Dave Chappelle performed 10 standup shows in Minneapolis over the last couple of days, but last night he decided to host a more intimate affair. Dubbed Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint (as a throwback to the juke joints of the early 20th century), the party took place at the 500-capacity Aria venue downtown and featured a band playing lively covers of Nirvana, Radiohead, A Tribe Called Quest, and the Fugees. Most importantly, however, it saw the comedian pay special tribute to Prince on the eve of his birthday.
As The Current’s Leah Garaas reports, the live music was provided by French harmonica player Frederic Yonnet and Band with No Name, a group that’s played with the likes of Stevie Wonder as well as features local musicians that have performed alongside The High Priest of Pop. Following a DJ set of Prince classics, they kicked off the festivities sometime after 10:00 p.m. with an “improvised version” of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It”. Later, they did the Radiohead classic “Creep” and the Fugees’ rendition of “Killing Me Softly”.
It was during their cover of Nirvana staple “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that Chappelle seemed to really kick into high gear, however. “As the chorus kicked in, Chappelle jumped into the crowd, moshed, then sang along on stage,” Garaas recalls. Afterward, 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!”
Once the clock struck midnight, though, the Juke Joint took on a much more sober tone. “I can’t see my friend again, but I can see his spirit in this city,” Chappelle reflected. “It’s now the birthday of Minneapolis’ favorite son.”
By that point, the lights in the room had turned purple and Band with No Name were ushering in the new day — “Prince Day” and what would have been the legendary artist’s 58th birthday — with their take on “Purple Rain”.
Chappelle’s Juke Joint didn’t stop there. Reports say the party — like so many of The Purple One’s local shindigs — went on until the wee hours. It’s not hard to imagine that, had Prince still been with us, he would’ve been living it up right alongside Chappelle and his friends.