A musical citizen of the world...born in the former Soviet Union and raised in America, Lenny's musical and cultural roots are far-flung. His versatility as a musician and songwriter is a nexus of classic rock and roll, jazz, gypsy folk, and the American heartland sound. "The Lost and Found" are a potent ensemble of talented musicians, singers and songwriters in their own right, along with frequent special guests.
To say that Lenny's songwriting is 'classic' is an understatement. The musical world is saturated with derivatives, electronic mashups, and the diluted, cliche, and bone-thin ideas. Listeners yearn for something more, where words have weight, and fresh melodies fall from the sky like meteors. Dig in deeper and you will find that at his core, Lenny Mink is a the kind of songwriter who takes lyrics and melody to the highest form of the art.
Lenny Mink is a nomadic poet, a clear voice along the daisy chain of "American" songwriters of the past. His cultural roots and early and frequent exposure to many, many different musical genres and styles permeate his approach to writing, playing, and producing. He works with numerous other artists as a producer, and to date has produced over 30 albums, including his own records and those for other artists.
Leonid Minkovich was born in Minsk, USSR under the thumb of the slowly crumbling Soviet system. Lenny's grandfather Semyon was also a talented musician and singer, who knew hundreds upon hundreds of songs in 5 different languages, and could sing 3 octaves. His father began at the Belarus Conservatory at age 11. His mother Mila, a linguist and teacher, and his father Vladimir, an exceptionally gifted and renowned woodwind master, finally had enough of the suffocating communist ideology and applied for political asylum in Israel.
After much difficulty, they were granted exit from the Soviet Union as refugees, ready to leave the country forever. Both of his parents immediately lost their jobs. The Soviet authorities were extremely hard on anyone leaving the country for good, and even tried confiscating his dad's instruments. His father dismantled each instrument in pieces, clarinets, flute, saxophones...and spread the pieces throughout the luggage making it impossible to collect them. He said "if you want my saxophone, help yourself ! ". All the instruments survived and most are still in the family. Mink, then 3 years old, boarded the train with his parents and the family began their journey to a new life in Eilat, Israel, at the mouth of the Red Sea.
The goal was to eventually make the passage to the United States and rejoin close family that had already emigrated. Young Lenny, or "Uri" (as was his Hebrew name) attended a small preschool separated from the Red Sea by two sand dunes and a one lane road alongside the beach. He spent much on the beach and at the occasional camel races organized by the nomadic Bediuns.
After a year in the Mediterranean desert climate they pushed forward and spent a short stint in Frankfurt, Germany. Political realities and pressures at the time blocked efforts at securing official 'papers' from the German government, and the family was forced to live in hiding and work under the table, as it were, for fear of deportation. It sounds like a scene from the 1940's war era, but this was 1977!
Young Lenny's father frequently toured with various ensembles and orchestras throughout Europe during that time, and his mother worked odd jobs. He was often in the care of two young Russian men, a frequent show of community solidarity among the emigre community at the time ; neighbors helping neighbors. They had also emigrated from Russia to Germany, illegally. Neither of the 20-something guys spoke German well, and the economic situation was bleak for the close knit and small and reclusive immigrant community.
Without work and facing very difficult circumstances, the two young Russian guys often pilfered food and small goods from the local outdoor market, while they "babysat" Lenny during their daily adventures. One particular misty grey day when they were able to steal two whole chickens from a farmer at the market, hiding them under a large black overcoat in Lenny's stroller. He was just over 4 years old at the time.
After some initial difficulties, the family finally received permission to emigrate to America, where they settled in St. Louis, Missouri in January 1978 and began a new life near other close family that had already emigrated one year before.
His father, Vladimir, practiced full time for many years and continued to play professionally in the newly adopted country...from classical concertos, to large brass ensembles, small jazz combos, Top 40 and R&B bands, Lenny was often at his side at rehearsals, shows, and even occasionally on tour.
At many lively family parties, Lenny's father would play traditional Russian, Klezmer, and American songs while his Aunt Dora sang. He would often sit at the piano alongside his dad and plink along with one finger or two whenever possible. After some early frustrating efforts at piano, and saxophone, Lenny was disheartened with playing an instrument and became an avid listener and student of musical styles and the great classic American musical evolutions, from Classic Rock of the 60's / 70's, to Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Jim Croce and many folk artists, to early and traditional blues, Jimi Hendrix, Beatles, eclectic artists such as Leon Redbone and Michael Hedges, all kinds of 80's pop music, and everything in between.
Endlessly curious about every style and flavor of musical expression, he ventured far and wide as a listener, with his ears wide open and a deep pedigree as a member of a long-musical family.
Mink father's band at the time rehearsed at their home. One day when Mink was 19 years old, he stumbled upon an electric guitar in the basement after his dad's band rehearsal. He had found his voice. Almost immediately, he began practicing, writing, and study