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Music Go Music

Posted on: September 16th, 2014 by tommyj

Music Go Music “Warm in the Shadows” from Music Go Music on Vimeo.



Posted on: September 16th, 2014 by tommyj


Bobby D Present “Dangerous Divas”

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by tommyj

Jolene Blackshear


Kenia Enriquez

Bobby D Presents “Dangerous Divas”

On Thursday September 4th Bobby D Presents “Dangerous Divas” with two of the most exciting female boxers in the ring today. Jolene Blackshear who fights  Susan Reno of New York.  Undefeatead Kenia Enriquez battles Mayela “La Cobrita” Perez. The six-bout fight card will also feature the best in San Diego and Tijuana talent. Scheduled in a cross-border welterweight six will be Miguel “Zurdo” Sanchez (8-0, 6KO) of San Diego by way of Culiacan, Mexico against Tijuana’s Ivan “Oso” Zavala (6-6-2, 2KO) while Hawaiian super bantamweight amateur standout Haley Passion will make her pro debut against fellow first timer Jillian Lybarger of Phoenix, AZ. Passion is trained in Hawaii by former world champion Jesus “Hawaiian Punch” Salud.

San Diego super bantamweight Mulapi Enjani will make his pro debut against Los Angeles’ Juan Urbina (0-2-1) in a four rounder while in a special attraction, the grandson of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, Leon “Third Generation” Spinks III (7-1-1, 3KO) will face Luis Merced (3-1, 3KO) in a lightweight six.

10548303_631360666976985_4817720758979857402_o“San Diego Fights: Dangerous Divas” is presented by Bobby D. Presents sponsored by Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Mossy Automotive Group and Everlast. The Crowne Plaza Hanalei Hotel is located at 2270 Hotel Circle North in San Diego. Doors open at 6:30pm with the first punch thrown promptly at 7:30pm. For tickets and info, please visit SanDiegoFights.com or call (619) 420-8866.

In July Bobby D Presents gave Southern California an excellent night of boxing with a four fight card and the temperature warm and muggy it was easy to see that the crowd was feeling the heat.  On the day prior to the fight during the weigh-in some of the fighters gave a preview of their mindset while others appeared to upset the mental disposition of their opponents.


Photography by Alvin Miller

The night opened with a lightweight match featuring Riccy “The Hammer” Hood, San Diego (1-0) versus Norberto Pantaleon, Oceanside (0-2); both are highly energetic, hunger fighters. As the boxers touched gloves and stepped towards each other to give one another all they had.    Both men weighing in at 136 pounds went toe-to-toe until the much more skilled Pantaleon with a series of crushing blows sent “The Hammer” free-falling into the ropes.  Half way through the first round Pantaleon is declared the winner by knockout.

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Photography by Alvin Miller

The second match of the night saw the return of “Smokin” Joe Perez, San Diego (4-1-1, 3KO) versus Gabriel Braxton, Atlanta, GA (1-3, 0KO) in a Featherweight match-up. Braxton was the first entrant of the night; coming to the ring pumped-up and ready for a rumble.  “Smokin” Joe approached the ring sharp, focused and determined.  Braxton was showing signs of difficult early in the match when “Smokin” Joe rocked him with a blow felt throughout the room.  Braxton’s team threw in the towel giving another victory to “Smokin” Joe Perez who rides the moment of another night with Bobby D’s boxing.

Match three was probably the most evenly fought match of the night.  Viktor Chernous, Vinitza, Ukraine (15-1, 5KO) versus Ivan “Oso” Zavala, Tijuana, Mexico pitted two fighters with great conditioning going the distance and ending with as split decision for the fight.  Despite the six-pound difference (Chernous – 138lbs, Zavala – 144lbs) neither fighter was able to out power or out move the other.

Final match of the night Aaron “Gavilan” Garcia, San Diego (14-3-2, 4KO) versus Daniel “Huracan” Ramirez (10-1, 4KO) show Mission Valley what punching was all about.  “Huracan” had great punching and landing ability which “Gavilan” was able to match initially in this fast paced match-up.  “Huracan” rocked “Gavilan” with a series of hits and dropping him on the ropes briefly.  The referee checks on “Gavilan” who’s a little slow getting back on his feet and showing signs of frustration.  The match resumes and “Huracan” comes in like a man unleashed, unloading hit after hit until “Gavilan” goes down for the night and Daniel “Huracan” Ramirez wins California State Super Featherweight title. Visit www.bobbydpresents.com to get fight information and times.

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Photography by Alvin Miller

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Photography by Alvin Miller


Photography by Alvin Miller

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Photography by Alvin Miller


Photography by Alvin Miller

Photojournalist – Alvin Miller Abraham

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Posted on: August 12th, 2014 by tommyj

_h353_w628_m6_otrue_lfalse Today we lost a great American actor and comedian.  Rest In Peace Mr. Williams. To see full details click here for MSN News.

Jazz At The Creek

Posted on: July 20th, 2014 by tommyj


   If you are a veteran to the Jazz at the Creek concert series, you know you’re in for amazing performances. It is not uncommon to be entertained by the mastery of DJ John Phillips and anticipate an audience selfie with MC Ahmed “The Voice” Dent.
   Not to mention, the magic that happens between the audience and artist on stage is always unpredictable and Saturday, July 12 was no exception. In fact, the talent that hit the stage was exceptional.
Jeanette Harris was infectious on the saxophone, her own brand of funk and fire igniting the stage. Her renditions of R&B standards were crowd pleasers and had fans on their feet. She kept it mellow with cover songs like “That’s the Way Love Goes” and samplings of her own original music from “Saxified”, a recent CD that embodies what most important, “my family and my music,” Harris stated.  
Some may recognize her from the “Ladies in Pink” band, but she is a standout talent, composer and songwriter with a megawatt smile and fine-tuned band of musicians, she calls “The Jeanette Harris Band.”   
Jay Gore brought a ”different type of jazz,’’ according to the dynamic guitarist and composer, whose played with familiar jazz vets over the course of his career. The stage is not unfamiliar territory for Gore, he is the former lead guitarist for Mindi Abair, Hilary Duff, and Scott Grimes. At the creek, he shared a range of songs samplings inspired from great guitarists like, Paul Brown, and an original new project titled, “Purple Shoes.”
Gore served up a rapid secession of hits while switching out guitars like a fashion models changes clothes at a runway show. He mixed it up on stage with saxophone player, Curtis Brook and trumpeter, Willie Bradley and banged out notes and melody that kept the crowd busy clapping and patting their feet.
Phil Perry, the balladeer with a velvet voice, graced the stage next and brought back memories for fans who remember him from his days with The Montclair’s. Time only served to season this vocalists as he took everyone on a journey of hits from the 70’s to the present. Perry was a sought after artist and shared the stage with the likes of  George DukeNajeeBill WithersBarbra StreisandJohnny Mathis and more.
“Just Say Yes” and an ode to Earth, Wind and Fire’s, “Can’t Hide Love” are on the newest work from this self-proclaimed romantic. Perry beamed as he introduced his wife of 30 years to the crowd, spoke of his love for his four children and about his musical aspirations. He’s spent his total career singing about love and desire. “I thought I was the lasts of the romantics, but I can see by this audience I am not alone,” he shared.
This summer concert series will wrap up with an all-male show in August featuring Warren Hill, Jay White and DW3 finishing out the 2014 concerts at the creek with a mix of music you don’t want to miss.

Dustin Lynch Hits the West Coast

Posted on: June 15th, 2014 by tommyj

DustinLynch_photo1_300dpi-m_1San Diego, California or the West Coast has not been know for its Big Country Western sound in the music industry.  When you think about San Diego and the West Coast sound, you think of The Beach Boys, Van Halen, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, P.O.D., Poncho Sanchez (raised in Norwalk) and a host of other sounds.  You may not see them all on stage at one time but they all represent the diversity in sound that is the west coast. California has not been on the top of the list in producing great country western singers and musicians. East County communities of San Diego have long been and are big supporters of country music.  With small pockets of Country & Western venues sprinkled here in there (InCahoots in Mission Vally and Double Duces in the Gaslamp), it will be hard to find a bar with a mechanical bull to ride and/or enjoy watching a good ride, let alone do the most up to date 2 step. In Comes Dustin Lynch out of Nashville, Tennessee, bringing a little Country Swag to San Diego.  Dustin Will be peformong live Sunday night @ 8:00pm PST, inside ethe all new Tin Roof Bar & Restaurant, in the heart of the Gaslamp.  The Tin Roof is San Deigo’s newest performing venue where music is LIVE and so is the crowd. Will this be the start of the new invasion of Country to San Diego?

The note on the Bluebird Café’s Facebook page says it all: customers who visit the Nashville songwriters club – instrumental in the development of Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Kathy Mattea – are expected to keep quiet and listen to the words from some of Music City’s most influential composers.

It all goes back to the Bluebird for Lynch, a native of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Influenced in his youth by such stalwart country singers as Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Clint Black, Lynch knew the importance of the Bluebird, and he chose his college – David Lipscomb University – in part because it was less than two miles from the club, which proved immensely important in his development.DustinLynch_photo3_300dpi-m_0-1

Listening has an added benefit – it gives the listener a chance to learn.

That’s how singer-songwriter Dustin Lynch used the Bluebird. And he used it intensely. He rented an apartment behind the venue’s back parking lot and literally walked to the Bluebird several times a week to listen and learn about the mysterious art of creating songs from some of Nashville’s most important writers. Don Schlitz (“The Gambler”), Tony Arata (“The Dance”), Paul Overstreet (“Forever And Ever, Amen”) – all are mainstays of the Bluebird legend, and it was at their proverbial feet that he picked up key insights about the writing process.
“I was soaking it in, trying to be a sponge,” Lynch says. “I was mainly trying to hear the story behind the song, how it came about, what it’s really about. There’s something about understanding the songwriter’s realm. You get a little more grip on the way it was written and why it was written and how they got to the finished product.”

DustinLynch_photo2_300dpi-mThat education paid off in a big way for Lynch. He signed with Broken Bow Records – the home of Jason Aldean and sister label to Stoney Creek Records (home to Thompson Square) .His debut single, “Cowboy and Angels,” is quickly rising up the Country charts. Lynch is working with producer Brett Beavers (known for his work with Dierks Bentley) and engineer Luke Wooten (Brad Paisley, Sunny Sweeney) on his debut album (due August 21, 2012) with a backlog of his own songs. He’s written that material with a bundle of Music City’s top writers – Dallas Davidson (“Just A Kiss”), Tim Nichols (“Live Like You Were Dying”), Casey Beathard (“Don’t Blink”), Phil O’Donnell (“Back When I Knew It All”) and Steve Bogard (“Prayin’ For Daylight”), to name a few.

DustinLynch_Banner_300x250_v2Click here to watch Dustin’s Video Where It’s At

San Diego will be honored to have a rising star such as Dustin Lynch perform in an area where Country Music is not one of the staple products or sound.  Look for a follow up interview soon in The Image Of Magazine, as we follow the career of this soon to be mega star.  We are looking forward to supporting Dustin in his rise and keep his Country Swag alive here on the West Coast.  So if your father loves Country, show him that you really care and bring him to a one of a kind show in San Diego.


Tommy Jennings

Editor – The Image Of Magazine



Fingerprints at the San Francisco Black Film Festival

Posted on: June 11th, 2014 by tommyj

Fingerprints ArtClick here to see trailer of Fingerprints
Whether my creativity has expressed itself through poetry, songwriting (ASCAP), fiction, screenplays or drawings, the arts have always been great passions of mine.  Despite being among the few of my time raised without television, film for me became the ultimate canvas.  I started writing poetry for spoken-word performance and was working with local indie singers/music studios in San Diego when I relocated there at the age of 19.  At the same time, I also wanted to write a novel.  Point being, I was writing all the time.   I kept a book (before my lap top days) under my bed called, The Brain Storm, because I never knew when it was going to hit; the need to write something; a melody, a phrase, a poem an opening to a story at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning and I had to get it down on paper before it was lost.  A friend of mine had me show my writing to a writer on Moesha named Norman Vance.  Well, after reading a draft of my novel, Girlfriends, he convinced me into turning it into a script.  I did not, however, know the first thing about writing a screenplay or ever thought of writing for the screen but I did my research and wrote my first complete script.  That was all it took, I was RobynCharlesaddicted.  The visual arts, the poetry, the characters, storytelling all of it synthesized for me in screenwriting and I was determined to learn as much as I can.  I enrolled in San Diego Community College District and then transferred to UCLA after being admitted into the film program.  I went with the intention of becoming a screenwriter only, but the beauty of the undergraduate program at UCLA is that you have to do everything before you can concentrate in your senior year.  When I saw my first short-film project on the big screen, I became addicted and could not fathom writing without directing.  What I fell in love with is working with the actors.  So for my senior year, I completed the production track stayed an additional year to complete the screenwriting track and immediately applied to the Graduate Directing Program at UCLA.  I felt that at this point in my education – or should I say my journey – I was on the cusp of “becoming” for lack of a better word and if I did not continue my education, my growth as an artist would be stunted.  Thankfully, I was admitted and while completing the directing program also completed (unofficially) the screenwriting program writing several features and television projects as well as producing and directing several short films with Fingerprints being my feature debut.

THE SAN FRANCISCO BLACK FILM FESTIVAL was founded with the artistic vision to provide a platform for Black filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors to present their art. As a competitive film festival, SFBFF identifies filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors that are emerging as talents and established artists who are contributing to the cinematic legacy of African Americans. SFBFF conscientiously expands the notions of “Black film-making” to a global perspective. Hence, film submissions are accepted worldwide from filmmakers and screenwriters who are of African descent and others, or feature actors representing the African Diaspora..

unnamedFingerprints draws us into a world in which an individual is faced with battling demons that only arise from the most opaque recesses of the human mind – the outward manifestation of an internal war that is profoundly human. Gregory Marks is a comedian on the rise who does not realize his comedy is a defense mechanism that masks a dark side he unleashes when pursuing an Oscar-worthy performance in a dramatic role that sends him spiraling into madness. As a Juvenalian satire,unnamed-1 Fingerprints blurs the line between comedy and tragedy and like Black Swan and The Fighter it will catch you off guard as a psycho drama but with an urban twist anchored in the competitive world of the entertainment industry.

The idea of Fingerprints began with me wanting to explore the vulnerability of comedians and what caused them to implode under pressure.  At the time I began writing the story, almost every major comedian we all knew and loved had had some type public breakdown and by the time I was in post Kevin Hart had his Laugh at My Pain tour and Katt Williams was struggling.  For me the script was a great vehicle to explore the fragility of human nature by placing it in the superficial world of entertainment.  So I created this world based on popular misconceptions of what it means to work in Hollywood and be famous. I adore actors; the fragility, the vulnerability, the process.  Watching a great performance is like watching someone exposed, no skin, nerves raw and I am often time frustrated with those who do not respect “the process” arbitrarily assigning themselves the title of actor with absolutely no training or understanding of the psychological toll it takes to become great at the craft. unnamedWhat better way to explore the fragility of someone who hides behind his defense mechanisms as a comedian than to force him to delve into what he has suppressed while placing a level of trust in someone else’s hands (i.e. the director, acting coach, etc.) that for most is way to much to ask. 


The San Francisco Black Film Festival will be taking place at the theater in YOSHI’s (The Jazz Heritage Center’s Media & Education Room and the Burial Clay Theater (@ the A.A.A.C.C.). There will be special events and a Filmmakers Lounge for media types to socialize and network. Forums discussing the state of Independent Film and how you can cash in within the new environment as Online Streaming fights for good content. There will be a music aspect as well as we discuss “Scores” and show music documentarys supplemented by live shows with Q&A’s. This is the place how to find out how to get that project done within your budget parameters and find out how DIY are getting the job done. This festival is for everyone and everyone is invited! Come share the culture that helped shape San Francisco and enjoy great films that are of entertainment and importance to all. 

Other notable selections include Lion Of Kings fea. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Dennis Haysbert; That Daughter’s Crazy: Rain Pryor; The cChanging Faces of Harlem and Black and CUba.  Visit www.sfbff.org to get the full list of films and times, as well as events for the film SFBFF weekend.

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Jazz at the Creek

Posted on: June 9th, 2014 by tommyj

Jazz at the Creek with M.A.N.D.A.T.E. Records

By: Jacqueline Penhos


  JATClogoheader-v3_white2-copya copy          Bringing originality back and adding a new twist, that’s what Jazz at the Creek is all about. If you’re anything like me, you appreciate the sultry sounds of Bessie Smith, Etta Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, George Benson, and Ray Charles. A few Sundays ago I had the opportunity to meet a few of the new names added to the lovely genre, we call Jazz. Upon arrival, I immediately felt the smooth tempo and FAwJv-T_WS71-BwZ5CwpI9kLMVRc10GSmv70djio7DA,4BZjUB3y_6NJ6UIyIpf02igm7DmOQooLH2pI_qeGGPAfresh air. After a couple hellos and lots of hugs,  I started to meet the Artists. I had the pleasure of interviewing the one and only Marion Meadows. One of the best American Saxophonist, Composer, and smooth Jazz recording artist. Native of West Virgina, grew up in Connecticut,  Marion graced San Diego with his presence for the first time in 5 years. Jazz at the Creek motivated him to return. His passions for music, led him to appreciate the works of many jazz musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Duke Ellington. After studying jazz with Anthony Truglia, Meadows attended Berklee College of Music, where he majored in arranging and composition. He later went to SUNY Purchase School of the Arts where he studied under Ron Herder.  dLP7CiNcSXbaKqzCWbD_VbtiRrr_AyNRYBiFoYTK7o4,YTQVOkeCH_rvHbNatm8YAdwFRmz4fgIIc8b7kbOxOnEMarion has an eclectic group of inspirations, from Miles Davis to West Montgomery. Growing up in a household with a variety of music, in his words, “The Express Train, overwhelming.” “Unfortunately the generations coming up will never hear the marvelous icons we grew up with.” I asked his opinion of the future of our music industry and where do you think it’s going?  “It’s a good time for Artists (contemporary jazz artists), at least internationally, not so much in United States. It’s important for people (younger) to understand and appreciate the history of music. We haven’t kept up with the education of music. Our kids don’t  know about different genres of music because most schools do not have the budget for such programs.  Music always recycles around, generation after generation. If you’re a true musician then you learn about it and appreciate it.ZzDcGizD4dDk911rM8Tc5oli6WtvCVNcCbsuKyj0D7Y

            “This series brings Jazz to the community. Meaning, it affords an opportunity for those who are community involved, as well as those who are community jazz enthusiasts to come together in a multicultural setting, where they oriented, networking , and enjoy good music.” Enjoying Jazz at the Creek reminds our generation that Jazz is part of history. It must be honored and remembered. It brings me joy to know that young people are being conscious and positive.

The Groove Masters also wowed the crowd with a personal touch performance.  As they grooved the crowed on stage, several attendees were pleasantly surprised with a in your face, in your lap performance, as the band members played to and in the audience.  Locals such as Kelly Cole, Authur Mitchell, Douglas Oden and the owners of Baad Baby Clothing Diana Higgins and William Campbell got an upclose and personal show. As I was going to sit down and enjoy the show, I met Kelly Cole and Amehd Dense both radio personalities and Jazz lovers. Each show is also posted online. Ms. Cole believes in promoting new artists and new music.  Amehd is the Host for Jazz at the Creek and Lights Out with 98.1. Both were a joy to meet and learn from.

 hh_pLAQpL52rsak3vKofFnyCJsaK5r_QxOymnowt9owAmehd reminds us that a portion of each ticket purchased will go to the San Diego Food Bank Kids Backpack Program. There are children in San Diego, who are in need of food and essential items to help them grow in strength and confidence. What better way to make a donation to a child and enjoy an afternoon of soulistic vibes. Jazz at Market Creek plaza, sets a new perspective and positive energy to our community. Market Creek is the perfect location, to enjoy a weekend afternoon, listening to Jazz, enjoying a few bites while supporting the arts.  For more information, visit www.JazzattheCreek.com for showtimes any lineup. JazzCreek2014Postcardweb6

The next installment for Jazz at the Creek is this Saturday June 14.  It is recommended to arrive early for parking and good seating.  The lineup include industry leading guitarist Paul Brown with special guest Elan Trotman and Curtis Brooks. Jazz at the Creek is produced by M.A.N.D.A.T.E Records, Lead by Leonard Thompson (Masters of Education, Bachelors of Business Administration, Psychology of Business Management & Productivity) and Michelle Thompson, who are well known in the industry for seeking and finding talent, while developing artist for “Show Ready” status. M.A.N.D.A.T.E. Records produces quality shows and artist throughout the industry in gospel, R&B and jazz.  To find out more about MANDATE Records and future shows visit www.mandaterecords.com.




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Filling Station Pub – Bikini Contest Vol. 1

Posted on: June 5th, 2014 by tommyj

Bikini_Contest The first Bikini Contest of the year in San Diego takes place at The Filling Station Pub.  This is the 3rd annual and the military patrons are never disappointed because they get to chose their winners.  Be sure to check out the first of many bikini shows this summer in San Diego and across the country. We are always looking for our first bikini cover for The Image Of Magazine.  Who knows, maybe this weeks winner from the Filling Station Pub will be chosen for the  cover shot for a upcoming feature.

The Filling Station Pub is one of SanDiego’s top venues that cater to our military with a chilled atmosphere and great drinks and specials.  For the local crowd The Filling Station Pub is a great watering hole and good food prices.  The DJ’s are some of San Diego’s best and karaoke selections are as diverse and the city itself… The singers, well lets just say most of them give it the ole college try.  But don’t be surprised when you do hear a singer or two make Simon and Randy have a kumbaya moment.

The Contest starts at 11:00pm but the fun begins when the doors open.  Lets see what fun we can have this Saturday night and who walks away with the top prize.

The Filling Station is located at 9522 Miramar Rd, San Diego, CA 92126.  Call (858) 578-0757 for more details.

San Diego Jazz Fest – Mint Condidition

Posted on: May 20th, 2014 by tommyj

Once upon a time there were great funk/R&B bands like Earth Wind & Fire, The Meters, War, Kool & The Gang, Slave, and numerous others who constantly broke down musical barriers. The musicality of these units was superior – they could rock or funk out as easily as they could move the crowd with a tenor soulful ballad. The rise of electronic music gradually undermined self-contained bands but in the 90s a dynamic young new band emerged—Mint Condition, now the greatest self-contained R&B band of our time. Anointed early on by superstar producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (formerly of the band The Time), Mint Condition does it all—delivering hard-bitten funk with a hip hop edge, rocking out with screaming lead guitar, and crooning lush, “baby-making” soul ballads. The much sought after band, who mark their 20th Anniversary this year, has amassed a string of hits and performs hundreds of live shows each year. In the Fall of 2010 when Prince took the podium at the legendary Apollo to announce his “Welcome To America,” and his plans to feature his favorite artists, it was no shock to many that Mint Condition was among them. The only band on his list that day? Mint Condition. During the month of February, TV One tapped Mint Condition as the house band seen and heard every night on the show “Way Black When,” which celebrated the biggest African American stars throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. With not one but two current hit singles on board—the sumptuous “Caught My Eye” and lead singer Stokley’s duet with Kelly Price, “Not My Daddy,” Mint Condition marks the 20th anniversary of its first chart hit with the release of 7… (Mint Condition’s seventh studio album) due out on Shanachie Entertainment/Caged Bird April 5, 2011.

“This time around we decided to not let ourselves become bogged down with strict thematic or musical boundaries,” notes keyboard player Larry El. “We wanted, instead, to do a project that would be expressive of life’s multi-facets. For the first time in our career, we looked back into our own musical catalogue for inspiration and resources. Without being a direct throwback, 7… weaves threads of nostalgia into the musical mix. It’s kind of an ode to Minneapolis, Mint Condition style.” 7… sounds unlike anything else in the R&B world -or any other world—today, once again demonstrating that Mint Condition is one of those rare artists on the scene with their own unique sound. Along with Mint Condition’s bedrock funk and R&B balladry, elements of jazz, rock, and hip hop come into the mix. They have always delivered these elements live but here they are a part of their studio work. Nothing is formulaic or routine with Mint Condition, starting with the opening tracks “Can’t Get Away” and “I Want It,” which are seamlessly linked to play straight through, to “Twenty Years Later,” an off-the-wall narrative depicting a 47 year-old addict wondering what happened to the last twenty years of his life, which opens with acoustic guitar and climaxes with an ironic jaunty Vegas-style vamp. It is the kind of organic creativity that only Mint Condition could achieve, an extra ingredient that years of playing together make it possible for them to deliver. In an era dominated by singles, 7… is truly an album, designed to be heard as a whole.

“Each member of the band is equally invested in both the music and the group itself,” Larry El explains

“So when performing we can more readily live on the edge, musically speaking, where its most interesting, and still not lose t he original spirit and intent of the songs. Any given member can readily play what any other member is thinking or feeling.” It is this kind of organic, edgy creativity that has made Mint Condition one of Prince’s favorite artists. “In many ways, he (Prince) continues to be a mentor for us,” says guitarist O’Dell. “He’s a musical genius yet is never condescending. He has a way of making you feel he’s your biggest fan—we certainly are his! He’s the best. Watching him perform always sends you back to the shed; you know you still have work to do.”

An unusual fact for a funk/R&B band that can also rock out, is that some of Mint Condition’s biggest hits have been ballads and 7… delivers several more great ballads that are destined to be classics including the inspirational “Unsung,” “Not My Daddy,” the duet with Kelly Price and Stokley, with its unique lyric take on male/female relationships and, of course, the first hit single from the album, “Caught My Eye,” with subtle lyrics that stand head and shoulders above the “sex you up” love ballads dominating the scene today. “The lyrics (of “Caught My Eye”) tell it all,” relates Stokley, who wrote the tune with Larry El. “It’s a literal translation. But, at the heart of it all, is vulnerability. We have all felt those `first encounter’ butterflies before. The band knew everybody would be able to relate to that.”

The members of Mint Condition met as teenagers growing up in the Twin Cities—Minneapolis-St. Paul amidst a thriving music scene energized by Prince, The Time, Jam & Lewis, The Replacements, Soul Asylum and many other artists. Keyboardists Lawrence El and Keri Lewis, guitarist O’Dell, keyboardist/saxophonist Jef, drummer/vocalist Stokley, and bass player Ricky came together in the performing arts program at Central High School. Playing together in different combinations led to them forming Mint Condition; a gig at the famed First Avenue club in 1989 caught the attention of super-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, formerly of The Time, and they were signed to Jam & Lewis’ Perspective Records. MEANT TO BE MINT, their debut album, was released in 1991. Their first single, a New Jack Swing-styled number, had only modest success but it was a ballad, “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes),” which has become one of the classic R&B ballads of our time, that was their breakthrough, hitting #3 on the R&B charts and #6 on the Pop charts, with the follow-up “Forever In Your Eyes” hitting #7 on R&B charts. Mint Condition was established as a gold-selling act. Further hit singles and albums followed, with “U Send Me Swingin’,” “Someone To Love” and “So Fine” all hitting from the FROM THE MINT FACTORY album, “What Kind Of Man Would I Be” (another acknowledged classic) and “You Don’t Have To Hurt No More” from DEFINITION OF A BAND.

Meanwhile the band earned its spurs as a live act, touring relentlessly and, unlike so many artists, delivering not only a performance equal to their studio work but one which often surpassed it. As a result, their legions of fans would turn out for a Mint Condition show whether they had a current hit out or not. After Perspective Records folded, Mint Condition signed with Elektra, delivering more hits with “If You Love Me” and “Is This Pain Our Pleasure” from the LIFE’S AQUARIUM album. In the early 2000s the group took a break from their relentless recording and touring schedule. They resumed as a quintet with only keyboard player Keri Lewis absent (though he sometimes re-joined them for specific shows releasing a new album LIVING THE LUXURY BROWN on their own Caged Bird label in 2005, hitting again with “I’m Ready.” Their high-energy live performance was captured with the release of LIVE AT THE 9:30 CLUB and then 2008’s E-LIFE yielded another hit with “Nothing Left To Say.

Two decades on, Mint Condition stands along with The Roots as the only high-profile examples of a self-contained, hit-making Black music band, and with Mint’s emphasis on songs and great singing, the sole band carrying on the great tradition of R&B funk bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire, The Meters, War, The Commodores, Lakeside, Slave and many more that were an important, progressive element of the black music scene in the Seventies and Eighties. “We’re fortunate that people have come to expect us to march to our own drum, musically speaking,” says bassist Ricky. And even though we have carved out our own unique creative path, we’ve always been well embraced.”