Jerry Mitnick

Minique Flambeau


Ok, some may be wondering how the moniker Minique Flambeau came to be. It started in Norway, mid to late 70's.  While on tour with the Rodney C. Riley Band, we occasionally did some recording projects with, well, let's just say I didn't want my real name on some of those albums.  My roommate said to me one day. "you're Minique Flambeau".......I used it....it stuck......end of story, and the beginning of this one.........

Excerpt below from soon to be published "Music in the Walls; Anecdotes from Tinker st. Cafe" by Jerry Mitnick, 2002

     Brownsville, Brooklyn ny August 1948, somewhere between WW 11 and Korea.......after hiroshima, before fallout shelters, but all during the atomic age, the Red scare, McCarthy, 13 inch black and white television screens,(took a year for the tubes to warm up)... no cell phones, no remote control, no computers.the Dark Ages.....   Shit , how did we live back then?! Well, we suffered,....... yes, we suffered......

     By the time i was 5, the Dodgers were getting ready to bail out of town to the left coast....I can still remember the starting team..........Hodges, Reese, Robinson, The Duke, Amoros, Jr. G, Newcombe, Campy.....my earliest memories on the Bums was going to a game with my pal and his Dad.....sitting in the stands watchin the big green field. It was always black and white on my tiny tv screen......It looked so big and wondrous in person.........the smell of hotdogs and peanuts.......there was this old guy sittin right behind us, chomping down on the aforementioned items for 7 innings, washing it all down with beer after beer. (Rheingold, i think)...at the 7th inning stretch we all got up to sing "Take me out to the Ballgame"....This old guy blows chow all over my shoulder and back..........my first baseball game had became a blown save..........and from that day on, whenever i'm at any big event sitting in the stands, i'm constantly looking over my shoulder. Ohhh, the scars we carry.......

     Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and the boys had given birth to Rock and roll , but Pat Boone was makin the money off of the honky version of "Tutti Frutti". Elvis was the prince, not yet the King, "Rock Around the Clock" was playin in the theaters for 35 cents. A generation was finding their own music.....The first 45 i bought for myself was "I Sold my Heart to the Junkman", Patti Labelle and the Bluebells.  My sister got a stereo hi-fi for her Sweet 16th birthday, a big motorola unit with one big speaker and turntable in it with another smaller speaker box to go to the other side of the room for “stereo effect". My favorite 33 rpm at that time was Louis Prima and Keely Smith with Sam Butera and the Witnesses, "The Wildest Show at Tahoe".  Louis Prima was a pisser. The best lounge band in history, bar none! Sam Butera was a maniac on sax...It was like Dean Martin on speed...I loved that shit!

     I got a little twenty dollar battery-run portable 3 inch reel to reel for my 12th birthday, to which my friends and I would sing some doo wop into and have it play back in it's own little garbled out of speed drag, But It was still a kick to make our own sounds. We had a little echo chamber type sound in the bathroom.  We'd  all crowd in there to record,  play it back, listen, erase, record again, play it back, again and again until the cheap tape wore thin and scratchy from overuse. Then we'd take it to the schoolyard, where we'd harmonize with and against the other groups in the hood. It was all for the music, comaraderie, and the girls, although the order of that might not be right. I usually sang lead, but also loved to be part of the harmonies. It was a big kick, heavenly blissful, to hear three or four voices kick into sync.

    In my mid-late teens, a lot of my high school buddies were starting to play in bands, and some of them did fairly well.....Harvey Brown got a gig with the Left Banke, who did "Walk away Renee", Bruce Massis was playing at the Cafe Bizarre in Greenwich Village. I left for Florida at 18 to go to Miami Dade Jr college, for an education (I took up time and space) and to escape the Vietnam war draft. Started singing with my first band, "The Blues Messengers", playing frat parties and small clubs. We did a lot of Stones, Rascals, and danceable R&B. I played Tambourine and a little blues harp.  I had a ZimGar nylon string guitar that my sister bought me for my birthday when I was 15....I managed, at last, to get to the point of changing from E to A without dropping too many beats, and found that those 2 chords could be the foundation to thousands of tunes. I played "Down by the River" by Neil Young so many times in a row, that years later, i promised myself that i would never play it again....ever!

     It was around that time that I saw Wilson Pickett, with Jamie Jamison on bass. Jamie was layin it down so cool, with a smile on his face that went ear to ear....I wanted that....I hadda do that......... I knew I was gonna be a bass player............. I came back home to the Apple, and started to woodshed with a bass I got from a friend of mine. It was an old cherry red Hagstrom, with the sweetest neck, and a lot of tone buttons and switches. I practiced from a book called How to Play Rock & Roll Bass and got pointers from the lead guitarist in the band I was singing with. I was finally ready to take that next step.

     Around '67, and the Psychedelic sound was just taking hold. The Rascals were past their peak but still going strong. Curtis Knight was the opening act, but had cancelled. An unknown band called the "Jimi Hendrix Experience" filled in as the opener. Jimi took the stage, and played some shit I had never heard before. He humped the sounds out of his axe, even setting fire to the guitar with lighter fluid at the end of his set. But the sounds he created! I was completely sold! I wound up playing in  power trios for years later on.

     I auditioned for a band called Oedipus Rex, who had a summer gig locked up at the Granite Hotel in upstate New York. Passing my first audition, I took the gig, and was on my way. We played that whole summer.....the teen rock band......a learning experience.........but I was playing, getting paid for it, and learning how to be more comfortable on stage.....it got to the point that I was more at home on the stage than off...and of course, I happily played “Down by the River” when anyone would ask for  Neil Young.