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Thursday, September 13, 2018

By Chris Frost



Oxnard Beach Park was bouncing, Sept. 8, as the 3rd Annual Oxnard Jazz Festival drew a huge crowd that enjoyed the day and spent most of their time partying and dancing.

The day featured performers: ConFunkShun, Greg Adams & East Bay Soul, Kelly Zirbes, Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers, Paul Brown, Pete Escovedo, Rick Parma, and TIERRA.

Attendees also enjoyed arts, crafts, food and many shopper delights at the Vendor Marketplace.

Publicist Sheryl Aronson said Chuck Dennis, the promoter of the festival, made sure great acts came to Oxnard.

“He bases it on the demographics of Oxnard, and then he invites different groups to come,” she said. “We have Latin Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, and smooth jazz. It’s a great combination of music.”

She spent her time making sure that lots of media come to the show.

“I interview the artists, take photos and everything,” she said.

The Oxnard Jazz Festival is community oriented, she said, and a little bit smaller.

“People come, and you can look out there and see the community of people,” she said. “They party, dance, and it’s fabulous.”

She said Dennis has a team of people who reach out to the vendors at the festival.

“It’s been a great day,” Aronson said.

Opening Act Sunny Sinclair was all smiles after her performance and said she sings smooth jazz.

“At first, you’re nervous and clenching your hands and sweating a little bit, but when you see the crowd you let it go,” she said. “I’m still a little nervous, but the feeling has passed.”

She looks forward to meeting some jazz greats.

“I’m still waiting to meet the guys from Con Funk Shun,” she said. “I remember my parents playing their songs when I was young.”

She said the song “Lucy” was her sweet spot during the show.

“My parents used to blast that,” she said. “I remember it playing upstairs through my house.”

Publicist Essex Porter said the Oxnard Jazz Festival is a great venue for Sunny.

“It’s growing, and they give many artists an opportunity to go out and showcase their talents,” he said.

Sunny Sinclair is available on Instagram.

Felton Pilate from Con Funk Shun said he’s new to the band and started in 1979. He loves how it feels to bring a great performance to the crowd.

“You know that feeling you get when your employer tells you good job; I get that from several thousand of my employers at the same time,” he said. “That’s my high. It’s euphoria and a feeling of excitement.”

The band is “still bumpin” after 45 years, he said, and they perform so often they can do it in their sleep.

“The energy is different every night,” he said.

Pilate decided music should be his calling at his junior high school prom.

“There was a band playing, and I spent the entire evening in front of the band saying this is what I want to do,” he said. “I was 15, I started my own band at 16, and I haven’t stopped yet. My mother still asks me when I’m going to get a real job.”

He said Con Funk Shun hasn’t been to Oxnard in a long time.

“We have some brand-new members of the Con Funk Shun family,” he said. “It’s always good to play for people who have never seen us before. That’s always a big thrill for me.”

After the show, he said its time for some quiet.

“I’m 65 years old, and I am going to go home and take a nap,” he said.

The band delivered and got the crowd up dancing, well, bumping, for sure.

Stephanie Villarreal enjoys Con Funk Shun a lot but had no plans to dance.

“Probably not right now,” she said. “Maybe later.”

Saxophonist Mindi Abair led her band “Mindi Abair and the Bone Shakers” and said Bonnie Raitt named the group.

“Randy Jacobs started the Bone Shakers and was a founding member of “Was Not Was,” Abair said. "He was in Bonnie Raitt’s band and did records with her."

The Bone Shakers was a blues-rock band that started in Hollywood, she said, and was crazy great.

“Bonnie heard them playing some of their early stuff and said, “what are you guys doing out the shakin’ them bones,” Abair said.

Fast forward a bunch of years, she said, and she played on a bunch of records with Jacobs.

“I sat in with them one night at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, and it was electric,” she said. “There was something about it. That’s what music is supposed to be.”

She loves Clarence Clemmons from the E Street Band.

“I grew up watching a lot of MTV and Rock n’ Roll,” Abair said. “My father plays and put together a bunch of rock bands when I was a kid.”

She would watch the bands play and have a blast.

“I looked at Saxophone as something strong, heavy and fun,” she said. “You’d watch the big man (Clemmons) play with (Bruce) Springsteen, and it’s just powerful.”

She played with Springsteen right after Clemmons passed away.

“I had been touring with Max (Weinberg), and he knew that I knew every Clarence Clemmons solo,” Abair said.  “I played “Spirit in the Night” at the Beacon Theater in New York, and I was like okay, I can get hit by a bus tomorrow. I’m totally good.”

For more information about Mindi Abair, visit mindiabair.com.