Prince tribute band brings ‘Purple Rain’ to Rifle’s Ute Theater
We are gathered here in Rifle, Colorado, to celebrate this thing called Prince.
On April 2, the Ute Theater and Events Center is slated to host Prince tribute band Marshall Charloff and the Purple Xperience.
Originating in Minneapolis, the five-piece ensemble brings all the classics that helped immortalize one of the most iconic performers to ever grace the Billboard charts.
“People bond over this artist,” said Charloff, a multi-instrumentalist and Xperience lead singer. “People are coming to our show to be amongst each other, to be amongst their own: the others that bleed purple.”
April 2’s headliner is actually split up into two performances.
Charloff first kicks off the night behind a piano and a microphone. The interactive set of storytelling and clap-alongs offers a euphonic emulation of Prince’s final tour before dying in 2016.
The full band then joins Charloff on stage to play hits from albums like “Purple Rain” and “1999” as well as some of Prince’s deeper cuts.
“This is a live experience. It’s never going to happen again,” Charloff said. “Whoever’s in that room is experiencing something no one else in the world is going to experience.”
Charloff joined Matt “Dr. Fink” Fink in starting the Purple Xperience in 2011.
Dr. Fink is, of course, the original keyboard player in Prince and the Revolution. He also jammed in the Purple Xperience for five years.
Charloff is also an original artist and ambassador of the Twin Cities music scene of the 1980s. This era of erotic, synthesized bass funk and brash punk rock was made famous by not just Prince but Morris Day and the Time, Sheila E, The Replacements, Soul Asylum and Husker Du.
Many would frequent legendary Minneapolis venue First Avenue.
Charloff would punctuate those funky days by signing on with local producing legend Pepe Willie. The Minneapolis muse was one of Prince’s earliest musical mentors.
“He would record me playing to Prince’s tracks,” Charloff said. “Pepe then released these albums to the world, called 94 East. If you’re a Prince collector, you own 94 East albums.”
“I appear on 94 East albums. I appear on recordings with Prince.”
Charloff has over the years grown into a celebrated producer and recording artist, according to the band’s website. He’s recorded for Grammy-award-winning Commodores and Rock-and-Roll Hall-of-Fame-inductee Little Anthony.
In late 2010, Charloff teamed up with Dr. Fink and other Minneapolis musicians to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That year’s bill included Cheap Trick. The performance marked the beginning of Marshall Charloff and the Purple Xperience.
“There was no paying your dues, there were no bar gigs,” Charloff said. “There was, ‘We have an original member of Prince and the Revolution and an all-star Minneapolis lineup.’”
Charloff’s solo show: The Purple Piano — The One-Man Tribute to Prince, garnered residency in Las Vegas. Charloff also performed as Prince in Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater in 2018.
“I’m a musician, so I get to just do this great music and channel his spirit and his energy,” Charloff said. “The rest of it is just me. It just happens to sound and look like Prince.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Purple Piano — The One-Man Tribute to Prince; Marshall Charloff and the Purple Xperience
Where: Ute Theater, 132 E. Fourth St., Rifle
When: Solo performance is 6 p.m.; full band is 9:30 p.m. April 2. Doors open at 5 p.m.
How much: $45-$55 for the the 6 p.m. show; $30-$65 for the 9:30 p.m. show. Tickets can be purchased at utetheater.com.
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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