Mindi Abair headlines Berks Jazz Fest holiday concert Saturday at RACC

·4 min read

Nov. 28—Mindi Abair can't wait for Christmas, so you don't have to either.

The touring saxophonist, who says Reading feels like home, will bring her I Can't Wait for Christmas Tour to the Miller Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Saturday for the annual Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest Holiday Show.

"The show is one of those shows that will absolutely get you into the holiday spirit," Abair said. "Things have been a little odd over the past few years, but I really feel like this show centers around bringing you back to a place of Christmas spirit and peace and love."

Abair will be spreading that Christmas cheer with special guests Vincent Ingala, Adam Hawley and Lindsey Webster.

"The talent on this stage is just immense," Abair said. "Vincent is just an incredible saxophonist, guitarist, vocalist and drummer. Adam is a guitarist and a producer and way overqualified to be here and Lindsey Webster is just transcendent."

Webster is the newest member to join the onstage Christmas party and Abair is grateful to add her talent to the mix.

"I would liken her to Mariah Carey or Celine Dion," Abair said. "I heard her and I decided that Lindsey should sing the stuff that makes people cry and feel. I should just sing the things I sing."

Despite the self-deprecating humor, Abair has made a very successful career both playing and singing for decades, and her Christmas tour takes the audience on that journey. She began spending her pre-Christmas time touring with Peter White in 2003, but this Christmas tour is her own invention and will feature her own jazz and blues musical roots.

You'll hear holiday music, but also the music that jettisoned her career and earned her a couple of Grammy nominations.

"There's a section where we do the original music that made us famous," Abair said of songs like "Lucy's," "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You" and "Flirt."

Abair said she'll also be doing something a little different for this show.

During the pandemic, Abair discovered that she enjoyed the intimacy of a stripped down show presented on her front porch and livestreamed to fans. For this tour she'll be doing a version of that on stage.

"It is very unplugged," she said. "It's broken down and just really feels intimate. We did Facebook shows from my porch and never did I think it could be powerful, but it really was something that brought me closer to the song."

She said the porch shows were very bare bones, allowing her saxophone to do the talking.

There will also be a local choir joining her on stage for a few songs, but she won't say more than that.

"I won't let the cat out of the bag," she said. "But I think that everyone knows when a choir is on the stage it just goes to a different level. I am completely excited."

She is also excited to simply be performing back in Reading, a place she considers integral to her development as an artist.

Trained at the Berklee School of Music and enjoying a career that has included touring with Aerosmith and having Steve Perry (of Journey) sit in on a few songs on her newest album, "Forever," she said Reading continues to be a touchstone.

"Crazy things happen in Reading," she said. "I feel like it's home base. I've been playing there since 1993 and it's always been a part of my career. The people there and the surrounding area care about the arts and have respect for (them.) It's just a special place."

Abair is always open to new adventures, too.

She and her husband, Eric Guerra, accompany fans on jazz, food and wine travel excusions and have a growing wine membership company, Wine & Jazz (www.wineandjazz.com). Wines are only available through membership, but you can sample their offerings prior to Saturday night's show.

"I like to learn and I want to grow," Abair said. "Every tour I want to make it better. I am always looking to push the boundaries. That's the best way to stay inspired."

If you go

Event: Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest Holiday Show, Mindi Abair's I Can't Wait for Christmas, with special guests Vincent Ingala, Adam Hawley and Lindsey Webster

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Miller Center for the Arts at Reading Area Community College

Tickets: $59, or $79 for VIP, which includes wine tasting

Web: millercenter.racc.edu