What do you do when you find out your club has been chosen to host an
intimate performance by the most mysterious member of rock's royalty? You
work that delicate mix of getting the word out without getting hopes up
according to Lisa Acchione, the promotions manager at Philadelphia's Egypt
nightclub. Her venue recently staged one of the "aftershows" being
performed by the Artist Formerly Known As Prince on his Jam of the Year
"Nobody knew if the Artist was going to come," Acchione said. "And no
one knew if he was going to perform. We were told a week in advance that
we were selected to be the official afterparty location. I think some of
the other clubs on this tour circuit were only given a day or two notice."
Last week the Artist embarked on his stripped down arena outing , which he
called "just a jam session with musicians," at the July 22 press conference in New York announcing the tour. To underscore his focus on the music, TAFKAP has in
some cities--including so far, New York and Philadelphia--followed his
scheduled concerts with club gigs for those in the know.
Kathy Jentz, organizer of the Washington Prince fan group LoveSexyDC, drove
two-and-a-half hours to see the Artist's July 26 concert and aftershow in
Philadelphia. "He was smiling the entire time," Jentz said of the
30-minute club gig. "Mostly he was playing with the band members more than
At one point in the impromptu set, the Artist began yelling
out the signs of the zodiac. "He was just joking, he was making up stuff,"
Jentz said. "He came out and the band was laying down a bass line and rhythm, which I
had never heard before. He sat at the keyboard for a minute and did some
piano noodling, like no particular tune.
"He would do that for like ten
seconds, then he'd get up and walk around, and then a little bit later he'd
do it again, try another piano thing. If that didn't work, he'd tell the
band to add a bass line here, and this there," Jentz continued. "After five or ten minutes of
that, it went into [James Brown's] 'Talkin' Loud & Sayin' Nothing.'"
The Jam of the Year tour is not Prince's first to feature aftershows for a
select group of hardcore followers. While the events are typically small
affairs publicized by fans in the know, Acchione said that 2,000 people
attended the show at Egypt.
As one might expect, the Artist's New York aftershow was a bit more
exclusive. Andy Schwartz, an Epic Records employee in New York, was one of
the lucky few who caught the Purple One's gig in the wee hours of July 24,
following a concert in Jones Beach. Although Schwartz had been enjoying a
show by the band Reef (who are signed to Epic) at the Wetlands, he beat it over to Tramps when he
got word of a hushed Prince performance from that club's manager.
"Nothing happened until 2 a.m.," recalled Schwartz. "There were less than
300 people allowed into the club. A large number of people who had waited
on line for at least 90 minutes, sometimes more, were sent away."
When His Royal Badness appeared, he had a bass in hand and Roots drummer
?uestlove (plus two members of his own New Power Generation) in
tow. "For this first part of the show, he sat in a chair off at stage
right," Schwartz said. "You couldn't really see him too well."
After ripping through Sign O' the Times' "Ballad of Dorothy Parker"
and a few other numbers, the Artist brought out singer Marva King as well
as sax player Pierre Andre. The extended band then laid into 20 more
minutes of soul filled classics, including the Staple Singers' "I'll Take
You There," James Brown's "I Got That Feelin'" and the Isley Brothers'
"The Artist played some keyboard and conducted the band," Schwartz said.
"He was giving hand signals to the musicians. And even to the audience,
encouraging people to sing along. It's a very tight band. They
could stop on a dime and go into another song."
If TAFKAP's aftershows provide fans the chance to see their favorite
performer up close, they also offer the reclusive Artist the opportunity to
take a peek at his devoted followers. The Egypt nightclub set aside space
for His Purple Highness to watch the goings on.
"We had a private room prepared in the event that he did come, because he's
into candles and incense," Acchione said. "It was glass enclosed, so he
could see everybody out in the club. And they could see him through the
shadows. He actually was looking out, and waving. He's a very shy man."