Monday, April 25, 2016

Memories of Prince, Weekend Picks: WRIR Barndance Bonanza, New Mastersounds, Laura Stevenson, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Citizen Cope, Sleepwalkers, Ricky Skaggs

Have to start with memories of Prince. I know you've read a million appreciations over the last few days but I have to get mine down. Prince came along for me just when I was entering high school. I had a pop/disco phase when I first discovered pop music in elementary, discovered classic rock in middle school and in 1982, I was letting pop music back into my daily playlist thanks to MTV and a new FM Top 40 station in Philly.

When I heard "Little Red Corvette" on MTV, it incorporated pop and rock and more, as I was feeling the funk too, though I may not have known it yet. I bought "1999" and played the first side. Well, there's the hits, and amazing hits they are, but there are still 3 sides left. As those next 3 sides, unfolded my musical mind and teenage hormones were expanded. "Let's Pretend We're Married" starts with a funky keyboard riff and some weird shaker percussion sounds as the foundation but then...whoa, did he just say to that woman what I think he said? Can you say that on a record? Did my mom hear that? Does that work if I say it to girl? (I would later find out, Only Prince can get away with saying that to a girl and it actually working. Luckily, the girl forgave me.)

Side 3 gets even weirder with "Automatic" and "Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)". Sounds put together in ways I had never heard, screams of passion and pain, that guitar solo after the woman moans "I'm going to have to torture you now". Side 4's "Lady Cab Driver" with anonymous sex in the back of a cab. "All The Critics Love U in New York"...this was music from a different planet! And then he brings us all in for a safe and sexy landing with "International Lover".

My mind was blown. This was was a world where anything was possible, where everything could be pulled in, assimilated and released in new and amazing ways. And, as a 13 year old, I realized this was a world where there was sex, sex I'd been thinking about and it could actually happen, and you could be sexy and playful and strong and loving and dirty all at the same time.

From that point on, I was a huge Prince fan. I bought everything because I had to hear everything this brilliant artist put out. I got the B-sides and especially the 12" singles. The 12" singles weren't just remixes, they were Prince & the Revolution playing the songs longer, working the songs main groove and finding new ones, extending guitar solos and piano breaks. For someone who would end up liking jam bands so much, Prince helped start me on that course.

Prince's world view also informed me. He imagined a world where everyone could be themselves and follow their muse. It was a world where race didn't matter ("White, Black, Puerto Rican, everybody's just a freakin'"). It was a world where if you believed in love and good, you would find others like yourself.
The girl on the seesaw is laughing
4 love is the color
This place imparts (Paisley Park)
Admission is easy, just say U
Believe and come 2 this
Place in your heart
Paisley Park is in your heart

Prince was one of those artists who I felt like I grew up with. His great six album run, one of the greatest in rock history ("1999", "Purple Rain", "Around the World in a Day", "Parade", "Sign O' the Times", "Black Album" (I had the bootleg, of course)), corresponded with my formative years in high school and college. I bought all those albums after "1999" on the first day of release and I would sit and listen to them for hours that day, deciphering every word, reveling in the new sounds he would come up with, dancing to the new groove.

I've continued buying all of his albums right up to the new one I got three weeks ago ("HITnRUN Phase 2"). One of the things that made me saddest about his death was that we aren't going to get to grow old together now. I thought I would get to download his latest album to my iBrain when I was 80 and get to hear his ruminations on old age and sex in the nursing home. But it was not to be.

So I'll listen to the music over the next few weeks. I'll think about listening to "Around the World in a Day" the first day I got it while I watched a thunderstorm roll in outside my bedroom window. I'll think about the times I got to see him live and how he rose from underneath the stage as "Let's Go Crazy" started the first time I saw him on the "Purple Rain" tour. I'll remember dancing around my bedroom in high school and I'll dance around the room now. I'll remember making love to, and sometimes just passionately fu**ing, women while his music played and I'll remember their faces, their bodies, the wind and the rain. I'll think about his dreams and mine and wonder if they'll come true. And I'll say thanks for his guidance and his groove. We'll have to take it from here.

Onto the weekend picks.

I hope you all gave to WRIR-FM over the fund drive the last couple weeks. The fund drives closes on Tuesday with a the Barn Dance Bonanza at The Camel from 5 PM - 9 PM. Jackass Flats & the Rock and Roll Jubilee (who will do some Merle Haggard, Cramps, Ray Condo, Faron Young, Richie Valens, surf twang and more) will perform live and the show will be simulcast on WRIR. If you already made a donation during the fund drive, you are on the guest list. If you didn't, it's a donation of $5 (or more, if you're feelin' it) at the door. This will be a family friendly event so you can bring kids. Here's a little taste of Jackass Flats.

After the WRIR party, you can head down to The Broadberry to see jazz/pop/funk/soul band The New Mastersounds with Moon Hooch opening. Doors open at 8, show starts at 9. Tix are $18 advance, $20 day of show. The New Mastersounds have a new album, "The Nashville Session", out. Don't be surprised if DJ Williams sits in at some point as they recently did a show with the band DJ plays with, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. Here's a track from "The Nashville Sessions", "In the Middle":

Pop/folk singer/songwriter Laura Stevenson is at Strange Matter Thursday night. This is an early show with doors at 6 PM. Crying & Chris Farren open. Tix are $12 advance, $14 day of show. The show Thursday may find her with a full band but here she is performing "Happier Etc." solo:

Bluegrass singer/songwriter Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder are at The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell Thursday. Tix range from $30 - $80. Doors open at 6, show starts around 7 and there is no opener. Here's some old Ricky doing "Country Boy":

Soulful blues/Americana band Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are headlining a great double bill with Major & the Monbacks on Thursday at The Broadberry. Doors open at 8, show starts at 9. If you like Grace Potter (before the pop), Bonnie Raitt or Tedeschi/Trucks Band, you might want to catch Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds. Tix are $12 advance, $15 day of show. They just posted a NPR Tiny Desk Concert today:

Citizen Cope bring his world music influenced jams to The National Saturday for "an intimate solo acoustic listening performance". This is a seated show and tix run from $23 to $38. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8 and there is no opener listed. Here he is playing for Aspen radio station KSPN a couple weeks ago:

Rockin' RVA band Sleepwalkers rock at The Broadberry Saturday night. Tix are $$10 advance, $12 at the door. Doors open at 8, show starts at 9 with The Mad Extras and Gold Light open. Sleepwalkers are another RVA band making it good. This is a pre-tour, hometown show before they head out on the road opening for The Lumineers.

That'll do it. I'll see you at the WRIR Party for sure! I'll leave you with one more Prince tune, one of my many favorites. The tune originally appeared on the Graffiti Bridge album. Here's Prince performing with a band that includes Larry Graham (Sly & the Family Stone) on bass, Maceo Parker (James Brown) on sax, Candy Dulfer on sax and some incendiary guitar playing from Prince. The video quality isn't great but the sound is not bad. Long live the Prince.

Tony Jordan