Today, April 21, legendary songwriter, singer, guitarist and music icon Prince died at his home in Minnesota. The Purple One was only 57. Millions of fans worldwide are in mourning, stunned by the latest loss in a 2016 that has seen too many entertainers go too soon.
In a year that began with the death of David Bowie, a year that has also taken monumental musicians like Lemmy, Merle Haggard and A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg as well as stars of stage and screen like Alan Rickman and Garry Shandling, Prince’s untimely passing confirms what I already believed to be true. 2016 is the Rapture.
We’ve long been led to believe that the Rapture, the biblical end-times event where good souls depart for the Heavens while the wicked remain behind, would be an instantaneous one. Yet, evidence is starting to pile up that it’s a gradual ascension, and now the forces of good can include Prince in their swirling legions.
Of course, that’s not an actual or literal theory of mine, it’s just that this year has simply seen too many great and inspiring figures leave us forever. Truly, this is what it sounds like when doves cry.
Bottlerock, the weekend-long Napa music festival that began with a bang last year but nearly fizzled when it wound up owing almost $10 million to everyone from food vendors to port-o-potty providers, has announced that it will return this year under new ownership. Today, it was revealed that not only do the new producers have support from city officials, they’re ahead of the curve as far as submitting permits for the event at the Napa Valley Expo. “I appreciate the fact that Latitude 38 has brought in a team that has us far ahead of planning at this point last year,” says Napa Police Captain Steve Potter in a press release.
This is revealing for two reasons. First, it shows the faith city officials have in the new producers. The city was shorted over $100,000 the first time, and the Expo Center itself was owed over $300,000. Now, with new producers, everyone is all smiles. “The Latitude 38 team has the right business experience, skill sets and vision to make BottleRock Napa Valley thrive in 2014,” says Napa mayor Jill Techel in a statement. “BottleRock puts Napa on the map in a new and good way and as mayor, I look forward to Napa hosting it again.” Wow, that’s almost second base, right there. Keep the lights on, you two.
Bands will be announced in mid-March, say the event producers, but judging from last year’s lineup, which included the Black Keys, Kings of Leon, the Shins, Zac Brown Band, Jane’s Addiction, the Flaming Lips, Primus, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the Black Crowes and many others, it will be a big deal. At a pre-concert screening of his movie, “Sound City” last year at the Uptown Theater in Napa, Dave Grohl said it didn’t work out logistically that year, but if Bottlerock happened in 2014 the Foo Fighters would play the festival. That would be pretty darned cool. And while we’re making suggestions, at least one music fan is crossing his fingers for Prince to be top the list of headliners this year, too.
This year’s festival takes place May 30–June 1 at the Napa Valley Expo.
1. Prince at DNA Lounge
2. Bjork at Craneway Pavilion
3. Chance the Rapper at the Regency Ballroom
4. Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar at the Oakland Arena
5. Yo-Yo Ma at the Green Music Center
6. Drake at the Oakland Arena
7. Paul McCartney at Outside Lands
8. Iceage at the Rickshaw Stop
9. Purity Ring at the Independent
10. Grand Opening at the SFJAZZ Center
11. King Krule at the Independent
12. Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite at BottleRock
13. Jason Moran and Live Skateboarding at SFJAZZ Center
14. Autre Ne Veut at the Independent
15. Majical Cloudz at the Last Record Store
16. The Crux Tent Revival Band at the Rivertown Revival
17. Haim at Treasure Island Festival
18. Lil B at the Regency Ballroom
19. Peter Brotzmann at the Center for New Music
20. Jackson Browne at BottleRock
21. Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z at Candlestick Park
22. Jessie Ware at the Rickshaw Stop
23. Willie Nelson at Outside Lands
24. J. Cole at Oakland Arena
25. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at Civic Auditorium
26. Superchunk at the Fillmore
27. Brown Bags at the Arlene Francis Center
28. Charli XCX at Slim’s
29. Courtney Love at the Phoenix Theater
30. Wayne Shorter at the Hollywood Bowl
Click through for reviews, photos, and relevant errata.
“You know how many hits I got? We could be here all night.”
Ears ringing. Laying on the couch. Can’t sleep.
“Sign ‘o’ the Times” riff stuck in head on endless repeat.
Still thinking about the silhouette of his hair against the blue lights.
THWACK! at the screen door. What the…?
Oh, right. It’s the next day’s newspaper.
A steamrolled body, an obliterated brain, both riding out an adrenaline buzz: this is how I finally went to bed last night after Prince’s final show of a two-night, four-show stand at the small, 800-capacity DNA Lounge in San Francisco.
Was it worth it, you ask? Tickets were $275, the wait in line was two hours, about 50 line-jumpers cut in front of us drinking and smoking weed, and as a half-naked guy rollerskated up and down Harrison St., the doors finally opened. Inside, there was a strict no-photo policy during the show, and it was impossible to move—people packed in shoulder-to-shoulder—while idling out another hour-long wait.
Prince finally took the stage at 11:40pm. . . . and Lord, it was fucking incredible.
Extended Play: Esperanza Spalding on Justin Bieber, Jazz Purism, Drone Strikes and Playing With Prince
Esperanza Spalding plays this Friday, Aug. 24, at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa. I caught up with her on the phone for this week’s music column, but she clearly had much more of interest, and of eloquence, to say than would fit in the paper. Here’s our interview, below:
I read and loved your profile in the New Yorker, and specifically your respect for and appreciation of jazz. But beyond that, I was interested in your comments about playing with McCoy Tyner, and how it reinforced your beliefs that jazz should not be a dusty museum piece, and more a music that needs to be for the present time. I wondered what McCoy Tyner thought of those comments. Did you ever hear from him about it?
Oh, no, I didn’t. But I honestly doubt he’s too concerned about it either way. We talk about it as a conceptual thing, the art form, and that’s good. It’s good to keep the creative juices flowing, the cerebral aspect of it, and thinking about what it means, and where we’re headed with it, and blah blah blah. But the day-to-day reality of making music is just to do it. I mean, that’s the priority, is to sit down every day and explore it. I think there’s a place for every kind of practitioner of the craft. I really have come more and more to believe that, traveling as much as we get to travel—and even living in New York, seeing how much diversity there is of concepts and philosophies about the music, and having those philosophies boil down to the music that’s actually being made.
You have those folks who are total bebop heads, who really see that as the pinnacle of the music. And then there are people who don’t want to have anything to do with that, and say, “Well, that was the language of back then, and now we live in today. We have to keep cultivating the idiom, and forget about that. That was one strand in the stream of what music is, so let’s keep on evolving and not clinging to that.” And the beautiful thing is, there’s really room for everything.