Abair and Boneshakers feeling the blues

Published on October 5th, 2017

By Jim Dail

Mindi Abair loves to perform, regardless of whether it is on stage or studio, and she’s been doing a lot of  both of late.

“It’s good to be busy with things you love,” she said. “Just got off a cruise and it was great because it was a very diverse musical cruise. The other ones tend to be really focused, but this one was people from a range of musical style.”

Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers will perform Saturday at Thornton Winery as part of the 2017 Champagne Jazz Concert Series.

While people may consider her a jazz artist, there’s a lot more to her music that just one genre.

“I grew up with my dad’s band with pretty much rock and roll and soul and blues, and then I watched him put together eight rock and roll bands and I would sit in the practice rooms,” she said. “I was definitely a kid raised on soul and rock and roll. I didn’t even know the difference between traditional and contemporary jazz until I got to college!”

The new record, “The EastWest Sessions,” is a bluesy collection.

“I’m really coming back to my roots,” she said. “I always loved the energy, and we go through different journeys and for me to be on ‘American Idol’ and get to play with others and get outside my bubble is just great. I got to go out with Aerosmith and soak in the mojo with that.

The key to the challenge is leaving the comfort zone.

“It was all pretty amazing and put me outside of that bubble,” she said. “I really think it allowed me to find a place for the blues and rock and roll and more soul in my own music. It let me figure out how to put that energy in my own sound and it’s just been fun to ride that wave and put 1,000 percent into each song.”

Then again, the effort and the blues have always been there.

“No one who has come to my shows in the last 10 years would be surprised and say ‘Oh she went more bluesy,’” she said. “We just happened to be charting on different charts than the jazz ones.”

For this record, Abair wrote more than 50 songs.

“It’s all in the spirit of growth and becoming what you really can be,” she said. “The record is a blast. I chose Kevin Shirley to produce and he’s produced Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and others. He wants to make a great record and wants to make it honestly. It’s not about mixing magic but about capturing the spirit of the band.”

The album was recorded in five days.

“We recorded together as a band, not doing anything separate,” she said.

One of the standouts on the new album is “Pretty Good for a Girl,” a song featuring classic riffs and rhythms from guitarist Randy Jacobs and Joe Bonamassa.

“I wrote the song and it’s a song about my life and dealing with that old backhanded compliment,” she said. “People will say that was quite an accomplishment and pretty good … for a girl. I had to write the song, and it is just a call to action, a motivator for me.”

In fact, she built a Website, www.prettygoodforagirl.net to feature women who have done something cool and amazing.

“If you are a girl above the age of 18, post a 30-second video of what you did best,” she said. “We want to include them in our video for the song.”

There is a great mix of bluesy styles, from the ballad “Let Me Hear It from You” and “She Don’t Cry No More,” to the rock-tinged “Freedom.”

“When I got with The Boneshakers, we went out on the road, and we just taped a show and that became our live record, but I always felt we needed to go into the studio to do a record,” she said.  “It’s not that easy to herd the cats into one room and do a band record!”

However, the end result is that the album is among the best Abair has been a part of.

“If you have a great band, you can do it,” she said. “If they move together, and we’ve been on the road a few years together then you go into the studio and just get into that jam and that groove.”

And there is plenty to listen to from Abair, both on the sax and vocals, kicking off with “Vinyl.”

“I always like pushing myself,” she said. “I’ve been taking voice lessons. I’m not that person who thinks, ‘Well. I’ve been in the business awhile so hey I’m good.’ No, my attitude is how can I be a better player, a better vocalist and a better songwriter?”

And she is definitely proud of the result.

“I think it’s the best record I have ever made,” she said.

That’s really saying something!

IF YOU GO

When:  7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7

Where: Thornton Winery, Temecula

Admission: General admission $85, Gourmet supper Sold out

Information: Call 951-699-3021 or visit Website, www.thorntonwine.com

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