Mint Condition at TBAAL in Dallas this Saturday talks with DSN’s Lorrie Jackson
By Lorrie Irby Jackson – Reporter
After twenty years, six studio albums, multiple hit singles and years of touring around the world, some bands are ready to kick back, count up the royalties and call it a day. But that’s not exactly the case for Mint Condition.
Not only is the St. Paul, MN-based quintet performing a series of summer dates (including their show at Dallas’ TBAAL on Saturday), the band is putting the finishing touches on new material and remains enthusiastic about maintaining their momentum in today’s turbulent music industry. In fact, according to multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter, Stokley Williams, now is the perfect time for them to get their groove back.
“We have our own unique lane. People are rediscovering soul, and figuring out where to go find it. Everything is cyclical,” Williams says by phone while preparing for the Houston and Dallas dates. “Folks love the real music and then they forget about it due to all of the other distractions out there, so now may be the time for people to discover us again,” he said. “We’re blessed to be doing our passion; we’re getting around the world, meeting people, and spreading it along.”
Their methods are obviously successful and responsible for smash singles such as “U Send Me Swingin’,” “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes),” What Kind of Man Would I Be,” “Whoa” and “Nothing Left to Say” (an enduring favorite from their 2008 CD eLife). Mint Condition’s ability to combine the musicality and showmanship of soul’s golden era with a contemporary edge is what keeps them in the mix.
And while he can’t pinpoint the direction their latest project is taking them just yet, Mr. Williams hopes it will drop by the end of the year and promises that it won’t be anything less than quality. “here’s always the element of organic music playing and the technology running through it, we’re just deciding on how the framework is going to be on this one,” Williams said. “The biggest parameter is that it just can’t be whack,” he laughs.
Maintaining that creative focus was a difficult task recently, due to the sudden death of one of their all-time iconic idols, Michael Jackson. The band was performing in Dallas with Kem and Charlie Wilson days after his death and everyone in the band seemed to bear the weight of the sad news. “All of us were like, ‘wow, a public family member just died, you know?’ Not unlike a lot of people, I had to pull my car over, like, ‘what…the…hell?’ ” Williams said.
As sad as it was, Mr. Williams chose to process the loss as a teachable moment. “I just saw Sugarfoot (of the Ohio Players), for example, never thought I’d get to meet him. But I sat down and talked with him for awhile and said man, you don’t realize what you’ve done and I just want to say thank you,” Williams said. If I ever get a chance to meet more of my musical heroes, those who made a dent in the way I sound, I tell em’ now. That way I can feel good about it. Tell em’ how you feel right then and there; don’t wait for some kind of tribute to do it,” he said.
It’s this sense of gratitude that will fuel their fire when they perform on July 3 at the Essence Music Festival this summer and join another world-renowned game-changer, Prince, as he tours in Europe. The music industry isn’t as easy to navigate as it was when they first started, but Mr. Williams says the band enjoys being independent artists. Their last two CDs were released under their own imprint, Caged Bird Records, distributed through Image Entertainment. Williams says the only way they can express their gratitude to their loyal following is to keep it hot, keep it fresh and to keep it moving.
“We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough,” he says humbly. “That’s how we love y’all back, getting out there and touching people. That’s what we do to keep the relationship going!”
The Black Academy of Arts and Letters
Naomi Bruton Main Stage
650 S. Griffin Str. Dallas, TX 75202
Sat, May 29, 2010 08:00 PM-11:00 PM
Lorrie Irby Jackson is a freelance journalist based in Dallas and has covered entertainment professionally for several years, writing many articles for The Dallas Morning News. Her e-mail address is email@example.com