R&B stalwarts Mint Condition will perform at the 30th Annual Rondo Days Festival Celebration on Saturday, July 20th at the Rondo Education Center’s Field at 560 Concordia Avenue in St. Paul. The festivities will begin with a 5K Walk & Run, a parade, and will be followed by the opening ceremonies featuring invited guests: Mayor Chris Coleman, Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, Minnesota House of Representatives Rena Moran, and Rondo Days founders Marvin Roger Anderson and Floyd G. Smaller.
In addition to Mint Condition, the entertainment will also feature other local artists, bands, dance and spoken-word performances. A schedule of entertainment and a listing of the artists is available at www.RondoAvenueInc.org or www.Facebook.com/RondoAvenueInc.
It was a banner year in 2012 for R&B’s hottest band, Mint Condition, who celebrated their 20th anniversary that year. Their album 7… was critically hailed, featuring a top-10 hit (“Not My Daddy” with Kelly Price, which earned two Grammy nominations) and two top-20 singles (“Caught My Eye” and “Walk On”). Jet Magazine called 7…, “The kind of CD you can put on and play all the way through” and The Philadelphia Inquirer raved, “This is what honest, open, mature soul sounds like. Pay attention!”
Mint Condition was also tapped to appear on Prince’s Welcome 2 America tour and they were selected as the house band for TV One’s Way Black When.
Mint Condition has released seven studio albums that have been stretched out during their career. Their latest CD, Music @ the Speed of Life, which sounds like nothing else on the scene today, was released to rave reviews on September 25, 2012, just a year after 7…, once again demonstrating that Mint Condition is one of those rare artists with their own unique sound. Highlights on the CD include the funky head nodder, “Girl of My Life,” which describes one of the band members’ experiences as the odd man out in the search for love as he witnessed the rest of the band settling down. The track features DJ Jazzy Jeff and a riveting drum solo by Stokley.
The new album’s vibe and feel call to mind Mint Condition’s timeless breakthrough hits “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” and “What Kind of Man Would I Be,” while at the same time showcases their incomparable chops. Their soulful anthems, serious grooves and sublime songwriting draw upon the great R&B band tradition ignited by Earth Wind & Fire, The Meters, Kool & the Gang, War and others. Mint Condition is truly the only band in R&B upholding this history and pushing it forward into a new era. They are, without a doubt, the greatest self-contained R&B band of our time.
“This past year has been both amazing and amazingly busy; just the way we like it,” confesses one of the members of Mint Condition. “We definitely think we’re headed in the right direction. It’s kind of strange to say that after two decades but we feel it’s our time now, we’ve paid a lot of dues, been schooled in the business, honed our craft, in other words, we’ve gone to the ‘puppet show’ and seen the strings!”
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 Jeff, drummer/vocalist Stokley, and bass player Ricky came together in the performing arts program at St. Paul Central High School of the Rondo Neighborhood. 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 the ballad, “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes),” which has become one of the classic R&B ballads of our time that was their breakthrough hit, reaching number 3 on the R&B charts and number 6 on the pop charts. Mint Condition has garnered a devoted following and cultivated a genuine connection with their audience. A member of the band reflects, “We believe by staying true you become vulnerable in many ways and people feel that, whether it’s joy, love or pain, it comes across in the music and people embrace that.
It is with great pleasure and excitement that Rondo Avenue, Inc. and the Rondo neighborhood is fortunate to have a national R&B group from the Rondo community and surrounding area headlining the entertainment stage at this 30 Year Anniversary Celebration of Rondo Days.
Information provided by Rondo Avenue, Inc.