Will Prince be coming home to play?

By Robin James
Contributing Writer
Hometown hero should support hometown arts

Will he or won’t he? That is still the question.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the exciting news of Prince’s upcoming Welcome 2 America tour, which he announced at the famed Apollo Theater. As reported, the December concerts kick off in New Jersey and New York.

Unfortunately no news was announced about hometown gigs in the making, although many local fans still hope for the best. It was announced days after the tour dates and locations that tickets would be made available to the public via the Apollo Theater.

According to news reports, Prince sold out Madison Square Garden in 30 minutes. Not surprised?

The announcement about Prince’s decision regarding the December dates in the New York area obviously struck a chord with one particular local MSR reader named Greg — so much so that he sent me an email. After some thought, I thought it might be beneficial to run the response and ponder, what if…?

Here it goes:

“I am really sad when I read articles like this, when The Capri Theatre on the North Side of MPLS is sitting and waiting for Prince [to] help: The same Capri Theatre that launched his career in 1979. There has been award-winning children’s programming for years like American Variety Theatre Company and other programs that help our children on the North Side.

“The Capri Theatre on the North Side is our [Apollo]; before the record companies came to MPLS, most of the up-and-coming MPLS artists had played or trained in the Capri. This is one of the only venues left standing where Prince played. [During] the Purple Rain days and after, the Capri Theatre had visitors from Europe wanting to take pictures [of] where Prince got his start.

“I do think it is a shame that with all of the artists that came out of MPLS, [they] don’t support the MPLS youth but arts programming in other areas get fundraisers to help them keep going. Here on the North Side, there is a tremendous amount of natural talent that needs support. I was in the mix when Prince and others were training for the big time, and I have been out on the road with the offshoots of the MPLS FUNK.

“The venues aren’t around like back in the days of [the] development [of the] MPLS sound, but we have artists, actors and the spoken-word art right here in MPLS that — if the Capri had support like Prince is giving the Apollo — it would be the place to be in MPLS.

“Since the ’80’s to the present, The Capri Theatre has raised a lot of youth and families with the theme of empowerment of self. It is sad that Prince/Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis and others don’t support hometown art development. For a lot of our youth on the North Side, art is the thing keeping them focused and building self-esteem for over 20 years; and I have been a witness at the Capri that arts is youth development.”

So will Prince perform in his hometown? Stay tuned as the news unfolds.

As for the arts, youth development and local support by former hometown stars, well, let’s just see where this takes us.

Not-to-be missed engagements

Next up: Christmas with the Aaron Neville Quintet featuring Charles Neville at the Dakota on November 30 — December 1. Also coming to the Dakota stage, two highly anticipated performances featuring the Ravi Coltrane Quartet and Mr. McCoy Tyner himself along with his quartet.

Now, this is the way to wrap up a wonderful year in jazz for 2010.

Holding down their annual Dakota December (25-27) residency, the Bad Plus performs, most likely music from their new CD, Never Stop (Emarcy Records).

Label mate Jane Monheit also has a new CD out entitled Home.

The holidays are upon us, so look out for a special James on Jazz Holiday Gift Guide coming up soon. Any suggestions? Feel free to send in your ideas. The more, the merrier.

Robin James welcomes reader responses to jamesonjazz@spokesman-recorder.com.