We already from the iconic skits on his eponymous show that Dave Chappelle is a massive Prince fan. But the comedian proved his love in a whole new way on Monday night at the 500-capacity Aria club in Minneapolis when he hosted “Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint” in advance of what would have been Prince’s 58th birthday on Tuesday.
After a DJ set of Prince hits, the show kicked off with the eight-piece Band with No Name (who’ve played with Stevie Wonder and Prince) and French harmonica player Frederic Yonnet playing A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It” according to the Local Current Blog’s Lean Garaas.
Writing about the show (which fans were not allowed to document on their phones), Garaas said Chappelle entered after 10 p.m. and reminisced about the 10 gigs he’d done over the previous week at First Ave. and the State Theatre, before explaining that the Juke Joint concept was a throwback to Prohibition-era times when “black people couldn’t have fun.”
Garass noted that, “before the clock struck midnight, Yonnet and the band masterfully performed a handful of familiar tunes, the most surprising being a cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ As the chorus kicked in, Chappelle jumped into the crowd, moshed, then sang along on stage. He stumbled his way through Beethoven’s melancholy ‘Moonlight Sonata’ and welcomed Donnell Rawlings of Chappelle’s Show to screech his audio logo, “I’m Rick James, bi-yatch!”
As the clock struck midnight, the band played the hook to “Purple Rain” and Chappelle got a bit serious. “I can’t see my friend again, but I can see his spirit in this city,” Chappelle said. “It’s now the birthday of Minneapolis’ favorite son.”
The night also included Prince pal Mint Condition performing a medley of his songs and Yonnet leading The Band With No Name through covers of Radiohead’s “Creep” and the Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly,” with local vocalist Ashley Commodore and New Power Generation bassist Sonny T., who then led the band through War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” with Chappelle on backing vocals