Justin Lansing of the Okee Dokee Brothers is taking his mom. Rick Kinchen of Mint Condition is taking his girlfriend and his son. These hometown music makers will represent Minnesota at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Kinchen bought new outfits for himself and his 20-year-old son. For his lady? “She’s looking at five or six things,” he said last week.
For Mint, it’s a fun business trip, costing the five-man band about $15,000 for airfare, hotel, limousine, wardrobe and tickets to the Grammy Awards, at $700 for each guest.
Nominees receive one free ticket and can purchase a second ticket if they wish. Nominees who are Recording Academy members get two free tickets (not all the Mint guys are members).
Lansing’s Okee Dokee Brothers bandmate, Joe Mailander, figures they’ll drop $3,000 to $4,000 for their three-day trip to Los Angeles, which includes a cameo performance with all the other kids music nominees Saturday morning. That meant that both Okees had to fly with a guitar and a banjo.
Lansing just got married last month in Nepal, and his wife is still there visiting her family. That’s why he’s taking his mom. Since Mailander’s wife just gave birth to their first child, son Hap, in January, he is taking his brother-in-law.
“First year, we went in a [rented] Toyota Camry,” recalled Mailander. “This year, we’ll probably Uber.”
After three decades and nine albums, Mint Condition is nominated for the first time — for best R&B album, for “Healing Season.”
“Saddle Up” is the third consecutive album by the Okee Dokee Brothers to merit a nomination; they won for best children’s album in 2013 for “Can You Canoe?”
“We go to have a good time and not get caught up in the winning or losing,” Mailander said.
Mint Condition singer/drummer Stokley Williams said the band is going to the Grammys for “the hardware.”
“We want to see everybody in the music community and to have this whole experience, all of us, as brothers,” he said in a recent conference call with the other Mint members. “The Grammy will be the cherry on top.”
The Okees like to go to the nominees party the night before the Grammys.
“They give you a medallion,” said Mailander, “and you eat some lobster and call it a night.”
They also made a helpful connection at a previous Grammys function, meeting members of the Denally Family, who ended up performing on “Saddle Up.”
As good as a Grammy
Mint Condition has the limo booked. They hope to do a little hobnobbing. Williams, who was nominated for two Grammys in 2011 for his work on a song with Kelly Price, hopes to discover the freebies he missed out on last time because his flight from France was late.
“I did the red carpet thing, but I missed the whole swag,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to the swag.”
“Networking is almost an aside this time,” interjected keyboardist Lawrence Waddell. “This one is really a long overdue celebration.”
Even though they want the trophy, Kinchen thinks Mint Condition has received the equivalent of Grammys-worthy recognition. “When Stevie Wonder invites you to his hotel room and plays you songs he wrote for you,” Kinchen said. “And you’re opening for Prince and Whitney Houston’s grabbing your pants leg from the audience and saying, ‘Sing it! Sing it!’ ”
There were more stories about Gladys Knight, Rick James and Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, among others.
Said Williams: “Meeting all these people, that’s the ultimate Grammy for me.”