Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers – EastWest Sessions

Two time Grammy nominated, Mindi Abair, and her band, The Boneshakers, stepped onto the Wine Stage at the, 34th annual, Temecula Valley Wine and Balloon Festival, and proceeded to bring a little bit of heaven on Earth! The very celebrated saxophonist and vocalist, has a long standing history in the music industry, in ways of #1 hit singles,  full release CD’s, touring accompanist with  Aerosmith and multitudes of television appearances, the saxophonist on American Idol, and as National Trustee for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.  Truly an almost endless list of accomplishments, many of them by a very tender age.

Mindi’s musical roots run deep.  Her grandmother, Virginia Rice, was an opera singer and a piano and vocal instructor.  Her father, Lance Abair, also played saxophone and keyboards.  Mindi’s own career started at the young age of five, first the piano and then the alto sax by the time she was eight, and then hitting the road with her father’s band, The Entertainers.

Her formative years is an impressive array of early accomplishments that musical dreams are made of.  Drum major in her high school band, winning alto sax first chair in the Florida All-State Jazz Band and riding her first year at the University of North Florida on full scholarship, transferring to Berklee College of Music in Boston, also on scholarship and then graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Woodwind Performance.

Predominately known as a jazz saxophonist, after coming off her tour with Aerosmith, Mindi, went into the studio and released her 8th solo album, Wild Hearts, which credits such rock legends as Joe Perry and Greg Allman. Still riding on the high of Wild Hearts, Mindi, went in search of the “the ones”, the players and entertainers that moved with her, saw her vision and made it come to life.  Enter Randy Jacobs and The Boneshakers, the aptly named Los Angeles based multi genre, multi talented, multi decorated ensemble was missing ingredient that made the magic.  It was such a marriage of perfection they recorded their live album, Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers – Live in Seattle, during their first public performance, which was released in 2015.

Backstage at the Temecula Valley Wine and Balloon Festival, I had the honor of meeting Ms. Abair and her family.  Traveling with her parents, Mindi invited the entire BackStage360 team into her motor home to meet her parents and some of her fabulous team of professionals.  Immediately her graciousness and southern manners were upfront and center as she offered us a place to sit and enjoy, with them,  midway through a snack and drink break. We chatted with Mindi and her family for a few minutes and then excused ourselves so they could finish preparing for her 7:30 performance.

I took my place next to the light board behind the small crowd that had gathered away some distance from the front of the stage with their lawn chairs and glasses of wine and snacks and wondered, why the crowd was so sparse, after all, this WAS Mindi Abair!  I watched as people walked by between the crowd and the stage like herds of cattle as if they were completely oblivious.  I was completely bewildered; and then suddenly, the previously unware was very aware and the crowd grew and widened until there was a sea of passers-by dancing in front of the stage, no doubt, to the frustration of those sitting in the lawn chairs behind.  Seated guests, however, were pretty damn resourceful and moved accordingly for a better view and some abandoned their lawn chairs altogether and joined the standing/dancing crowd.

As the sun started to set, on the west side of the stage, several hot air balloons were slowly coming to life in preparation for their evening’s sojourn, the front of the stage was now a mass of happy festival-goers, and onstage Mindi and the Boneshakers were starting to heat up the night.

The Boneshakers, themselves, are a group of badass musicians that cross the lines between rock, soul, funk, blues Motown…jazz.  You name it and these gentlemen bring it and bring it in a big way!  Founding member and lead guitarist, Randy Jacobs, has deep seated roots in the music industry .  His personal biography is a plethora of musical collaborations and solo projects and tours.  And one point or another, you have, no doubt, heard his music, and quite possibly seen him perform with one of your favorite artists.


Along with Randy Jacobs, you will find, Mr. Sweetpea Atkinson!  What a joy it is to watch Mindi, Randy and Sweetpea perform together.  The spectacular chemistry onstage, between these three, spills over into the atmosphere in such  a fun and genuine manner, it is captivating.   There is truly a party going on and everyone is invited.

Back in the 1980’s, R&B singer, Sweetpea Atkinson and Randy Jacobs, teamed up with up and coming, pop musicians, Was (Not Was).  Our 80’s babies, may remember the 1988 huge hit, “Walk the Dinosaur” that reached #7 on the U.S. charts in 1989 , became part of the soundtrack for the 1994 film, The Flintstones and the infectious video that still receives  attention today.

As Mindi’s set started to wind down, the sun was setting along with it and dozens of hot air balloons started to fill the sky, I had worked my way from the back of the crowd to standing in front of stage, listening to these most talented and engaging artists , watching as those beautiful balloons silently ascended from the ground behind what was now a very respectable crowd and thought, “Yes there really is a heaven on Earth”.

Mindi and The Boneshakers are preparing to release their second album, The EastWest Sessions,  in September of this year, featuring tracks with none other than guitar virtuoso, Joe Bonamassa.  They are also currently performing all over the United States.  Their tour schedule, CD purchases and news on their upcoming album can be found on Mindi’s website at:  http://www.mindiabair.com , also on Randy Jacobs and The Boneshakers site: http://www.randyjacobs.com/boneshakers  and you can follow along with them on social media and find their music on many online music service sites.

By: Siege / BackStage360


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