09 June 2016

Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint’ Was Party For The Ages

Who said Minnesotans don’t party on a Monday night?

Dave Chappelle celebrated Prince’s birthday in royal fashion June 6 at Aria with a star-studded party and concert. The comedian and close friend to Prince hosted the event that lasted into the early morning hours of June 7 – Prince’s actual birthday – billed as “Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint.” As the clock struck midnight Chappelle stopped the music to say happy birthday to Prince, who would have celebrated his 58th birthday if not for his untimely passing on April 21.

Advertised entertainment was harmonica player extraordinaire Frederic Yonnet and the Band with No Name and notable hip-hop DJ, D-Nice, but the select crowd of about 300 was treated to a bonus when “sons of Prince,” Mint Condition took to the stage for a surprise performance. The performance – a mix of Mint classics and Prince covers – was closed out with an impromptu jam session to Prince’s “She’s Always in My Hair” that included cameos by Brother Ali, Jamecia Bennett, Yonnet, members of the NPG Horns and MPLS’ David Billingsley on organ. That jam session led to another with Yonnet and the band soloing out to a funky, bluesy version of “Otis.” Chappelle also joined in on vocals.

While the surprise of the night was Mint Condition, the shock of the night was Yonnet. Calling the musician who has played with Prince, Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran and more just a harmonica player is thoroughly inadequate. Between the lips of Yonnet the harmonica, fueled by his lungs, was a full brass and rhythm section encapsulated in about three inches of metal.

Chappelle’s Monday night party that lasted until nearly 3 a.m. brought out an eclectic crowd that included such notables as Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds, the branch’s communications chair, Raeisha Williams, Black Lives Matter’s Mica Grimm, Paris Bennett, David Glen (MPLS, Hustle Rose) Pete Rhodes and Kimberly Rhodes of Black Music America/“Urban Perspectives,” Jeff Taube of Mid-America Talent and more.

Comedian and “Chappelle Show” veteran Donnell Rawlings provided added entertainment when he performed his song, “Lotion,” a parody of O.T. Genasis’ “CoCo.” Most know Rawlings for the character Ashy Larry from Chappelle’s hit television series.

Monday night’s party was the culmination of a week of quickly announced events starring Chappelle, including performances at First Avenue and the State Theatre.

Gov. Mark Dayton declared June 7 Prince Day in Minnesota.

Article reprinted from and written by Harry Colbert, Jr., managing editor

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