(Upcoming Release) What’s In A Name? Members of fDeluxe Announce First Album in 26 Years Together- “Gaslight” to Release in September

Photo credit: Steve Parke

There is a lot that can be said about Prince, and at this stage in his life and career he has firmly established himself as one of the Rock and Pop greats and the sellout tour that he is currently undertaking is a statement made about his career to date– every night is a different lineup of songs from his extensive and prolific career and he is inviting guests to perform with him from his past and current notable artists. In this post-Elvis, post-James Brown, post-Michael Jackson time, we are lucky to have His Purple Majesty walking among us.

One thing is certain, though, when Prince chooses to surround himself with other musicians, they are usually some of the best in the business– The Revolution, New Power Generation, The Time, Sheila E., –the list goes on. One band of musicians that would have probably continued to exist as a footnote in the Wikipedia article that is Prince’s life was The Family. And, it appears that Prince would have preferred it stay that way.

The story about The Family is kind of a notorious one amongst the Prince faithful. Following the massive success of the “Purple Rain” movie and the extensive two years of subsequent touring, took its toll on The Time– who was in the movie and was supporting band on the tour– and ultimately caused key members to quit– namely Morris Day, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Prince collected the remaining members of the Time proposing a reboot including his then-fiancee Susannah Melvoin, twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin– starting the trend of his svengali-like tendencies of producing albums of his romantic interests. In addition to Susannah, Prince proposed Paul “St. Paul” Peterson as the other lead vocalist and added Eric Leeds on Sax and keyboards.

The resulting self-titled album in 1985 was comprised mostly of Prince compositions and was performed completely by him except for the vocals and sax parts. The band was short-lived, however as St. Paul left the band, forcing the end of the group, but by this time Prince had moved on to other projects including Sheila E.’s Romance 1600 and the next two albums of Prince and the Revolution as well as the feature film “Under The Cherry Moon.” Prince was not happy with Peterson’s departure, and it seems like he might still hold a bit of a grudge 23 years later.

The story of this band would have stopped here if it wasn’t for a reunion of one of ?uestlove’s favorite Paisley Park-era bands as part of one of The Roots Pre-Grammy parties in 2007. (Athough, I think the genesis for this reunion might have really started with the band Edith Funker who ?uestlove was part of with Susannah and Wendy) It was around this time that Paul Peterson announced the reunion of the members of The Family and that they were working on a new record!

This was over three years ago! A project like this one takes a lot of time and resources and is a good example about how the Internet can facilitate. With members split geographically between California and Minnesota and having careers and lives outside of this project they slowly recorded the album supported in some cases by frequent flier and car rental miles donated by fans eager to see this project get off the ground. Periodically the band would come out of hiding streaming internet video of recording sessions and taking fans questions and posting the occasional raw unmastered track for fans to hear the progress.

The Family 2.0 Live in Minneapolis

The first real fruits of the reunion of the band came in the form of a live performance at The Cabooze in Minneapolis in June of 2009 as part of the “Prince Family Reunion.” The reunited band calling themselves “The Family 2.0” of St. Paul, Susannah,  Jellybean and Eric Leeds plus members of Mint Condition put on a short-but-amazing set which included songs from the first record as well as newly-written songs. The crowd was excited and the band put on a high-energy set.

Since that show the band has struggled with a certain artist who has been blocking the group’s use of the name “The Family” as well as any PR that even implies their past relationship with him. The first change the band made was their name– they became “fDELUXE” last year. As awkward as that name might be, it really serves to point out that while the core of the band acknowledges a past together in a previous band, this new incarnation is much more than vocals added to tracks recorded by one man.

This week, band manager Neil Richards of Square One Entertainment announced via the fDeluxe Facebook page that the long-time-coming reunion album is going to be titled Gaslight after one of the album tracks and not The Family as they had originally planned, and will come out September 12th.

Ringing in at 11 tracks, Gaslight has the expected two-lead vocalists of Susannah and St. Paul along with the core members of Jellybean and Eric Leeds, but they also bring in an extended “family”-  if you will- of  Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, guitarist extraordinaire and husband of Susannah, Doyle Bramhall II, JP DeLaire, Oliver Leiber co-writing and performing…  as well as members of The Hornheads, Ricky Peterson, Charlie Drayton and more helping out during the recording. fDELUXE, indeed!

The band has announced a record-release show in Minneapolis as well on September 16th at the Loring Theater. Ticket information to come as well as other tour dates!

In the meantime, you should sign up for their e-mail list to stay on top of things fDELUXE, and get a free download of “Over the Canyon.” CLICK HERE to visit the band’s website and to sign up.

Click Here for the fDELUXE Facebook Page and become a FAN!

Click Here to follow fDELUXE on Twitter

Click Here for the fDELUXE Website

Here are the pictures I shot at the June 2009 show of the band:


California Girl Karyn Paige is Feeling Minnesota With The KP EP (Review)

Karyn Paige isn’t the only California Gurl who is turning a golden state disposition into sunny pop this summer, but her debut EP The KP EP is a solid challenger for my soundtrack.

I posted about Karyn’s debut single “Want To” back in July which kicks off her 5-song EP (self released on August 31st and available from her website). I said that “Want To” recalls Prince as well as Jam and Lewis.

Paige, assisted by Jazz Mafia compatriots Joe Bagale and Matt Berkeley, has continued to wear her affinity for the Minneapolis Sound. The electro stew of instruments includes buzzy synths, funky, percussive distorted guitars and frantic 808 beats on the uptempo tracks like “I Still Want to Believe” is clearly influenced by the work done at Paisley Park and Flyte Tyme. “Stay Away Tonight” is stripped down to a rattling drum loop, piano and chorus and takes advantage of Karyn’s vocal prowess during its soaring chorus– in an earlier time she’d fit in with the stable of strong female vocalists that His Purpleness liked to surround himself with.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to let you believe that the EP is out standing in a purple rain, however.

On “Feel Alright, Be Alright” slows things down a bit with gorgeous chiming synths, snapping clave and blue-eyed backing vocal harmonies that remind me of the best moments of 80’s synth pop greats like ABC or Spandau Ballet. When Karyn sings “Everything will be all right, feel alright… no frustration…” we are already smiling and nodding along. The quick and soft flow of Karyn’s rap that recalls Bahamadia is a great touch to this song and shows skills we could stand to hear more of.

The EP closer “Big Top” takes a snap-step-and-spin Motown rhythm and adds a pumping Talking Book electric piano to Karyn’s soaring circus warning. “Look out! There’s a Big Top up ahead.. Remember everything the ringleader said… you know you want to run away with the circus… don’t look back on yesterday…”

You can download this little bit of sunshine from Karyn Paige’s website for $4.95.

Click Here to listen to “Want To” by Karyn Paige from The KP EP as well as her upcoming full length  Hola Mademoiselle.

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s website and sign up for her mailing list

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s Facebook Fanpage

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s MySpace Page

Upcoming Show: The Prince Family Reunion at Cabooze in MPLS June 5th, 2009

3rd Annual Prince Family Reunion Poster

During his heyday in the 80’s as the reigning Purple King of Minneapolis, Prince built an astonishing music empire. His creative output could not be contained it seemed and the king surrounded himself with a funky court of many talented artists and musicians who either were backing him in his many bands over the years, or would benefit from his seemingly-endless supply of songs in their bands and projects.

Most of these musicians would move on to non-Prince projects whether it was due to Prince’s short-attention for a given project or frustration over Prince’s princely ways.

Last year on the eve of Prince’s 50th birthday, a collection of his former sidemen and friends gathered at the legendarily cramped Cabooze bar in the West Bank area of Minneapolis to celebrate with an all-star jam. While a cryptic “Jamie Starr” was listed on the marquee, the man of honor didn’t make an appearance, the show was a greatest hits of his catalog as well as the associated acts like The Time and The Family. This is apparently the third annual Prince Family Reunion, and this year we see that “Alexander Nevermind” is listed on the bill!

This year’s show will take place Friday June 5th and tickets are $20, $25 at the door. There is also a very limited number of $50 V.I.P. passes which will gain the holder a meet-and-greet as well as access to the V.I.P. area. Doors are at 8:30PM and the show should start at 9:30. From the Cabooze calendar:

Prince Family Reunion featuring (Click on the links for more information):
St. Paul Peterson (The Time, The Family, The Truth)
Susannah Melvoin (The Revolution, The Family)
Michael Bland (New Power Generation, Soul Asylum)
Kirk Johnson (New Power Generation, The Truth)
Dez Dickerson
(The Revolution)
Ta Mara/Margie Cox (Prince, Ta Mara & The Seen)
Dr. Fink
(The Revolution)
Bobby Z
(The Revolution)
Stokley (Mint Condition)
Jellybean Johnson
(The Time, The Family)
Chance Howard (Prince, The Time, The Truth)
Mike Scott (New Power Generation, Justin Timberlake)
Eric Leeds (Prince, New Power GenerationThe Revolution, Madhouse, The Truth)
O’Dell (Mint Condition, The Truth)
Kip Blackshire
(New Power Generation)
G Sharp (Jimmy Vaughn, Dr. Mambo’s Combo)
Tyka Nelson
(Prince’s sister)
Donnie LaMarca (The Truth, Bobby Caldwell)
Brian Gallagher
(Prince, Greazy Meal)
Jerry Hubbard (The Time, Jesse Johnson Revue, Ta Mara & The Seen, The Truth)
Pepe Willie (Prince, 94 East)
Alexander Nevermind (ummm, right)
& a very special MAZERATI Reunion featuring all the original members!

In addition to that list from the press release, Paul “St. Paul” Peterson posted on the Family 2.0 Facebook page confirmed that he would be at the show along with Susannah Melvoin. Since Jellybean and Eric Leeds will be there this likely means that we will be treated to a “Family” reunion! It would be cool if they could coax Wendy and Lisa to make the trip west…

Based on the list of players above it sort of seems like this event would be difficult to pull off considering how some members wouldn’t have worked together in any of Prince’s projects or otherwise. The key to this seems to be the band listed as “The Truth” which shows up on a number of the members’ lists of bands.

The Truth was an all-star lineup of former Prince-related sidemen who performed regularly in the Twin Cities in 2006 and 2007, and released a CD of one of their performances in 2008. The band consisted of “St. Paul” Peterson on bass, vocals, guitar and keyboards, Jellybean Johnson on guitars, O’Dell on guitar and vocals, Jerry Hubbard on bass, guitar, keyboards and vocals, Chance Howard on bass guitar, bass synth, and vocals, Kirk Johnson on drums and vocals, Eric Leeds, on saxophone, keyboards and vocals, and Donnie LaMarca on keyboards.

The Truth was managed by Jeff Taube of Mid-America Talent, which is also putting this show on, so it all ties neatly together. The press release also mentions other “Very Special Suprise Guests” so it will be interesting to see who else shows up. Aside from Alexander Nevermind himself, Wendy & Lisa would be cool, and maybe Morris Day?

As with any project like this one, you end up with some folks who were notable in Prince’s camp (St. Paul, Susannah, Jellybean, Eric Leeds, Bobby Z., Dr. Fink, Dez) and you end up with some sort of questionable relations– Ta Mara was really more notable as Jessie Johnson’s protege, however, Prince did sign her to Paisley Park and recorded an album, but never released it– hiding in a vault somewhere in Chanhassen, I suppose. Mint Condition was a band discovered by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of The Time fame, but since they are managed by Mid-America Talent and are part of The Truth, they get to be here.  Tyka Nelson is Prince’s sister, and not really part of his direct musical career. G-Sharp toured with Prince during the Diamonds and Pearls World Tour– his band backed Carmen Electra who was the opening act.

Pepe Willie is an interesting part of Prince’s history (and a VERY IMPORTANT ONE according to his website), but unless this group was going to play 94 East or Grand Central songs (both early Prince Bands), I don’t think his addition to the lineup is essential.

The Mazarati reunion is pretty interesting. The story of Mazarati is similar to the Margie Cox story in that it is one of a Prince relation casualty. Mazarati was founded in part by Brown Mark of The Revolution. After some local buzz surrounding a demo of “Stroke” that was played at First Avenue by a DJ, Prince took an interest in the band and signed them to Paisley Park. Prince wrote their biggest single “100 MPH,” but the most noted story surrounds what would become one of Prince’s biggest singles “Kiss.” Prince gave them “Kiss” as a rough demo. After spending the day rebuilding the song from the ground up, Prince took the song back and added his own vocals and some production touches. He didn’t even bother to remove the background vocals that were done by Mazarati! So, maybe Mazarati will do “Kiss” at the show? You can hear their demo of “Kiss” at their MySpace page.

It turns out that I have a family thing to go to in the Twin Cities that day, so my wife and I are talking about going to this. I’ll provide a show review and pictures here!

Click Here to visit the Facebook Event for the Prince Family Reunion

Click Here to read the  interview I did with Wendy & Lisa about their new album!