Band plays on, but only for a good cause

The Booker Mini Band used to play a standing gig every Friday night at Aquarius, but now the nine-piece lineup can count on one hand their annual shows.

Still, those few appearances hold more significance than all of the others combined, band members say. 

The Booker Mini Band will take the stage June 12 in raising funds for their eponymous foundation. The nonprofit Booker Mini Foundation was started by band members in order to help families who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses.

In 2005, one of the band members had a relative that was diagnosed with cancer. The band decided on a one-off performance to help raise money for the band member.

"It was absolutely phenomenal," said Steve Book, responsible for the first part of the band's name. (Lee Powell was responsible for the "Mini.") "Then we determined we had the ability to help other families."


The Booker Mini Foundation has given away more than $50,000, with $2,500 going to each recipient.

Many of the band members have experienced the hardship of helping a family member in poor medical condition, Book said, so they are more than willing to help out a little.

"If I sit down and think about it, I think it's a wonderful thing, but here's the scoop: The one thing that's really neat is that we take turns taking the checks to people," Book said. "At least (the families) don't have to worry about finances for a month or two and that's one less thing for them to worry about."

Some of those who have been helped out have shown up at later concerts, or people who have passed away have left funds for the foundation to continue giving.

At the show, the music is mostly classic rock. But band members carry a long-range of different experience, saxophone player Mark Walsh said.

Of the nine-players, some carry bluegrass and country chops (the band includes a banjo player), while others favor more of an Allman Brothers classic rock vibe. Five of the band members rotate vocals, Walsh said, allowing for several different styles in the same show.

Many of the band members perform during the year in other bands or in other venues. But playing with Booker Mini is more of a special responsibility for the musicians.

"As a band, we've all been musicians for most our lives, and usually when you're performing you're getting paid. It's a regular gig," Walsh said. "When we do this one, it makes it more special, I think, because we know that everything we're doing is geared toward this one goal."

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