It will be Rhythm and Blues galore when the bands Tony! Toni! Tone! and Mint Condition take the stage at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on May 30th at 8pm. I spoke with bass guitarist Rick Kinchen of Mint Condition, and D’Wayne Wiggins of Tony! Toni! Tone!
Minneapolis group, Mint Condition, is known for their diverse elements of rock, funk, Latin, jazz stylings and Jamaican based rhythms. Their hits were “Believe in Us,” “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes),” “What Kind of Man Would I Be?” were extremely popular, some even went gold.
“I love performing and meeting people. That’s the best,” claimed Kinchen.
Other Mint condition band members include Stokley Williams (vocals & drums), Homer O’Dell (guitar) Larry Waddel (keyboards), Jeff Allen (sax and keys) and Keri Lewis (guitar & keys) who left the band to produce his wife Toni Braxton and other artists.
“I grew up during a great time in music. My older brothers had in their music collection bands like Parliament Funkadelic, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, War, Queen, Earth, Wind and Fire, Jimi Hendrix, Ohio Players, et al. As band members we have listened to jazz and many styles of music that have influenced us as a band. We also do ballads. Everyone in the group writes songs. Women inspire us so we write about them and other life experiences,” said the bass guitarist, who claims the group is in the studio working on a Mint Condition Christmas album.
TONY! TONI! TONÉ! came out of their Oakland, California neighborhood gangbusters with their album “WHO. “Who” went gold and spawned the #1 R&B hit “Little Walter.” The group consists of brothers D’Wayne Wiggins (vocals & guitar), Raphael Saadig (lead vocals & bass) and their cousin Timothy Christian Riley (drums & keyboards), and another family member Amar Ameil who has been with them since 1999. Their second album The Revival garnered platinum status with R&B hits “It Never Rains In Southern California,” “The Blues,” “Whatever You Want” and “Feels Good” which went Gold and won the ASCAP Award. The group won the Vocal Group of the Year NAACP Image Award and the American Music Award for Favorite R&B/Soul Group. Not to be outdone, their third record Sons of Soul went Double Platinum, charting at #3 (R&B). It included the hits “Anniversary” (#2 R&B), “(Lay Your Head On My) Pillow” #4 R&B.
“The name Tony Toni Tone happened to be the nickname of a roommate of mine. We created this image because we had a certain style of dress we called Tony Toni Tone. We joked around with the Tony Toni Tone thing long before we even started the band. We used to jam at the house and did jam battles. “Our song “Hey Little Walter” was our message to folks that if you did evil and bad things, those bad things come back on you one way or the other. We always wanted music that had a message. It’s more than just a beat to us. Hey Little Walter we took from the song, “Wading in the Water.” We grew up when crack hit our communities in the 1980s and we wanted to give a message about that,’ stated Wiggins who mentioned their “Revival” and “Sons of Soul” albums went platinum or double platinum. “I think we may have 6 platinum albums. We won an American Music Award and then won a Grammy with Alicia Keys via the Diary. We are a R&B band but if you get down to it we are really 100% a jam band. Performing on stage is like therapy for us. There is never a dull moment for the Tonys,” claimed D’Wayne Wiggins.
D’Wayne talked about the different formats they used over the years to record. “We go back to 2 inch tapes, cassettes and even recorded on Wax with a song “It’s a Beautiful Thing.” It’s a limited edition. We notice in other countries they are big on Wax. Back in the day we would get in depth with our album covers. We would develop a theme that moved from each single and each flowed with the album and people would collect those album covers. We had a certain feel and vibe to our albums. We took the time to think of what we wanted to say. The House of music album cover we took in the hotel where John Beluchi passed away. ‘Animal House” and the ‘Five Heart Beats,” are favorite movies but I remember Beluchi especially for Animal House,” recalled the singer.
“Tony! Toni! Tone! is also involved in their Non Profit in the Bay Area, wherein they are involved in mentoring young artists and youth via schools. People can check out their nonprofit endeavors at www.youthaidnonprofit.org. We are also interested in preserving rhythm and blues and passing it down authentically,” stated D’Wayne.
Fans looking forward to seeing Mint Condition and Tony! Toni! Tone! at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on March 30th at 8:00 p.m can call 718-960-8833 for tickets or go on line at www.LehmanCenter.org