Mike Mineo & the Mini Orchestra's Debut at the Funky Buddha, Boca Raton

When the sound of the nine piece band began to rise like a swell behind Mike Mineo, his face lit up like a surfer committing to a ride. And as the band played through the opening song, "Waiting," Mineo's voice cut through, moved with, explored the new form like sharp skegs in the face of a wave.

"Okay, we're warming up!" he said before kicking into the second number, the funky "Believe," in which he sang the "Just believe!" chorus with as much feeling as ever. Another artistic dream of his was coming to fruition.

See also
- Mike Mineo Needs Help Deciding What Song to Sing When Auditioning for American Idol
- Local Artist Mike Mineo in Studio

As folks may know from witnessing Mineo perform, simply exist, or from reading any of the many New Times articles about the musician, he is fiercely creative. When playing a song, he is tuning in, listening for the moment to leap and dance in sound, bringing the music to a new, heightened energetic level. In the larger span of his career, he is doing the same -- not relying on any formulaic mode except for "create," and shedding any labels as quickly as they are imposed upon him -- by himself or others -- not for the sake of doing so, but simply by continuing to work as he does.

This, his trusty M.O., helped produce a thrilling and triumphant vision of reality on the stage at the Funky Buddha in Boca on Friday night. A full room of people were glowing and grooving along with the joyous singer-songwriter-composer.

The ensemble consisted of Mineo's core band and a four piece string section -- two violins, a cello, and a harp -- led by Mineo's brilliant new collaborator, the multi-instrumentalist veteran Scott Marischen, who was playing the harp for most of the show.

The first time that the ensemble played together was only four days prior to this performance. And work on charting the music and cultivating the vision only began a month or so before that when Mineo and Marischen were struck by inspiration while sharing drinks.

The performance was tinged with the exciting charm of a first run through, and grew stronger and more confident as the night went on. The setlist featured selections from Mineo's two official full lengths -- 2009's Eccentricity and 2011's Beach Season -- as well as unreleased songs and some new tunes destined for his upcoming third full length, Big Big Star, due our this year.

In addition to the music, exciting and beautiful throughout, the night featured the sort of spontaneity that one would hope for at a Mike Mineo show as well, including an off-the cuff hoedown which had Mineo square dancing with audience members and an extended jam in which Mineo picked up mallets and rocked the drums along with his drummer and then the harp along with Marischen, who then took the mallets from Mineo and beat the harp less tentatively. It got pretty wild.

The night ended with three "one more songs." The momentum was rolling, and the greatest difficulty Mineo showed all night was in the act of leaving the stage.

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Travis Newbill