Smooth Operators

They might be young, but the musicians of Mind Shrine know how to find a slick old-school groove, and a growing audience.

Anthony Rathbun
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Fifteen seconds. That’s how long it takes the breezy track “Goodbye” from the South Houston smooth-funk pop quartet Mind Shrine to elevate listeners. Recorded locally at SugarHill studios, the song kicks off with a drumbeat and 14 seconds of bubbly bass before frontwoman Krystina Wilson provides liftoff with Sade-like verve. “My intentions were not bad, but I pretended not to try,” Wilson croons, stretching syllables around the shimmering sound of guitars.


In addition to Wilson, three-year-old Mind Shrine’s members include Brian Gonzales and Bradley DeAnda, who alternate guitar and bass, while Richie Alejandro plays drums. The youthful band — all early 20s — plays an unplugged Canned Acoustica outdoor show at Discovery Green on Nov. 12. The concert, a fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank, is a warm-up for the planned December release of a new Mind Shrine EP and a potential tour. (For more on the Canned Acoustica series, see “Giving Back” on page 54.)

On the phone from his parents’ house, damaged by Hurricane Harvey, Alejandro shares the unconventional origin story of Mind Shrine. “Brian and I were playing on the same team in some random soccer league,” recalls Alejandro, whose older brother Giovanni fronts Houston’s own red-hot electro-Cumbia outfit Gio Chamba. “And he was always, like, ‘What kind of music do you like?’ We pretty much had the same taste, so we said, let’s get together and jam.” A shared love of offbeat latter-day pop icons such as Canadian singer Mac deMarco and chill Montreal indie rockers Tops provided a musical baseline for the pair.

Via Instagram they invited Wilson, a former high school choir mate of Alejandro’s, to join up. Her sultry vocals and captivating presence further anchored Mind Shrine. A natural fourth was DeAnda, another childhood friend, who Alejandro describes as “honestly, the most experienced musician in the band.”

Veteran promoter Mark C. Austin, who curates Canned Acoustica, handpicked them for Super Bowl Live in February. Mind Shrine — the name, in part, references the church where the band practices — followed with a successful string of gigs at SXSW after the big game, and headed into the studio last summer. “Everybody writes together, we all come up with lyrics,” says Alejandro of their creative process. “But we really want to keep everything old-school.”

For Mind Shrine, that means sticking with the four-on-the-floor bass-drums-guitar-singer setup that they currently enjoy, recording their songs — including “Goodbye” — on analog tapes rather than relying on digital technology, and perusing vintage shops for the ’60s fashions that have helped define the band’s punky, retro look.

It’s a formula that Austin thinks will serve the band well. “I believe they are part of the next new wave of great Houston music,” he says. “They’re super charismatic performers, and they have that natural thing you just can’t buy.”

Art+Culture

SOUTH FLORIDA-BASED Italian shoe line Concetto Limone will make its Texas debut at a cocktail reception at Valobra Master Jewelers (2150 Westheimer Rd.) on Thursday, April 29 from 5-7pm. The evening of "All Things Italian" will transport guests immediately to the coast of southern Italian as they sip on Italian wines, Aperol Spritzes, Negronis and Limoncellos while feasting on an assortment of Italian hors d'oeuvres from Houston's beloved Tony's. Invited guests will have the first glance in Texas on the Concetto Limone line and the opportunity to purchase unisex styles on Thursday evening and all day Friday at a trunk show at Valobra.

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Pastries at Cafe Leonelli

CAFE LEONELLI IS now open inside the MFAH's Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, the stunning new wing that first opened in November.

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Abbie Preston Edmonson gives a special presentation this weekend

DESPITE SOME APRIL showers, there's still plenty of fun to be had! From art-centric and Earth Day activities to family-friendly fests, check out a rundown of the weekend's best bets.

LEARN FROM AN ARTIST Tune in tonight for an hour-long talk by ceramicist and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft resident artist Abbie Preston Edmonson about her creative process. She'll give a virtual presentation about her work and a special demonstration in her studio space.

Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez (photo by Kimberly Park)

TAKE A VIRTUAL PAINTING LESSON OR COOKING CLASS Be inspired by the great state of Texas during a virtual painting lesson hosted by Honey Art Cafe on Friday night. For only $20, stream a two-hour virtual lesson and make a series of stylized mini paintings inspired by West Texas and Big Bend National Park. Honey Art Cafe also has supply kits available for purchase for beginners or artists low on supplies.

And if painting isn't quite your speed, see what you can cook up in the kitchen! Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez leads a "date night" cooking lesson for couples on Friday at 6:30pm. Hosted at the restaurant, the socially distanced demonstration, which costs $150, includes a reception, followed by an interactive demonstration and seated dinner.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY! Join the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center from 10am-4pm on Saturday for a fun- and information-filled day! Explore informative booths, nature hikes, fun displays in the Discovery Room, and Earth-friendly take-home activities. Or join Discovery Green on Sunday from 12-5pm, when the park will screen a series of short films about Houston's environment, host a panel about February's freeze, and showcase a live painting demo by local artists working on murals to decorate the park.

GO ON AN OUT-OF-THIS WORLD ADVENTURE Fifty-one years ago, the Apollo 13 crew splashed down safely back on Earth after their famously harrowing mission to the moon and back. Space Center Houston is celebrating that anniversary on Saturday, hosting two livestreamed panel discussions with current NASA experts as well as Apollo-era legends.And now through May 2, local NASA and Apollo 13 fans can check out the center's new spring exhibition, titled "Apollo: When We Went to the Moon," that looks at the legacy of the Apollo era through the lens of the engineers and astronauts who actually lived the experience.

FIND FUN AT THE INTERNATIONAL KIDS FEST Traders Village hosts Kids Fest on Sunday, with games, activities, interactive shows, live music, acrobats, magicians, clowns and more. Parking is $5, but the event itself is free, sure to keep the whole family entertained from 12-4pm.

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