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Getting the band back together: Mindframe ready to rock again in support of veterans' organization

Mountaineer - 12/3/2021

Dec. 1—Stop me if you've heard this one before — an attorney, architect, real estate agent, warehouse assistant and music producer walk into a bar. Only this time, there's no punch line.

Instead, these guys are about to embark upon the business of rock 'n' roll — business made all the more serious because they'll be rocking out not just for a good time, but also for a good cause.

The gentlemen in question are members of long-running Haywood County-based band Mindframe. They'll be walking into Elevated Mountain Distillery in Maggie Valley for a benefit show on behalf of veterans' support group Warrior Clan.

The Saturday, Dec. 4, event will represent the 15th annual Christmas benefit show put on by Mindframe.

"We have had a great conduit helping us get involved with the veteran community," said bassist John Truitt, owner of Grove Park Fine Homes when he's not moonlighting in Mindframe's rhythm section.

"Everyone in the band either had a parent in the military or kids that served in combat duty. It has always been very important to us to give back to those who gave so much."

Truitt credits Clark Williams, retired Marine and ex-owner of Frog Level Brewing, for helping make connections between the band and veterans' organizations. Frog Level was home to the last benefit in December 2019; COVID-19 derailed plans for the 2020 edition.

Unopposed to my worlds of craft beer enthusiast and classic rock fan colliding, your friendly neighborhood columnist was in attendance at that gig. While the majority of the performance consisted of covers of hard 'n' heavy hits, I was surprised to recognize some Mindframe originals.

After learning "the band was getting back together" for another show this year, I sorted through my CD collection to unearth Mindframe's self-titled 1995 debut and climbed into the attic to dust off a 1996 column about the band.

I stand by comments praising its "healthy portion of power chords, guitar riffs and muscular vocals" and "original material that slides neatly into a mix of hard rock covers."

Mindframe traces its origin back to circa 1983, when a group of Tuscola High School buddies decided to enter an air band contest and blew the crowd away. (I swear, I covered that event as a cub reporter at this newspaper, although I couldn't find the newsclip).

"The guys did very well in that show, and took it very seriously," said current guitarist and Asheville attorney Mark Pinkston. "They got it in their heads they wanted to start a real band, not just an air band, but first they had to learn how to play instruments."

So they did, though Pinkston admits to being less-than-impressed with their efforts to play Night Ranger's "Don't Tell Me You Love Me." Fast forward a few years — and numerous jam sessions — and Mindframe served as opening act for Night Ranger. Over the years, the group has shared the stage with Survivor and Atlanta Rhythm Section, along with playing hundreds of venues across the Southeast.

In addition to Truitt and Pinkston, members include vocalist Tommy Potts, warehouse manager at Haywood Vocational Opportunities; drummer Rick Boyd, a real estate broker; and Joe Pinkston, a music producer — and 30-year-old son of guitarist Mark Pinkston and nephew of founding guitarist/keyboardist David Pinkston.

After growing up listening to music played by his father and uncle, Joe went on to be in high school and college bands that played current songs.

"The reason I started playing guitar was because I liked the '70s and '80s stuff my dad's band was playing, but my bands weren't playing that stuff," he said. "When I joined his band, I got to play some of my favorite songs that I learned back when I was younger."

For the older band members, why continue, with all the rigors of the "real world" — work, bills, kids, life?

"We do this now, not because we have to, but because we want to," Mark Pinkston said. "We're able to have the best of both worlds, have careers, live in Western North Carolina and be able to play the music we love, to make it fun for us and, hopefully, for those who come out to hear us."

Truitt agreed it can be challenging. "We usually get together once a week, but then we have periods we do not practice for months," he said. "Some gigs we are dialed in and ready to go and some gigs it is a crap shoot. It is much harder today to get together than back in the day, but in my opinion it is much more fun."

At the end of the day, fun is the most important element, said drummer Boyd.

"We have had a lot of fun memories over the years. It would be hard to pick one moment that was most memorable. From playing with some great national acts and also local musicians, to little dive bars in the middle of nowhere, we have always found something to laugh about," he said.

Come next Saturday at about 7:30 p.m., they'll once again be having fun and sharing some old-school rock 'n' roll for a good cause.

Bill Studenc, who began his career in journalism and communications at The Mountaineer in 1983, retired in January 2021 as chief communications officer at Western Carolina University. He now writes about life in the mountains of Western North Carolina.


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