Celebrating Prince with The Revolution: Our Destiny Is to Fall in Love (2/2)

This is part 2 of a 2-part series on the Revolution’s 2017  San Francisco shows. Read part 1 here.

U ask me if I love U, it’s automatic

“He would condition you like that. The more you rehearse the more you don’t think about it. The less you think about it and then the more fun you have. And that was the key to the Revolution. We knew every cue and we would hit it – just bam bam – we knew right where to hit. We didn’t think about it.” – BrownMark, in a Backspin interview about Purple Rain

The Revolution’s muscle memory for Prince’s music was on full display. Those grueling years of jam sessions, rehearsals and performances had etched every beat into their DNA.

For those of us who studied music, or who play it for a living, we’re awed by how intricate Prince’s creations are.

“For me, his music is just full of trap doors, so you don’t need him to be fooled. You’re always gonna have to try to concentrate when you’re playing Prince music. So that part’s still there.” – Bobby Z.

Still, I was hard pressed to see them falling through those trap doors. I saw Bobby Z bliss out in the middle of America, as his drumsticks pounded their reliable beat. Dr. Fink gifted us his ceremonial clap in the middle of Erotic City. Lisa’s effortless jazz solo glided above a funky D.M.S.R. back beat, reminding us how Prince would describe her:

“Lisa is like my sister. She’ll play what the average person won’t. She’ll press two notes with one finger so the chord is a lot larger, things like that. She’s more abstract. She’s into Joni Mitchell too.”

Stokley Williams – Minnesota native and lead singer of the band Mint Condition – joined the Revolution on several up-tempo songs, blending with the slipstream of joy that rippled through the night. He even sneaked in a few “Wooden Leg” dance moves that Prince had popularized. My inner dancer squealed its approval.

And in the front line, Wendy and BrownMark kept the funk going all night, egging each other on through their thumping solos, goading us to egg them on – higher, stronger, purer.

“Go Wendy!” “Go Mark!” “Do you want some bass in your face? Say yeah!”

Their grateful smiles spoke volumes. And on the second night, at the end of Take Me With U, Wendy threw a heartfelt “Beautiful,” our way.

 

Paisley Park is in your heart

“This song that he wrote for you guys – it’s the whole concept and idea and…it’s his gift for you guys about his life. It’s a place to go to, and it’s a state of mind he created with his music…sing it…so it’s a smoke signal that he hears in every city we perform.” – Wendy, before the Revolution performed Paisley Park

“Prince created a lot of memories. I think just the fact that he was a proud papa of all the stuff he created…he just loved to have musicians and people that he found be talented and wonderful. And nurtured you, he pushed you. He really pushed you but, you know, you got there. Nobody was more proud than he was.” – Bobby Z

photo from Wendy & Lisa’s Facebook page

Prince’s work ethic and dedication to excellence have stayed with the Revolution. 33 years after they exploded on to the global stage with Purple Rain, each band member is seasoned, accomplished and possibly more in tune with their craft than ever.

Wendy and Lisa went on to release 5 full-length albums, score dozens of movies and TV shows and win an Emmy for their musical contributions to Nurse Jackie.

Dr. Fink built his own studio facility and is part of the Purple Xperience, a Prince tribute band based in Minneapolis.

Bobby Z lends his music production prowess to artists like Boy George, turned his 2010 heart attack into a mission to raise public awareness of heart attack warning signs, and hosts a radio show in Minneapolis every Sunday.

BrownMark continues to produce and play. He hosts The BrownMark Show: Where Music Speaks podcast, offering us an inside look at the entertainment business from musicians, entertainers, and producers in the know.

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
– from”Paisley Park”, off Prince and the Revolution’s album “Around The World In A Day”

The Revolution have found their Paisley Park, flowing into their destiny by mastering their instrument. There was a soothing precision in their execution, a knowing flair in their performance, and a peaceful synergy that kept both shows tight and toned.

Just As Long As We’re Together

The celebration didn’t end with the waning chords of Baby I’m A Star on the second night.

Because. Aftershow.

There’d be a DJ spinning more Prince tracks, a tribute band directed by a Prince band alum, and the allure of some members of the Revolution showing up to jam.

It was one more Prince tradition – his aftershows were legendary – and one more rung up the ladder between grief and joy.

Members of the Bay Area’s most active Prince fan club, Purple Funk SF, planted themselves front and center beneath the aftershow stage, just as they had at the Revolution’s shows.

DJ Pam The Funkstress spun, swaggered and slinked through her set.

Tribute band the Purple Ones, founded by Prince fan Morty Okin, and directed by Levi Seacer Jr. (Prince’s former Musical Director and co-founder of Prince’s New Power Generation band), played hard and sang strong. They stayed true to the “controlled chaos” that existed in Prince’s world which allowed for extreme creativity, punching the early morning air with their purple magic.

Just before BrownMark and Dr. Fink joined The Purple Ones for an impromptu jam (another Prince tradition), Levi said “I never got to hear them (the Revolution) live when Prince was here. I never got to hear the music that brought me in. And so for me to be at the concert the other night – this is where it came from. So it was kinda like meeting a cousin that you never met. You’re like – you’re my cousin? It was that moment. And it felt like Prince was in the room. And I want to say one more thing – we all one family. Don’t get that twisted. That’s why we’re doing this tonight. It’s all one Purple Family.”

Purple Ones trombonist displays his skillz

Dr. Fink jams with the band

Levi Seacer and BrownMark strum their stuff

Our Destiny

Oh, look, it’s written in the sky above
Our destiny is to fall in love
Don’t fight it ’cause it’s stronger than us
Our destiny is to fall in love
Are we in love?
– from “Our Destiny”, off the 2017 album “Purple Rain Deluxe Edition”

We end at the beginning.

What does it mean to flow into our destiny? And how can legends guide us there?

At the aftershow, Levi and BrownMark revealed Prince’s parting advice for them:

“In this world, there’s a lot of strange stuff going on in the world. Prince told me to always concentrate on what you want to do. Prince taught me never to leave the studio until the song was 70 or 80% there. He would always work until his idea turned into something. So he always told me, Levi don’t worry about everything, you gotta maintain your focus. If you don’t have focus, you’re not going anywhere.” – Levi

“The last thing he told, he said ‘Blaze your trails. Blaze your own trail.’ And what he meant by that is – don’t let anything get in your way. Whatever your dream is – and that goes for every one of you out there – whatever your dream is, if it’s in here (pointing to his heart) – don’t let nothing stop you. Don’t let somebody else’s idea sidetrack you. Don’t get narrow-minded, monkey see monkey do. You gotta open it up, you gotta be who you are from here (your heart), and don’t be afraid of that. And, I’ve never been afraid to just do what I do. Some of y’all don’t like it. I don’t play music to sell records. I play music ‘cos I like it.” – BrownMark

What is our destiny with you Prince? Are we in love?

Yes we are.

Your fans are in love with all the colors of your work. Many have the body tattoos to prove it, including Becki – my new Purple Family friend.

The Revolution is in love with what you had them experience, learn and grow into.

The Purple Ones, and dozens if not hundreds of tribute bands near and far, are in love with and will celebrate your genius.

As for you and me, Prince, neither time nor space nor my near-zero-knowledge of your world on 4/21/16 could keep us from connecting. We are in love through our work ethic, through the mystical force of creativity, through the pursuit of peace on earth, and through a desire to liberate the world with lightheartedness and joy.

Welcome 2 the dawn. Our destiny flows.

Afterword: My Girl and Sexy Chocolate

One day, in an ethereal reverie, I wondered what Prince might say to Wendy Melvoin from the heavens.

Soon, the faint sounds of My Girl floated through the ether. I leaned in, straining my ears and heart for more. It felt like his term of endearment for her, an ode to her tempering force for his whirling dervish on-stage energy, an acknowledgment of her shining contribution to his work.

“Wendy makes me seem all right in the eyes of people watching. She keeps a smile on her face. When I sneer, she smiles. It’s not premeditated, she just does it. It’s a good contrast.”

Now that I’ve seen the Revolution play, that acknowledgment goes deeper. Prince is grateful for what Wendy and the rest of the band have done since his passing, for their tender seances of joy, and for their desire to remain the custodians of his multicultural utopia.

Each time the Revolution takes the stage, Prince frolics between the plumes of purple smoke, his spirit reveling in the splendor of what he created, his soul ever grateful for what this pioneering, nay, Revolutionary, band is still giving him and the world.

“I think if Prince saw all the monuments of the world lit up in purple I think even he would be feeling that that accomplished something he set out to do,” said Bobby.

“He would say sexy chocolate.” Mark quipped, with an inside-joke chuckle.

(featured image courtesy of Becki’s upper arm.)

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About the author

Maya Mathias

Maya Mathias is a peaceful leadership advocate, spiritual biographer and soul guide, with a life and career spanning 3 continents and 5 inspired self-reinventions. She is a global leadership veteran, bringing her unique blend of East & West to her leadership development and innovation management practice. Maya’s life began with a lower-middle class upbringing in Asia, surrounded by poultry & vegetable farms and the ‘simple life’. She doesn’t forget her humble roots, and her body of work seeks to bring more equality, justice and personal purpose in troubling times. Learn more about Maya here.

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