and Mindi�s hand jewelry is simply stunning. The Labradorite Beads Hand Bracelet is the perfect piece to add a romantic touch to your hand. The Silver & Diamonds Bar Ring is also a great option to give your hands a sassy edge.
If you like a more �edgy rock chick� look, take a look at the Silver Diamond Wavy Knuckle ring � guaranteed to make heads turn. I also like the East West Domed Ring and the Large Silver Stardust Pendant. I can see myself wearing those two pieces with every outfit I own�
I love how Mindi was able to create a line that expresses her personality so well. The pieces are elegant, well crafted, and luxurious. It is clear that she put her �Wild Heart� on each of them. If you would like to be part of the �Jewelry that Rocks� movement, please click here to visit Mindi�s jewelry website.
Thousands of jazz enthusiasts are expected to stake out spots and lounge under the sun at the annual Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Jazz Festival this weekend.
The three-day outdoor music celebration will bring family, friends and mainstream jazz artists together so fans may be close to their favorite musicians.
The festival will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday in the intimate 1,000-seat Back Bay Amphitheatre with saxophonist Michael Lington along with special guest and pop vocalist Taylor Dayne.
The festivities will continue Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on the Hyatt's Back Bay golf course and festival grounds where attendees will be presented with two stages of music, a food court and vendors.
Saturday will feature four-time Grammy nominee and multiplatinum-selling saxophonist Boney James, R&B band DW3, jazz band BWB, Patrick Lamb and Jeffrey Osborne, who earned five gold and platinum albums with Top 40 hits including "Love Power," performed with Dionne Warwick.
The festival will wrap up Sunday with performances by Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers, Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, Patti Austin, Patrick Bradley, Con Brio and Jazz Attack, a band that includes Richard Elliot, Euge Groove and Peter White.
Friday and Saturday evenings will feature an after-hours party with DJ Jonathan Phillips of radio station 94.7 The Wave in the Hyatt's Pacific Room, and Sunday will conclude with an acoustic set by Ray Jordan in the hotel bar.
On Sunday afternoon, two-time Grammy nominated saxophonist Abair will take the stage with the Boneshakers, featuring vocalist Sweetpea Atkinson and guitarist and songwriter Randy Jacobs, to perform a mix of Abair's material and classics by the funk and soul band.
"It feels like home," Abair said of her return to perform in Newport Beach. She's lost count on how many times she's played at the festival over the years. "I travel all over the world with my band and it's nice to play for family and friends. It's a different magic. I look out into the audience and I recognize faces back when I first started."
Abair, who threw a launch party for her 2014 "Wild Heart" album on opening night last year at the festival, earned a nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album at this year's Grammy Awards. The record debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart.
During the album's development, Abair joined "Summer Horns," assembled by fellow saxophonist Dave Koz. She and Koz collaborated with Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright to create a record that celebrated the late '60s and early '70s sounds of Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire and Sly & the Family Stone. The four were nominated for a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Abair has toured with Aerosmith, and has joined Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra on the "Late Show with David Letterman."
She appeared as saxophonist in the "American Idol" band and performed alongside Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips.
Her two seasons on "American Idol" led her to joining Aerosmith as their first saxophonist since 1973 for the band's 2012 Global Warming Tour. When tenor saxophonist Clarence Clemons died, Abair toured with Max Weinberg and performed a night at Beacon Theatre with Bruce Springsteen.
"I was onstage with these guys and I was full of this mojo and I had to bring that energy into my career," Abair said, calling from Capitol Records after mixing a record. "It was a chance for me to open up to this new world."
When she isn't writing, recording or touring, she serves as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Abair, whose solo work includes 10 No. 1 radio hits and close to half a million albums sold, said that she has a few favorite moments of past shows at the festival.
There was the time she begged her guitarist to introduce her to Don Was, who produced Bonnie Raitt's "Nick of Time" album. Since their meeting, Was has been instrumental in Abair's career by hiring her for "American Idol" and Aerosmith's summer tour.
And being a self-described "huge" fan of Bill Withers, Abair said she was honored to meet him at the festival one year.
"Getting to know him has been amazing," she said.
The saxophonist said she plans to stay after her performance Sunday to listen to following shows, featuring Grammy Award-winning singer Patti Austin, Con Brio, Jazz Attack and Larry Graham & Graham Central Station.
"It's a gift to play music onstage and we're ready and rocking to go," Abair said.
This was only Jeff's third performance since losing his sight, and both Mindi and David read poems they had each written for Jeff.
(Photos by Ralph Palumbo, ROCKWEST)
All of us at MindiWorld send our warmest wishes for a beautiful day to our superstar.
It's been another amazing year and we can't wait to see what's ahead.
Happy Birthday Mindi!
She sat in with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra (a.k.a. "The World's Most Dangerous Band") on two occasions: April 3 & 4, 2012 and most recently on July 29, 2014 where she played from her Wild Heart album as well as "Miss You" by The Rolling Stones and "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder.
You can view highlights of her 2014 performance here.
�I like to open up and just delve into things,� Abair said in a recent phone interview.
The contemporary jazz saxophonist will bring her band, The Boneshakers, to Thornton Winery as part of the winery�s Champagne Jazz Concert Series on Saturday, May 16.
Part of her willingness happened over the last year, with numerous changes and adjustments after she released the 2014 album �Wild Heart,� which �skewed more organic blues and rock.� It forced her to take a look at her touring band and make changes to pull off the music live.
�I made a few changes to the band and realized that my backing band was a band called The Boneshakers,� she said.
The Boneshakers aren�t strangers to the music scene, featuring Randy Jacobs on guitar, Rodney Lee on keyboards, Derek Frank on bass, Third Richardson on drums and Sweet Pea Atkinson on vocals. There are already plans to release a new live album in the fall featuring Abair and the band.
�It�s really like Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers without Sweet Pea on the recording,� she said. �We added some of their material and combined forces. I�m such a huge fan of their music and it�s an incredible, fun band. I figured, why not record it? If it inspires you that much, put it on tape.�
As with most live albums, it is a retrospective on a very successful career.
There have been No. 1 albums, Grammy nominations, gigs with Aerosmith, shows with Bruce Springsteen, extraordinarily successful tours, and appearances on �American Idol.� Abair�s fans have definitely been waiting for the live album, considering she is a very electric entertainer on stage and has played all over the world. So, they spent four nights in Seattle at the Jazz Alley for the recording.
�I wanted something cohesive,� she said. �I didn�t want to do two songs from this record and two from that. The music from �Wild Heart� is more soul and the Boneshakers are more rock and blues. I just chose things from my catalog.�
Such tracks include �Wild Heart,� �I Can�t Lose� and �Train� from �Wild Heart.� Also featured are �Flirt� and �Lucy� from her first record, �Bloom,� �Beautiful� and �Summertime.�
�I�ve been doing �Summertime� live for a few years and we did a more Hendrix approach,� she said. �There are two new songs. �Gone� is a vocal and we figured we�d try it out and see how it worked and the audience loved it. I wrote �Make it Happen� with Booker T. Jones, but it didn�t make it on the last record. It just rocks so we recorded it live and again it went over great with the audience.�
There�s definitely a comfort level with the band.
�It�s good to have that band and you can try things to feel how it feels with those musicians and hopefully get something that works,� she said. �I like to be a family and work off each other and shape it together and that�s what remains. It keeps going and morphing and it sounds more developed.�
May you all enjoy your day with plenty of smooth and rockin' music.
After playing the "Jazz on the Vine" festival in Elkhart Lake, WI on Friday, Mindi headlines the 5th Annual Red Cat Jazz Festival on Galveston Island, TX Sunday.
And, by the way Galveston, it's "Mindi", not "Mindy".
How cool.. the first single �Haute Sauce� off my new record �Wild Heart� is the number one most added song on the Billboard Smooth Jazz radio chart this week!
Check out this video taken last week by the Smooth Jazz Family at KSBR�s TV broadcast �Breakfast with Gary and Kelley� of my debut of �Haute Sauce� with Randy Jacobs Music Projects on guitar and my co-writer Dave Yaden on piano.
The show originally aired on July 29, 2014.
Mindi and friends, Jeff Golub and David Pack, turn the Seabreeze Jazz Festival on it's side with a raucous performance of The Who's "Pinball Wizard" to close out her Sunday afternoon set.
This special video shows Jeff during his final touring season.
In her role as President of the LA Chapter of NARAS, Mindi has become a strong advocate for the rights of music creators. She says...
"Feels amazing to join 200 other songwriters/artists/music makers on Capitol Hill today to lobby for our rights -WOW!"
The photos below show Mindi in front of the U.S. Capitol, with her friend Ledisi, performing to open the day with Ray Parker Jr., and in a group shot on the Capitol steps.
You can add your voice here and let your representative know you support fair pay for music creators.
Brand new and exclusive to the MindiWorld store comes Mindi on a mug. The mug�s design is based on the MindiWorld.net masthead.
Show off your Mindi spirit with this 11 oz. ceramic coffee mug. You�ll be the hit of the boardroom or the talk of your coffee klatch. But hurry, these are in limited supply, so order today � only $9 (plus shipping and handling). Get yours today from the MindiWorld Store.
In this video series, they share some behind-the-scenes, unplugged views into the original sounds of those songs.
Here you can watch Mindi and Dave introduce the series. And watch all of the weekly videos at Mindi's Tuesday Video Club.
New Jeff Golub project put together by Rick Braun, Steven Miller and myself comes out on Tuesday.
As Jeff's playing days came to a close, we did some digging, along with Jeff, and found some rare gems - different versions of some of his early tunes and a couple of songs never released at all. Lots of Jeff's good friends took part in the album.
This coming Sunday, XM Watercolors, channel 66, will feature the entire album in a show hosted by Rick Braun and Mindi Abair. 2pm eastern.
Photo by Gussie Miller
Q: What is your personal and musical history with Shawn? You�re very much established in contemporary jazz while he�s clearly a bluesman. Where and how do those worlds collide?
We became friends six years ago when we were both Governors on the board of the L.A. Chapter for NARAS. For a long time we were pretty much business friends, seeing each other at meetings, working on putting on events, maybe having a drink afterwards. But eventually we got more involved with each other�s lives and careers, seeing each other�s shows, supporting and encouraging each other and getting to know our different musical worlds a bit better. He invited me to play at one of his Erasing the Stigma charity gala events. About two years ago, as he was starting to establish himself as a blues performer he called me and told me he played sax years ago and that he had an opportunity to play with some friends in Italy for a week. He wanted to play sax with them but hadn�t picked one up in 15 years � and he wanted lessons! He said that if he was going to be a tried and true blues artist, he wanted to get the sax under his fingers. We had a blast with the lesson and he went off to Italy to play with the blues band � and told me later that it worked out great and, while his primary instrument was guitar, that I had helped him rediscover a passion for sax.
He told me that his band here was morphing from blues based Americana into more full on blues and he was going to start gigging that vibe around town. It was great to hear him play blues. It was clear that we both knew and loved this music. My career has mostly been as a contemporary jazz artist, but I�ve moonlighted on rock albums, with Aerosmith, R&B acts and my longtime friend, bluesman Keb� Mo�. Before anyone knew who we were, Keb� and I used to jam at a place called Fais Do Do with a B-3 player. I also played on the Grammy nominated blues album Decisions by Bobby Rush and Blinddog Smokin� and toured a lot with the late jazz guitarist Jeff Golub, whose final recordings were very blues oriented. I recorded on Train Keeps A Rolling, his final project with Brian Auger. At the same time Shawn was feeling a pull towards a grittier sound and exploring a passion that he had yet to go full force with, I was jamming with Max Weinberg, Waddy Wachtel and Aerosmith. We both evolved a quite a lot to bring us to this point where it made sense to work together.
Photo by Carl King
We were both clearly following new passions in our lives involving music that was much grittier and rocking than ever before. Shawn would call me all excited about the down and gritty blues he was playing and recording, and I�d share my excitement over having Joe Perry on my album, things like that. We both turned the corner at the same time and egged each other on and inspired each other. Throughout the next year, I sat in many times with The Reverend Shawn Amos Band � which was exciting because I was such a fan of him and his first album. I know from experience how hard it is to put together a band and play clubs in L.A. and I had so much respect for his take no prisoners approach.
Shawn sent me some new demos to listen to, and we got together over coffee/tea and I told him I loved them. One of the songs we loved doing live together was �Bright Lights Big City� and I told him he should also record that. He asked me if I wanted to play on the new project. I thought he was just meeting me to talk about the approach we could take to that song, and suddenly, he told me he really wanted me to produce the record! He said he didn�t just see me playing on it but producing it. I didn�t see that coming, but as we kept talking, it made so much sense. His feeling was that I had been part of his journey into heavier blues from the start and was part of what inspired the change in him. Plus we had seen each other through these past few years. Plus we each respected the other�s ears for music and our dedication towards making every detail right. Clearly both of us were more multi-faceted musically than the music we were most known for.
Shawn feels it�s important to have a partner in crime that he can bounce his ideas off of. He did the first record on his own and now with a partner in the studio he can take things further. I was there at the start when he started this journey and I�m excited that he asked me instead of some big blues producer to help him. Our working together feels very organic and honest in light of the history we have shared. The whole process is really a lot of fun.
Q: You mentioned that you have an overall vision for the album. How would you describe it?
Shawn�s first album was very organic, featuring a lot of blues covers and very pared down � without much overdubbing, background vocals or horns. The band was raw, down and dirty, gritty and bluesy. Going into the follow-up, the idea is to keep it what it is, keep it gritty and not make it something it�s not, but add some cool elements. I�m a horn player so we�re working on some horn section arrangements here and there, and some backing vocals on different tracks. The idea is to make those sounds more about feeling than the heart of the album, making sure they don�t take over the songs. I really believe it�s Shawn�s vision and I�m here as a facilitator, to help make him the best he can be. For me, this is not about making this a �Mindi� record or putting my stamp on it as artist/producer. I�m coming in as a friend and partner trying to get the most out of Shawn and his musical greatness. It�s going to sound like him and bring out who he really is as an artist. I�m going to play a little sax on some horn section elements and maybe one solo.
We�re recording in a very cool place, Blade Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana, that is run by Brady Blade, who is Brian Blade�s brother, a Grammy winning artist in his own right, and who has worked with everyone from Dave Matthews to the Indigo Girls, Jewel and Bob Dylan. We�re excited that he�s playing drums on the project. We�ve also got Shawn�s regular guitarist Chris Roberts and Brian Blade�s bassist, Chris Thomas. That place is all vibe all the time!
Q: I heard you guys are doing some co-writing.
Shawn�s first album was all covers so writing original blues tunes is a new thing for him, totally borne out of playing live. I love the songs he brought in to start with. He�s a phenomenal songwriter with great insight and humor and knows how to pull at the heartstrings and tell a story. I�ve always encouraged him to keep writing. We�re currently working on one co-write, �Hollywood Blues,� which makes sense because we live in L.A. and had our initial meeting about this project in Hollywood.
Q: If this album is about Shawn telling a story, what do you think that is?
You share so much more of yourself when you play a song you wrote than when you�re playing a cover written by someone else. I love the fact that Shawn is sharing more about his personal life and experience through these new songs. He�s a thoughtful guy, very insightful, and you�re going to see a lot of different aspects of his life here. It�s not a breakup record or a rebound record, not just one thing, but his musings about everything. It�s about growing up in L.A., having to boogie out of here to do other things, like �you can�t keep me here,� and everyday thoughts from family life and real issues. Sure, it�s blues, but it�s not all sad stuff. The blues isn�t always about bemoaning life. A lot of it is celebratory and inspiring. It�s about a life with cool stuff and not so cool stuff. We can all find a bit of ourselves in a blues record. The key to bringing that out is to not overproduce it, just do what is necessary to flesh out the songs by using our talents wisely.
Q: What are some of the challenges in working in a genre you like but have never worked in before? And, on the other side of the coin, what was the most fun and liberating thing about it?
Actually the greatest challenge is also the thing that makes it the most liberating thing. I don�t play or produce blues in my other musical life, so I am not as familiar with the cast of characters who are the best in this genre. I�m usually in a whole other world, but now I�m here and my job is to help pick the best players who will play Shawn�s blues compositions great together and help his vision come to life. Yet in finding guys I believe will be great, I feel uniquely liberated because I�m on uncharted ground. It�s fun and inspiring to reach outside yourself and look beyond what you know and engage in other people�s styles and personalities. Surrounding myself with new people has helped me think and hear things differently. At the same time, it�s a little scary knowing I�m going into the studio with guys I�ve never worked with. My sense, however, is that, it�s going to be magic and I�ll look back on this project with Shawn as one that helped me grow musically and led to a great new chapter in my personal and musical life.
You can join Mindi and become a part of this project from beginning to end by pledging here...
Check out their new logo featuring a very familiar face...
Since March is the windy month, who are the horn players we should be watching this year? We asked Ronald Jackson and Jonathan Widran to pick some of their favorites along with new faces.
"There are so many others � including Grammy-nominated saxtress Mindi Abair. Now adding rock to her pop/C-jazz arsenal, her new �Wild Heart� release demonstrates the extent of her reach and imagination. Watch for her in concert in or near your town."
� Ronald Jackson
Longtime scribe Ronald Jackson is the editor and publisher of The Smooth Jazz Ride (www.thesmoothjazzride.com) and a regular aboard The Smooth Jazz Cruise.
"Even though neither won the Grammy Award for best contemporary instrumental album in a very competitive category, Mindi Abair�s �Wild Heart� and Gerald Albright�s �Slam Dunk� were two of the most infectious and exciting albums of 2014 � and make them the most compelling veteran horn players to follow this year. Mindi�s always had a rockin� element in her show, but she�s blazing new trails as a smooth jazz rocker and her shows at the big festivals this spring and summer are bound to be explosive."
� Jonathan Widran
Jonathan Widran is veteran journalist who specializes in covering the smooth jazz beat for national media outlets, including Jazziz, Smooth Jazz News, All Music Guide, Music Connection and Jazz Monthly.
Londoners know Pizza Express to be one of the preeminent venues for live music in the British Isles (Yanks: think Spaghettini, not Pizza Hut).
With all the aural pleasure the club provides, it's ironic that the site was originally built as the first "Dispensary for Diseases of the Ear", founded in 1816 by a Naval surgeon, John Harrison Curtis. It was the first ear hospital in the UK, if not in Europe, and opened under the patronage of King George IV.
For more information on the show and to order tickets, visit pizzaexpresslive.com.
Your ears will be treated to some sweet sounds.
I�m so happy to be home. I have about 12 people coming that are family here! It�s warm and beautiful, and the city of Punta Gorda has been so incredible to us since we�ve arrived. Bin 8, a hip hangout downtown stayed open late for us and served us an incredible dinner!
And after the concert, John � the prez of the Chamber of Commerce � presented me with flowers and a huge canvas painting of me with the signatures of so many who attended and helped make our concert happen. It is beautiful! Thanks for a great day! I�ll be back next year with Peter White! Be ready for another big party!
This photo was taken at the concert by my cousin, Charlie Courie of Apple Photography.
Mindi tells us...
I'm so proud to say that I'm producing a new record for my friend and incredible blues artist The Reverend Shawn Amos. We've been friends for many years and I think he's an incredible artist, songwriter and performer.
And Reverend Amos adds...
I released my debut EP, The Reverend Shawn Amos Tells It, last April and have been humbled by the gracious response: over 180 blues stations spinning the music, listed in the RMR top 20 contemporary blues album chart, glowing press in blues publications across the globe.
Now it�s time to make a full-length follow up. I�ve written 9 new blues songs (many of which have become favorites at our shows) and two covers from Memphis Minnie and Jimmy Reed. My dear friend (and Grammy-nominee), Mindi Abair, is producing and we�re recording at Blade Studios in Shreveport, LA. We�ll have a a few exciting guests on the album.
I was lucky enough to self-fund my last EP. Now I�m asking for the support of fans and the blues community. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in memory of my mother, singer Shirl-ee May. By pre-ordering the new album you�ll have access to special exclusive items and experiences, as well as behind the scenes content.
I�m committed to keeping this music alive and bringing it forward. I hope you�ll join me on this next leg of my journey.
You can join Mindi and become a part of this project from beginning to end by pledging here...
Flashback to 1980 � During his maiden session for Don and David Was, Randy Jacobs meets Sweetpea Atkinson on a cold night in the Motor City at Sound Suite Studio (the recording home of the fledgling band Was (Not Was).The connection was immediate and a bond was forged between the two artists. Their combined talents would help Was (Not Was) become a successful act during the 80's and into the early 90's cumulating with the worldwide hit �Walk The Dinosaur� co-written by Jacobs.
After their European tour with Dire Straits in 1992 the Was Band went on hiatus and Randy started writing songs for a solo project while earning a living in Los Angeles playing with or recording for the likes of Bonnie Raitt, BB King, Seal, Paula Abdul, Kris Kristofferson, Ofra Haza, Tears For Fears, Warren Hill and others.Sweetpea was also singing for his supper in Los Angeles adding background vocals to artists like Neil Diamond, Bonnie Raitt, Keb Mo, and Bob SegarRandy had been working with various singers looking for the right voice for his new band when Atkinson called to say that he wanted to be apart of Randy�s brand new thing and so the journey began.
It was Bonnie Raitt who inadvertently gave them their name �Boneshakers� while they were working on her �Longing In Our Hearts� CD and in 1996 the two were signed to Pointblank/Virgin Records and produced two CDs for the label. �Book Of Spells� (1997) which included Randy�s rockin swing arrangement of James Brown�s �Cold Sweat� and the powerful �Shake The Planet� (1998).
After leaving the label Sweetpea decided to go on the road with Lyle Lovett. Jacobs pushed on releasing the CD �Pouring Gasoline� (2001) on his own Bad Monkey Recordings label featuring Austin, Texas singer Malford Milligan (Storyville, Double Trouble). Milligan had come to see the Boneshakers a few years before at a show in Austin via Randy�s pal guitarist Stephen Bruton. Malford became an immediate fan. When he heard that the singer�s job was available he called Randy who was excited at the prospect.
The guitarist had actually been asked to join Storyville in 1995 but had to decline because his commitment to the Boneshakers. Milligan turned out to be the perfect replacement for Sweetpea. The pair released one more CD together, the live in concert �Put Some Booty On It, Vol 1? (2002). When Malford left in 2003 to start his own band, fate stepped in to bring Sweetpea back to the Boneshakers. While working together on a session for former band mate producer Don Was, Sweetpea asked if he could rejoin the band and once again the originals were back. They released �Put Some Booty On It , Vol 2?(2006) featuring their first live performance in San Francisco from 1997.
Mindi was joined onstage by The Boneshakers featuring Sweetpea Atkinson for the first time at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival in June 2014. The sparks from Randy Jacobs� fiery guitar, Sweetpea Atkinson�s bluesy R&B vocals and Mindi�s gritty and rockin� sax created a special blending of musical styles that can now be seen and heard all over the country.
These shots, from Kirk Stauffer Photography were taken at Jazz Alley on February 10, 2011.
Enjoy these samples and visit here for the full gallery.
And while she may not have taken home the gramophone (this year) she will now always be known as "Multi Grammy Nominated Mindi Abair"
Hosted by the late, great Wayman Tisdale and featuring another recently lost legend Jeff Golub, the All-Star party included Mindi, Rick Braun, Tom Braxton, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot, Euge Groove, Marcus Miller, Najee, Brian Simpson, and Peter White, with band members Andre Berry, Ronnie Gutierrez, Randy Jacobs, Dave Hooper, Arlington Jones.
Mindi solos at 7:44.
But Denny Manucal told MindiWorld that two of the only objects surviving damage were his daughter Eden's alto saxophone and a signed poster of Mindi.
They have attended numerous festivals together and have heard Mindi play often in the Seattle area, including an annual pilgramage to Jazz Alley during her February residence. Denny says, "During Eden's younger years, we used to hum the chorus for Lucy's and Flirt".
She enlisted in the Navy on January 12, 2015 (just three days after the fire). She's currently in Basic Training in Great Lakes, IL until March, then to Monterey, CA for training as a Cryptographic Tecnician.
Denny tells us he picked up the surviving poster after Mindi's CD release concert at a Borders Books in San Diego in the spring of 2006. He adds, "That summer, Eden and I saw Mindi at a jazz fest in Portland, and that's where she got Mindi to sign."
While the family vows to rebuild and replace their losses, Denny offers these words of encouragement to Mindi:
"Keep doing what you are doing. You touch lives."
Named one of Billboard magazine's "7 must-see events at NAMM," the sold-out She Rocks Awards were held by parent organization the Women's International Music Network (the WiMN), and were co-hosted by WiMN Founder Laura B. Whitmore and guitarist, solo artist and 2013 She Rocks Awards winner Orianthi.
Honorees included Music Inc. editor, Katie Kailus; Vice President of Brand Marketing at Martin Guitar, Amani Duncan; multi-platinum artist, Colbie Caillat; Grammy Award nominated sax player, Mindi Abair; legendary band The Bangles; Vice President for Online Learning and Continuing Education/CEO for Berklee College of Music�s award-winning online continuing education program, Berklee Online, Debbie Cavalier; Vice President of iconic Capitol Studios, Paula Salvatore; Avedis Zildjian CEO, Craigie Zildjian; Beacock Music Co-Owner, Gayle Beacock; and owner of Robo Records, Rob Christie, the first-ever male to receive a She Rocks Awards.
�The 2015 She Rocks Awards brought together hundreds of powerful men and women in the music industry who filled the venue with a level of energy and excitement unlike any other She Rocks Awards we�ve held in the past. To know that this many people support our mission of advancing women in the music industry is extremely uplifting and reassuring. We set the bar high this year,� said WiMN Founder Laura B. Whitmore.
The event featured electrifying performances by Orianthi with a surprise cameo by Richie Sambora; Mindi Abair; The Bangles; Colbie Caillat; SHEL; and the house band comprised of Zepparella members Gretchen Menn on guitar, Angeline Saris on bass, Clementine on drums, and guest keyboardist Jenna Paone.
Highlights of the event include a stellar performance of Mindi Abair�s song �Kick Ass� with Orianthi stepping in for the guitar duties. A moving speech by Craigie Zildjian reflected on the company�s 400-year past and her role as the first female CEO in its history. And a grand finale closing performance of The Bangles� �Walk Like an Egyptian,� as current and past award winners joined the rock icons on stage with Cleopatra-like poses.
The She Rocks Awards was sponsored by The Gretsch Company, Guitar Center, Seymour Duncan, The Avedis Zildjian Company, Martin Guitar, Weber Mandolins, Fishman, 108 Rock Star Guitars, Casio, PRS Guitars, Yamaha, Berklee Online, Roland, Kind, LAWIM, International Musician, Making Music Magazine, 95.5 KLOS, OC Weekly, as well as NewBay Media, and their publications Guitar World, Guitar Player, Acoustic Nation, Bass Player, Electronic Musician and Keyboard Magazine.
There are few trades more male-dominated than music-instrument manufacturing, music merchandising and music retail. Those are precisely the trades that gather every year in the shadow of Disneyland for the sprawling showbiz bacchanal known as the NAMM (National Assn. of Music Merchants) Show, taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center through Sunday.
When Beyonce is putting �feminism� in lights and female talent dominate the pop singles chart in record numbers, women are also emerging as a force amid the hairy-knuckled sausage-making at NAMM. Friday night at least 1,000 industry insiders filled the Pacific Ballroom of the Anaheim Hilton Hotel for the third annual She Rocks Awards, sponsored by the Women�s International Music Network. The 10 honorees included artists the Bangles, Colbie Caillat and Mindi Abair, and music-biz professionals Craigie Zildjian and Paula Salvatore.
�I never get to hang with the girls,� said Abair, the Joan Jett of saxophonists, before jamming with guitarist and She Rocks co-host Orianthi. �The girls get to hang for a night.�
Caillat was honored for her video for the song �Try,� which shows several women, including the artist, peeling off layers of makeup and hair processors as Caillat sings lyrics of self-empowerment. �The whole point was for every single one of us to accept and embrace who we are,� Caillat said. �I�m just learning it myself.�
The professionals honored also spoke of the importance of confidence and of mentoring.
�I couldn�t picture myself as CEO, maybe because that CEO picture has always shown males,� said Zildjian, the first female head of Avedis Zildjian in the cymbal-maker�s 400-year history. �We all need role models.�
Also honored were retailer Gayle Beackock, Berklee College�s Debbie Cavalier, marketing executive Amani Duncan, journalist Katie Kailus, and Robo Records President Rob Christie, the first male recipient of a She Rocks trophy. The show was hosted by WIMN founder Laura B. Whitmore and Orianthi. All of the honored artists performed. For the finale, the honorees and the house band took Cleopatra poses for a rollicking rendition of the Bangles' hit �Walk Like an Egyptian.�
A Concert Tribute for the Guitarist Jeff Golub
In a career of some 35 years, Mr. Golub worked comfortably in blues, rock and soul, on his own and as a sideman with the likes of Rod Stewart and Billy Squier. But he belonged to the realm of smooth jazz, and it was from those ranks that his tribute drew. The evening�s roster of artists, which under different circumstances could have passed muster as a festival bill, underscored not only the good will earned by Mr. Golub but also a spirit of camaraderie, breezy yet solicitous, within the current smooth jazz scene.
There was just one video clip of Mr. Golub, playing a signature tune, �Dangerous Curves.� Beyond that, the show was a crash course in his recent collaborative history. The keyboardist Philippe Saisse performed �The Velvet Touch,� an aptly named ballad that he wrote and recorded with Mr. Golub. The saxophonist Richard Elliot, who played �Ain�t No Woman Like the One I Got� on one of Mr. Golub�s albums, revisited his imploring take on that melody, with the guitarist Chuck Loeb.
As for the harder stuff, it included a bracing tune by Mr. Miles, �Coming Home Baby,� with Randy Brecker on trumpet; a rollicking �Let the Good Times Roll,� with Henry Butler on piano and vocals; a corny but energetic cover of the Who�s �Pinball Wizard� by the saxophonist and singer Mindi Abair, who tweaked the lyric to �Guitar Wizard.� And as a full-stop finale, there was �Pick Up the Pieces� by the Average White Band.
But two of the more affecting moments came from a more solitary place. One involved Jonny Rosch rasping the Warren Zevon farewell �Keep Me in Your Heart.� The other had Daniel MacGowan � a neurologist at Mount Sinai Beth Israel who treated and befriended Mr. Golub � belting the Beatles� �The Long and Winding Road� with an unpolished intensity of feeling that quickly got under the skin.
No Grammy nominations for Springsteen himself this year, but there is an E Street horse in the race: Max Weinberg drummed on saxophonist Mindi Abair's Wild Heart, nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. Max and Mindi have played together numerous times, and in 2011 they even backed Springsteen together on "Spirit in the Night" at Stand Up for Heroes [video here].
"Max means every note he plays," says Abair. "Playing Clarence Clemons' parts with him and Bruce made me delve deeper inside myself � just go for broke and let everything out. I wanted that abandon for my record."
Listen to "The Shakedown" here, Mindi and Max's collaboration on Wild Heart.
"I didn't want to be John Coltrane when I was a kid, I wanted to be Clarence Clemons," Abair said in an interview with Life + Times.
She also told the Jazz Times, "If given the chance to bring Charlie Parker back from the dead and play with him or to play with Bruce Springsteen, I'm probably the 1 percent of sax players who would say Bruce. But that's what makes the world go 'round."
The event takes places on 23rd January from 6 pm to 8.30 pm at the Anaheim Hilton, California, during the NAMM 2015 show.
The awards will be co-hosted by WiMN founder Laura B. Whitmore and platinum-selling guitarist and solo artist Orianthi.
� Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum artist Colbie Caillat
� Grammy Award-nominated saxophone player and singer-songwriter Mindi Abair
� Iconic, platinum-selling all-female pop band The Bangles
� Avedis Zildjian CEO Craigie Zildjian
� Beacock Music Co-Owner Gayle Beacock
� Vice President for Online Learning and Continuing Education/ CEO for Berklee�s award-winning online continuing education program, Berklee
� Online, Debbie Cavalier
� Vice President of Brand Marketing for C.F. Martin & Co, Amani Duncan
� Editor of Music Inc. and UpBeat Daily magazines, Katie Kailus
� Vice President of iconic Capitol Studios Paula Salvatore
The She Rocks Awards will be kicked off by Americana band SHEL, and throughout the evening will feature a house band led by guitarist Gretchen Menn, and include Zepparella members Angeline Saris on bass, Clementine on drums, and keyboardist Jenna Paone. Colbie Caillat, Mindi Abair, and The Bangles will also perfrom. A portion of the proceeds of the event will go to benefit the Girls Rock Camp Alliance.
Purchase tickets and find out more about the She Rocks Awards at sherocksawards.com.
The New Year has also been one of change for the now two-time Grammy nominee. In addition to the loss of talented guitarist and good friend Jeff Golub earlier this month, Abair�s Custom Z silver-plated alto saxophone was recently stolen from the backseat of her car following a show in California.
AXS recently caught up with Mindi Abair to ask her about the Grammy nomination and her music as well as get her thoughts on the passing of Jeff Golub.
When you look back at the journey of Wild Heart, what thoughts come to mind?
This record was an important one for me to make. I always look back at my history as a young kid growing up on the road with my dad. From the time I was five until I was in high school, my dad was putting together rock bands. I remember all of the good times I had just sitting in practice rooms listening to all of these crazy, "long-haired" guys playing and doing their thing. Although I made my career as a contemporary jazz artist, I always had this huge circle of friends from my life who were rockers. I would often play in their bands and moonlight with them but never knew how to bring them into my world. This record allowed me to do just that. It was great to have them bring their energy and rock and roll attitude to my career. I started out wanting to make an honest record where I could rock out and have that abandon in my playing and writing. To now see it nominated for a Grammy makes me realize that I did the right thing.
What does being nominated for a Grammy Award mean to you?
As a musician, from the time you're a kid you want to win a Grammy Award. It�s the highest award in the land. So for me to actually be one of five nominated is such an incredible honor. Having myself been a part of the governance of the Grammy�s for so many years, it's also given me incredible insight and respect for the process. To see what great lengths they go through to make sure the whole process is pure and honest really gives me a whole new respect for the award. So win or lose � I�m celebrating!
The music world recently lost an amazing guitarist in Jeff Golub. What was it like working with him?
I remember seeing Jeff onstage at The Monterey Jazz Festival when I was just starting out. Watching him up there with his long hair blowing in the wind and rocking out is when I realized that jazz actually lets you rock. Jeff gave me the permission slip that day that said it was ok for me to be myself instead of having to play the game of trying to be like anyone else.
Jeff played on my very first record. I needed a cool, rocking guitar on a song called �Flirt� [ the album�s second single which went to #1] and remember feeling so cool that he was going to play on it. I knew it was going to be a success because Jeff had rocked it so hard. We became instant friends.
I also sang on Jeff�s albums, including �Underneath It All� a few records back and was part of the horn section for his last record with Brian Auger [�Train Keeps A Rolling�] and tour. He was my absolute favorite guitarist to play and record with. All of us are dealing with the loss of this incredible musician. We�ll be playing a memorial at BB Kings in New York later this month to celebrate his music and life. It will be great for all of us to tell stories and celebrate who Jeff Golub was and what he meant to us. He would have loved that.
You recently had one of your prized saxophones stolen. Can you give me an update on that?
We had just finished a few shows in Beverly Hills and were driving home when we decided to quick stop somewhere to grab a slice of pizza to go. When I got home, I quickly realized that nothing was in the car and my stomach just dropped. The sax was customized with a special neck and a mouthpiece that I�ve played for more than ten years. It�s a huge loss. We�ve been calling pawn shops and music stores to help get the word out. My hope is that if enough people see this and can maybe forward it to their friends, we�ll be fortunate enough to get it back.
What�s the New Year hold for Mindi Abair?
My band is going to be morphing this year. I really wanted to give it a little bit more of an organic, blues feel. Randy Jacobs and I have played together for years and to now have him join me on tour with his band, The Boneshakers is just amazing. We�re going to be hitting a lot of festivals and theaters to get this music out there. We'll be doing a few of his songs and then we�re bringing in the singer of The Boneshakers, Sweet Pea Atkinson. He�s a great blue singer who was one of the original voices of Was (Not Was) and sang for Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett for years. He�s all attitude and gritty and just a blast to work with it. It will be fun to watch the energy of my band morph with these guys. Then I�m going to start writing a new album. I think I�m going to stay in this vibe. I love the organic quality of it. I�m going to write songs about me and my life and give that to the next record. Something that�s personal, honest and fun to play and sing.
Have you ever given thought to writing a book about your life and career?
I�ve considered it. My first foray into book writing was �How To Play Madison Square Garden�. It was a fun book to write about helping to save others from making mistakes as a performer. The thing is, I�ve been so busy lately that I think it might take me going to a foreign land and holding myself up on a beach in order to write and tell my life's story [laughs]. I would love to do that one-day but right now, there are still plenty of new chapters to be written!
Matthew and Mindi go all the way back to Berklee College of Music where they both graduated in 1991. They have collaborated on many projects through the years, including some recent work together on "Wild Heart". His Wikipedia page shows:
Originally from Houston, Texas Hager now lives in Los Angeles. Before moving to Los Angeles, Hager studied at the prestigious Berklee College Of Music. Since then, he has written and produced several number one hit singles as well as several critically acclaimed albums and has worked with many major recording artists. He has achieved unusual success crossing many genres from hard rock to jazz to teen pop.
While working with the Backstreet Boys in the late '90's, he was introduced to Mandy Moore and soon became Moore's musical director. He went on to write and produced her song "When I Talk To You" which is featured on Mandy Moore's multi-platinum album "Mandy Moore" along with her song "Split Chick" that he also produced. In addition, he produced several acoustic versions of her chart topping hits including "Walk Me Home" and "I Wanna Be With You" and arranged all live versions of her biggest hits for her us and international television performances and touring for her albums "So Real", "I Wanna Be With You", "Mandy Moore", and "A Walk To Remember".
After his years with Mandy Moore, Hager became a sought after songwriter in Los Angeles and wrote and produced the #1 hit song "Lucy's", which was the longest running #1 single for any debut artist in history on the Contemporary Jazz R&R chart, as well as the #1 singles "True Blue" and "Bloom". He also wrote and produced the Hot AC hit "Stars" for #1 Billboard artist Mindi Abair as well as her top 5 hits "Come As You Are", "Flirt" and "Smile". He also wrote and produced her song "Every Time" which was featured in the movie "License To Wed" and "I Can Remember" was featured in the popular Spelling Television series "Summerland". He wrote and produced the holiday smash "I Can't Wait For Christmas" with Mindi Abair that has sold nearly a million copies to date. Her chart topping and critically acclaimed albums "It Just Happens That Way", "Come As You Are", "Life Less Ordinary" and "Stars" Hager produced in their entirety.
In a 2006 interview with Baldwin �Smitty� Smith of JazzMonthly.com, Matthew talks about Mindi and Lucy's:
Smitty: Talk about you guys� hangout at Lucy�s.
MH: Oh yeah. Well, Lucy�s El Adobe is a really famous Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles and the owner, whose name is Lucy, is just this wonderful like matriarchal type woman. I just love her to death. And we had been going to Lucy�s for, I don�t know, 10 years, and when we first started going, we didn�t know it was famous, we didn�t pay attention, we didn�t know that everyone else knew about it. We thought it was just this quiet Mexican place that had great margaritas and, you know? It just became our little secret, we thought, and one day we were writing for Mindi�s first album and we decided to name one of the songs on that album �Lucy�s,� so we figured we�d introduce ourselves to the owner and say �Hey,� you know, �we wrote a song, it�s called �Lucy�s,� it�s on an album that�ll be out in six months or whatever it was,� and she was so blown away that she would sit with us and she would talk to us about the history of the restaurant, and she would talk about all the different musicians that have been there over the, you know, 20, 25-year period, and about her husband, who unfortunately has passed away, and the impact he had on those musicians and how he would feed some of these people for free, you know, when they were coming up. And we discussed politics.
Lucy�s is extremely involved in politics in the Latino community, both on a local level and even a national level. I mean, this place is amazing. I mean, Robert Kennedy came into Lucy�s right before he got shot. I mean, there�s�.yeah, there�s just some really, really powerful stories and, you know, we didn�t even know the significance of it, but we would go there and we�d talk about politics and we would talk about life and talk about art, and art and commerce, you know? We would just talk about everything and what was bugging us and what we were happy about. It�s a great little place.
Smitty: It�s a great song and you can feel that there�s some serious history and emotions there with the place. To name a song after the place, there had to be a definite love and a definite feel for something that you enjoy.
MH: Yeah, I think Lucy�s just kind of symbolized a place where we kinda met every week and we kinda grew up together, you know, we sorta became adults at Lucy�s.
In 2013, Matthew and American Idol finalist Allison Iraheta formed the band "Halo Circus". They performed on the Grammy Cruise at Sea - Women Who Rock, along with Mindi.
Matthew and Allison quietly eloped in 2013 and Mindi served as Matthew's Best (Wo)Man.
I've filed a Police Report, called local pawn shops and alerted local music stores.
It's a silver plated custom z with a custom plate attached to the back to attach the mic pack to. It's engraved with my initials MA and that's covered with Velcro for the pack to affix to.
My Oleg 6 brass mouthpiece is in there too.. I've played that for 10+ years. Serial number C82291
Please spread the word and keep an eye out for it. I'm hoping she'll come back to me somehow.
Mindi was joined on stage by long-time friends Matthew Hager and Dave Yaden who both collaborated with her on "Wild Heart". Dave played the killer piano solo on "Haute Sauce". Matthew will be the subject of an upcoming THROWBACK THURSDAY news article.
Dave Koz along with Mom and Dad Abair were also on hand to support Mindi.
See all 125 pictures taken this weekend at PHOTOS/Spaghettini
Guitarist Jeff Golub succumbed on the first day of 2015 to complications from a very rare disease called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP).
Jeff experienced a collapse of the optic nerve in his right eye in 2011, and subsequently became completely blind. He continued to write and perform despite the appearance of additional major symptoms which confounded his doctors.
Less than two months ago, Jeff travelled to NIH (the National Institute of Health) in Bethesda, MD to participate in their Undiagnosed Disease Program where researchers identified his disease as PHP - a progressively degenerative brain disease with no known cure.
Jeff, who released fifteen albums, began performing with Rod Stewart and Billy Squire before forming his own successful band, Avenue Blue.
His last performances were with Mindi and David Pack. The three toured together during the summer of 2012. The above photo shows Mindi and Jeff from the 2010 KSBR Birthday Bash.
A benefit concert for Jeff and his family had been planned for December 21 at B.B. King�s Blues Club in NYC. The concert will now serve as a memorial for Jeff with the proceeds benefiting his family.
Mindi will join an all-star cast including Rick Braun, Randy Brecker, Henry Butler, Christopher Cross, Mark Egan, Richard Elliot, Bill Evans, Steve Ferrone, Dave Koz, Chuck Loeb, Philippe Saisse and Kirk Whalum.
Also scheduled to appear are Tony Beard, Steve Barbuto, Lionel Cordew, Josh Dion, Mitch Forman, Tony Garnier, Conrad Korsch, Jeff Levine, Sammy Merendino, Jason Miles, Gil Parris, Shawn Pelton, John Pondel, Jon Pousette-Dart, John Putnam, Larry Saltzman, Roger Squitero, Jonny Rosch, Kenny White and many more.
For more information on the memorial concert, visit marqueeconcerts.com.