Prince Tribute Band Performs ‘Purple Rain’ at Rifle’s Ute Theater

Marshall Charloff plays guitar during a performance.
Submitted / Marshall Charloff and the Purple Xperience

We are gathered here in Rifle, Colorado to celebrate this thing called Prince.

On April 2, the Ute Theater and Events Center is set to host Prince Marshall Charloff Tribute Band and the Purple Xperience.

Hailing from Minneapolis, the five-piece ensemble brings all the classics that helped immortalize one of the most iconic artists to ever grace the Billboard charts.

“People bond with this artist,” said Xperience multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Charloff. “People come to our show to be among themselves, to be among their own: others who bleed purple.”

The April 2 headliner is actually split into two performances.

Charloff first kicks off the evening behind a piano and a microphone. The interactive storytelling and applause set offers a euphonious emulation of Prince’s last tour before he died 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.

“It’s a live experience. It will never happen again,” Charloff said. “Anyone in this room experiences something no one else in the world will experience.”

Charloff joined Matt “Dr. Fink” Fink in starting the Purple Xperience in 2011.

Dr Fink is of course the original keyboardist of 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 not only by Prince, but also by Morris Day and the Time, Sheila E, The Replacements, Soul Asylum and Husker Du.

Many would frequent the legendary Minneapolis venue, First Avenue.

Charloff would punctuate those funky days by signing local production legend Pepe Willie. The Minneapolis muse was one of Prince’s early musical mentors.

“He was recording me playing along to Prince’s tracks,” Charloff said. “Pepe then released these albums globally, 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.

Marshall Charloff of Marshall Charloff and the Purple Xperience during a performance.
Submitted / Marshall Charloff and the Purple Xperience

Charloff has become a famous producer and recording artist over the years, according to the band’s website. He has 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. The bill for that year included Cheap Trick. The performance marked the debut of Marshall Charloff and the Purple Xperience.

“There was no dues payment, there were no bar gigs,” Charloff said. “There was, ‘We have an original member of Prince and the Revolution and an all-star lineup from Minneapolis.'”

Charloff’s solo exhibition, The Purple Piano – The One-Man Tribute to Prince, has secured a residency in Las Vegas. Charloff also starred as Prince in Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater in 2018.

“I’m a musician, so I can just make this great music and channel its spirit and energy,” Charloff said. “The rest is just me. It just happens to sound and sound like Prince.

Journalist Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or [email protected]

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