- Brett Turner Contributing Writer
The Summer Arts Festival forecast for Saturday, July 8, calls for purple rain.
Tribute bands don’t get much more authentic than The Purple Xperience, the Prince and The Revolution tribute featuring a five-man band from the Purple One’s hometown of Minneapolis.
The show, presented by the Springfield Arts Council, will be at 8 p.m. at the Turner Pavilion in Veteran’s Park. Admission is free.
“Prince was the greatest live performer to walk the planet,” said Marshall Charloff, who portrays Prince. “It’s not a cookie cutter. We bring an authenticity and have a respectful delivery. It’s a concert experience.”
The group’s hometown roots are just the start of what makes the band special. Charloff started The Purple Xperience in 2011 with Doctor Fink, The Revolution’s former keyboard player.
He was destined to end up there many years before.
Drawn to the funky Minneapolis sound, Charloff got in a band that was based blocks from where Prince grew up. The drummer kept going on about being Prince’s cousin, which the rest of the group groaned and mostly dismissed until one day he offered to take his doubting buddy to meet him.
“I just thought, yeah sure, I’ll go hang out with Prince,” Charloff said.
It was 1985, and they ended up in a warehouse where Prince and The Revolution were rehearsing for the “Around the World in a Day” album.
“He was nice, we chatted and he invited us to hang out and we stayed in touch,” Charloff said.
Ironically, Charloff was soon discovered by Pepe Willie, who got Prince’s career started and became Charloff’s mentor.
Charloff would later do session work on the “94 East” recordings, which also featured Prince.
Since Prince’s untimely death last year, The Purple Xperience has helped in the healing of his loss.
“There’s some intimate moments in the show, some sing-alongs. It’s about people who grew up with this music and bringing in the next generation. It’s a party,” said Charloff.
He also stresses it’s not a strict imitation, and he gets to express himself as a musician and is passionate about doing so. He also loves jazz and performs Prince music with several symphony orchestras across the country, as well.
Having left countless unreleased recordings behind, there will be plenty more Prince music to discover, and The Purple Xperience will be there to capture those and the best-loved tunes.
“We are not just a tribute, we are a tribute with purpose, a celebration,” said Charloff. “We’re a small part of keeping Prince alive. He ain’t going anywhere.”