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Nuno Mindelis :: ANGELS & CLOWNS

Posted: November 28, 2013

Brazilian blues/roots guitarist Nuno Mindelis’ Shining Stone Records label debut CD is Angels & Clowns. It was produced by Duke Robillard and features backing by the Duke Robillard Band, with a special guest vocal performance by label-mate Sunny Crownover. The rest of the album session players include Bruce Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass and Mark Teixeira on drums.

The “baker’s dozen” 13 tracks on Angels & Clowns were recorded at Lakewest Recording and mixed by John Paul Gauthier. They showcase a highly creative guitarist who infuses his blues music with a number of exotic influences, including the roots music of his Brazilian homeland on the all-original songs, which include two dazzling instrumentals.   

“Nuno Mindelis is an old soul and that is why the blues live in him,” says recording engineer Gauthier about the sessions. “We recorded Nuno with an ‘old school’ approach in mind using analog tape for basic tracks, vintage mics and tube gear to capture the essence of his soulful approach to the blues. Nuno is also very much a contemporary musician and combining the newest technology with a vintage approach contributed to make his recording the timeless piece of music you will hear on this CD.” 

While this is Nuno’s first release for a U.S. label, he’s recorded numerous albums in his native Brazil. His stature in South America as a musician has reached the level of stardom, and his reputation is now worldwide. A lifelong poet, Nuno sings in English on the new CD, but can also sing in Portuguese, his first language. As he began writing material for the new album, he approached fellow songwriters Stephen Barry, Mike Bowden and John Williamson to collaborate on several songs with him. Barry’s words for the “Pretty Happy Guy” track on the new CD turned out to be biographical for Nuno: it’s a song that professes his unrelenting love affair with blues.

Born in Angola, Nuno Mindelis was building and playing guitars by the time he was nine years old. His family lost everything in the Angolan Civil War and he was forced to flee his home at age 17, settling in Brazil and continuing to pursue his musical dreams.

“After all these years of hard work and dreams, I think my songwriting and guitar playing have matured in a way that lets me talk directly to people from my heart,” Nuno explains. “I feel like I overcame an obstacle in making this album,” he continues. “These songs were more challenging to write because I wanted to reach for something that is within the world of blues, yet could reach beyond it to speak to as many people as possible. My goal was to do that with good songs and good melodies, and Duke Robillard —who is a pillar, a giant of blues guitar — also helped me create the best guitar and vocal performances I’ve ever recorded.” This proud creation is Angels & Clown.

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His earliest recordings in Brazil began to receive critical praise in his homeland press, and after appearing at a major blues festival in Sao Paolo that also featured Robert Cray, Ronnie Earl, and Bo Diddley, his cachet really began to take off. Guitar Player magazine profiled him in an issue and compared Nuno to Jimmy Page. That same publication continued to heap praise on his work in their “30th Anniversary Guitar Player Magazine Competition,” where Nuno was named “Best Blues Guitarist.”

Nuno subsequently recorded two albums featuring Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rhythm section of Tommy Shannon (bass) and Chris Layton (drums): Texas Bound, which became a top seller in Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg; and Blues on the Outside, which brought him further worldwide recognition. In 2001, he was named by critics as the best blues guitar player at the Montreal Jazz Festival that year, his first of two appearances at the prestigious event. He followed with several more albums, including Outros Nunos, especially dedicated to Brazil and recorded entirely in Portuguese, treating listeners to a fusion of blues with rap, hip hop and samba music. His last CD, Free Blues, released in 2010, generated a rave review in the UK’s Blues Matters, calling it “some of the best blues guitar playing around.”    

Accolades continue to pile up for Nuno Mindelis. Rolling Stone magazine’s Brazilian edition included him in their top 30 list of electric guitarist icons in Brazil.

Nuno Mindelis continues to play regularly throughout Europe and the Americas.