When I saw a video of Mindi Abair playing a tune with Joe Bonamassa a couple of years ago, I was captivated. Her voice is energetic, her sax playing is excellent, and she is pretty dang easy on the eyes. This blues rock bundle of energy hails from California where, besides playin’ the badass roadhouse blues, she also runs a winery with her husband!
Mindi is an accomplished performer and musician with the pedigree to prove it. A graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, she has been nominated for Grammy Awards for her incendiary sax style, toured with Aerosmith, and earned a reputation as a fiery on stage singer. She joined forces with The Boneshakers in 2014 and they have collaborated on three well received and popular albums in the years since; the latest of which is entitled NO GOOD DEED and one of my favorites of 2019.
NO GOOD DEED was produced by Kevin Shirley (Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Black Country Communion) and his touch brings out the very best in Mindi on No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Seven Day Fool, and Movin’ On. Mindi is a natural blues rocker who likes it LOUD with a pulsing rhythm and that is certainly something that Kevin knows a thing or two about. Mindi teams with band drummer and vocalist Third Richardson for an incredible rendition of a tune done back in the day by Ike & Tina Turner, Baby Get It On. Mindi then cranks it on a rousing version of You Better Run, a hit for Pat Benatar in the 1980’s and originally done by the Young Rascals in the 1960’s. All of the cuts also feature an awesome guitar player by the name of Randy Jacobs.
My first awareness of Mindi came with the release of THE EASTWEST SESSIONS in 2017 and the tune Pretty Good for a Girl featuring Joe Bonamassa on guitar. The tune is also the name of her production company….an in your face reminder of what Mindi and other female musicians often deal with while payin’ their dues. One of my pet peeves is writers/reviewers and industry groups that distinguish between male and female instrument players. An instrument has no sex and identifying Mindi as a “fabulous female sax player” will likely get you a stare down from her that intimates potential violence. For a taste of her prowess on the saxophone, I invite you to listen to Not That Kind of Girl. The tune reflects her boisterous style with an upbeat sound and infectious beat.
Additionally, Mindi & the Boneshakers put out a Christmas album in December of 2018 entitled ALL I GOT FOR CHRISTMAS IS THE BLUES. The title cut, Merry Christmas Baby, and I Can’t Wait for Christmas are cool modern tunes and her sax infused version of the classic The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) is something you just have to hear! The overall recording has become an instant blues Christmas favorite of mine.
Based on her most recent album which is a perfect synergy of rock, blues, and R&B, as well as her body of work during the last decade, Mindi Abair rightly deserves her selection as our 2019 Roadhouse Blues Woman of the Year!
Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.