Maybe you remember 2016 — or maybe you’re desperately trying to block it like the rest of us. In January, we tried to remain brave in the face of David Bowie’s and Alan Rickman’s deaths. In March, we tried to remain calm amidst Zika panic. Later, we even laughed in the face of a Republican nominee who claimed he’d build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants. We still thought things might look up.
And then Prince died.
Twelve months and one soggy Cheeto president later and we’re still learning to cope. But instead of impending war and alternative facts, Prince left us a legacy of fearless self-exploration and excellent music. Which is why Veronica Potes, founder of Soundbite, wants to commemorate him.
This is not Soundbite’s first tribute night. On the anniversary of Bowie’s death, Potes curated a similar event. Before Radiohead played at the American Airlines Arena, she brought artists together to perform their songs, as well.
Bands for the Prince One Night Alone Bash were given the chance to choose their own songs to cover and were expected to incorporate their unique sounds.
It proved not to be an easy task. Stu Sauce, guitarist for funk band Xotic Yeyo, was surprised after bandmate Cody Orange picked “Kiss” because he thought it would be easy to learn on guitar.
“I was totally thrown by the first chord — which is one of my favorite chords, E7+9,” Stu says. “Singing and playing these songs at the same time has been the most challenging part of learning and getting [them] down. His bigger solos and word choices in his lyrics have aided the challenge — this guy was a badass Mamma Jamma.”
“The biggest challenge is capturing the spirit of someone like Prince,” says Austen Erblat, drummer for the Citadel. “For an artist so unique in his own right, we felt it vital to exude his vibe and attitude to really celebrate and honor his contributions.”
But trying to bring Prince back from the dead via covers is kind of beside the point. For Potes, the main goal is to make connections between established artists and emerging bands. “We’re using the love of these artists to expose new music,” she explains.
For the musicians themselves, the opportunity to work with new music is not only inspiring, but part of a larger musical mission. For Cody Orange, the tribute went back further than the last two months the band has had to prepare.
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“Prince's music has always been a cornerstone in my music career. One of the first movies I ever watched with my dad and brother was Purple Rain at age 10. Rehearsals for the Bash allowed me to channel some of that excitement from when I was first introduced to his music.”
“Most of the artists that we've played tributes for are icons of the music world,” says 17-year-old Max Brenner, one half of the brother-sister duo heading Anastasia Max. “People who made what we love doing the impossible, people who completely ignored what ‘should’ be done. Having to learn songs in so many different genres has really helped us grow as musicians. We're really grateful to Soundbite Magazine for including us in these tributes.”
“In the case of Prince, I always recognized his contributions to music and the music industry,” says Erblat, “but beyond this, there are influences we both share — James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Curtis Mayfield, and Stevie Wonder, among so many others. I feel those connections span time and space and can create a nexus, almost a cosmic relationship, where music and love are shared and passed through generations.” The Prince One Night Alone Bash may not be the turning-back-of-time we wish it could be, but it’s definitely a salve for our losses, and a chance to look ahead with our heads a little higher.
SoundBite Presents: Prince One Night Alone Bash
7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, April 22, at Lincoln's Beard Brewing Company, 7360 SW 41st St., Miami. Visit the Facebook event page.