Stokley Williams of Mint Condition

As a music blogger, I get the opportunity to see a number of shows. Some of them are great and others make you question is it really a “live show” if an artist lip syncs to an autotuned vocal? Like seriously…should I be applauding this because I didn’t get the memo?!?!? But regardless of the debatable things I’ve witnessed, there are others that totally create a moment. For instance, I can think back to I my freshman year in high school, listening to the radio on my Panasonic boom box – yes….I did say my Panasonic boom box . After the DJ said something I can barely remember, I recall hearing these dramatic chords began by a 6 piece band with one lead singer subtlety whispering, “Pretty…..brown…….eyes”. The moment I heard Breaking My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes) , I knew Mint Condition not only played a chord in my ear but they left an imprint in my love for music. Not that it wasn’t enough that this band was under the direction of my favorite music producers, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, but I hadn’t heard a sound like that since precociously rummaging in my mother’s  old funk band albums. 

So, the moment I got the ok to cover Mint Condition’s concert in Atlanta, I rolled up and did the Dougie like Michelle Obama. Yeah, I could play it off and pretend like  I was unfazed by this situation but truthfully speaking, screw that! I’m a blogger second and a fan first. I was geeked by the opportunity and couldn’t think of anything better then covering a band with such incredible talent and longevity. As we get to the night of the concert , I am completely hyped and full of expectations. Every moment, I’m sitting on the ledge of apprehension and yearning but what happens next may take you for a loop. If I can be real, I will say this. Yes, granted, I expected Mint Condition to play numerous hits like Caught My Eye and So Fine which true enough, they did.  However, I was “shocked” when they didn’t live up to my high expectations. As a matter of fact, they were “beyond” my expectations and soooo much more!

As the stage lights pulsed beneath the music, guitarists, Homer O’Dell and Ricky Kinchen quickly strapped up in position while Jeffrey Allen and Larry Waddell were already on keys. Drummer, Brandon Commodore was all set but there still remained one member who hadn’t hit the stage. Hearing his voice in the distance but anxious for his arrival, the crowd went wild as lead singer, Stokley Williams finally strutted on stage with an embroidered blazer complimented by a loosely fitted tie, a tilted paperboy hat and a charismatic presence. In full excitement,  Mint Condition got it started with their E-Life single,  Look Whachu Done 2 Me as the crowd danced in their seats. While the show continued,  the mood was set and Stokley flirtatiously called out to the ladies signaling the song every woman swooned to hear, So Fine as O’Dell played a wicked guitar intro to set the atmosphere. Mint Condition had a number of highlighting moments, but one instance was a definite standout.  Beneath the blue spotlight, Ricky began to sing the reflective cut, Why Do We Try as Stokley strapped his guitar and later joined him in song. In constant rhythm, Stokley, Ricky and O’Dell played with finesse on the guitar strings. As they continued to play, Stokley quickly jumped on the drums and played like a man possessed in passion along with fellow drummer, Brandon Commodore. In an excited frenzy, both drummers were hard in battle then seamlessly they synchronized as one mirroring each other side by side. The crowd lost their mind and I tried not to drop my camera from seeing such an exciting moment. Another celebrated flash was Mint Condition’s performance of Nothing Left To Say with Stokley’s climatic ending. Using  subtle pauses along with beautifully textured riffs, his vocals were completely alluring. With a collage of hits, new music from their current album, 7, and spontaneous instrumental sessions also featuring a moving sax solo with Jeffrey Allen, Mint Condition brought an effortless fusion of  funk, soul, R&B, jazz, rock and reggae. But when it was all over and the band left the stage, the crowd screamed in a loud stir only for the group to return and close the night with Breaking My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes).

Watching Mint Condition was more than seeing “the definition of a band”, it was like seeing the group in “high definition”, 1080p with 1,920 pixels and everything!! It’s great when you can love a musician or group  after years of hearing them and still discover something new about them that makes you fall deeper in love. It just makes you wanna “peel off all the layers” cause “you see so many delicious flavors.”  Isn’t that the way real musicians should make you feel? So with that said, I can’t applaud Mint Condition enough for their May 3rd show in Atlanta. However, I will say this.  Even though they did play for a couple of  hours, I selfishly wished it was longer. When a show is that good, you never want it to end!

Now, if you haven’t picked up MC’s latest album, 7, there is no excuse you could possibly give to justify this matter. In an industry quick to give you bad artists who create bad music and give you bad shows, you surely can’t give me a reason why Mint Condition, a group known for giving great music, putting 150% in their live show and creating music with a sense of integrity, isn’t in your collection. Like seriously, what rebuttal could you give to defend this argument? So on that note, let me help you redeem yourself. To get this great album, you need to go to Amazon, iTunes, or to their site.  And don’t forget to check Mint Condition’s tour schedule to see when they will be in your town.  Tickets to this show are a must!!! Oh, and check out the concert pic too….. 🙂

-WestStyle Chronicles aka Hope West   

Hope is a music enthusiast and continual student of photography. Also known to rock out a quiet church or elevator with her current ringtone, Tom & Jerry’s Uncle Paco, “Crambone”.