The President of Mindi Abair's fan club featured Cathy and I in her September newsletter Mindiworld. Read what she had to say about us and our long standing relationship with Mindi...
By: Pam McGregor
I've known Cathy Powers and Roland Guilarte for years and have been lucky enough to have attended many great concerts with Mindi in Melbourne, Florida. As I mentioned earlier, they will be putting on a wonderful weekend with our favorite artist and friends. I thought it would be interesting to share how their passion for smooth jazz has helped keep our favorite music alive in Florida.
1. What are your backgrounds?
Cathy is a practicing physician in the specialty of radiology. She subspecializes in women's imaging, including mammography and breast biopsies, but she also covers the ER and trauma radiology such as CT scans, MRI, ultrasound, and x-rays on weekends and nights.
Roland is originally from Cuba and went to school in Rockville, Maryland where he played drums in several bands, including top 40 and jazz. At a band rehearsal, he heard Spyro Gyra's Morning Dance. He said that day defined him for the next 38 years of his musical life. He moved to Rockledge, Florida in 1985 where he opened the Record Hut, a music and audio retail store. In 1987, he met Jeff Simpson, son of legendary "Jazz on the Beach" radio personality and traditional jazz promoter, Jack Simpson. He played in Jeff's band for two years. They performed "contemporary jazz" tuned by Jeff Lorber Fusion, Spyro Gyra, John Klemmer, David Sanborn and many others, as well as some traditional jazz classics. His store took off so he left playing and focused on the Record Hut. He opened stores in Palm Bay and Satellite Beach. He retired from retail in 1996 after the promotions business he began in 1993 started taking root.
2. How long have you been involved in promoting music? How did you and Cathy hook up?
Roland fell into promoting music in 1993. He presented his first concert June 1, 1993 with Ken Navarro as the artist. His first King Center concert was Russ & The Rippingtons on October 15, 1994. Some of the artists that he has presented to name a few are Jeff Lorber with Art Porter on sax , David Sanborn & Chris Botti ,The Original Smooth Jazz Christmas with Peter White, Rick Braun, and Mindi, as well as many Guitars & Saxes shows. Mindi opened in the beginning for Spyro Gyro. He said this was a real dream come true since Spyro Gyra had a special place in his heart, but he said that Mindi stole the show.
Cathy, her husband Mark and Roland connected in 2006 while he was living in Massachusetts after Shannon West gave them his contact info. They began co-presenting concerts in 2008. He said that it's been a great partnership which has created many amazing concerts, two cruises, and now the jazz weekend and the Casselberry Jazz Festival. They understand and respect each other's place and their efforts together bring us more jazz. Roland said that he 's very pleased and happy working with Cathy & the Florida Smooth Jazz Foundation.
The original Brevard Jazz Series changed its name in 2010 to Brevard Music Group. The company widened its musical promoting repertoire to include rock/classic rock, acoustic, folk and blues as well as specialty events at several Brevard county venues.
Cathy and her husband Mark started a 501(c)(3) charity to produce and promote smooth jazz concerts in Florida in 2005, which is how the Florida Smooth Jazz Foundation began. Some of the first shows that they presented were Euge Groove, Paul Brown, the Rippingtons, Chuck Loeb, Kim Waters, and the Yellowjackets.
They were introduced to Roland by Shannon West who is a writer for Smoothviews.com. She lives in Jacksonville and she was already a friend of Roland's. Cathy met Shannon at several concerts in Florida and she learned about their Foundation and what they were doing at that time in Tampa. She thought it would be good for them to meet Roland so that they could work together on doing shows. So here they are, almost 10 years later, working together on numerous concerts, partnering on two Florida Smooth Jazz Cruises, working on the upcoming Florida Smooth Jazz Festival in Orlando Nov. 8, 2014 with Norman Brown, Gerald Albright, and the Rippingtons, and the Florida Smooth Jazz Weekend featuring Mindi, Rick Braun, Nick Colionne, Jackiem Joyner, and Peter White!
Mark and Cathy have been passionate smooth jazz fans since the late 80s, beginning in Cleveland, OH listening to the WAVE. She's not quite sure how it happened, but they were huge fans of Led Zeppelin and Van Halen, and somehow they started listening to Kenny G and Jean Luc Ponty. She recalls that one of their first smooth jazz concerts was the Rippingtons and David Benoit around 1990. After moving to Florida in 1992, they continued to attend many concerts, driving over an hour each way to Orlando or Tampa from their home in Ocala. After moving to Tampa in 2004, they started the Foundation. They have been in Cocoa Beach since 2007 and they've been doing shows with Roland since about 2008 almost exclusively on the East coast of Florida.
3. Do you know when the first time that you booked Mindi was? Was it by herself or part of the Peter White Christmas show? What do you like most about Mindi and how many times have you booked her?
Roland first booked Mindi as the opening act for Craig Chaquico in August of 2004. It was a special concert for him, since it was the first time his son, Justin attended. He received her CD as a promo while producing the Lite Jazz Brunch (the radio show ran from 1992 to 2008 on Sundays from 8 am to 12 noon on 99.3 fm). He was so impressed by her music, he decided to book her as Chaquico's opener and he said she also stole this show! She came back as part of The Peter White Christmas show in 2005 and again with Spyro Gyra in July and then Peter in December of 2006. He said that it has been amazing to watch how she has grown as a sax player and a writer over all these years. Roland said that he booked her at least 4 times on his own and another 3 times with Cathy. Cathy said that Mindi is always engaging and gracious with her fans and is an incredible performer.
4. Please tell me about the exciting weekend that you have planned at the end of January with Mindi and 4 other super artists.
The Florida Smooth Jazz Weekend is something that Roland and Cathy have wanted to do for several years. The success of their Florida Smooth Jazz Cruises (which Bill and I were lucky enough to go on one) led them to want to do a similar event but with the comfort and amenities that a luxury beachfront hotel resort such as the Crowne Plaza could offer.
Mindi, Rick Braun, Nick Colionne, Jackiem Joyner, and Peter White will be performing with some of the best back up musicians there are, including Randy Jacobs, Ron Reinhardt, Nate Kearney Jr., and Third Richardson. Their guests will be treated to concerts with Mindi, Peter White, Rick Braun, and Jackiem Joyner, with after party specialist Nick Colionne performing both nights after the 2 main shows. The artists will be performing individually and together throughout the weekend, stopping in to the after parties, and then with a grand finale that Cathy said will be incredible.
Cathy said staying at the same hotel all weekend and having brunches and dinners together allows friends to share this amazing event and gives everyone the chance to make new friendships. It also allows everyone to visit with the artists in a relaxed setting, just like the week long cruises, but without the exorbitant cost and hassles of a cruise. Their guests have the option of making the event a quick weekend getaway, or turning it into a longer winter vacation in sunny Florida on the beach or nearby Orlando.
5. What one-on-one things do you have planned?
Saturday afternoon will allow the guests the option of doing things with the artists. They will be offering a flats fishing excursion on the calm waters of the Indian River lagoon with Nick Colionne. Jackiem is looking forward to planning a water sports excursion. And Mindi will find something special for her fans, too! Maybe a tanning excursion!
The link to find out more is www.floridasmoothjazzweekend.com. Why not come join us in Sunny Florida and relax and enjoy a fabulous weekend of Mindi and Peter,Rick,Nick,and Jackiem?
As always, thank you for your support and friendship. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming shows!
Feel free to email me with your thoughts and comments. I always enjoy hearing from you.