Early Saturday morning of July 7th, we get a text asking if we can be at Paisley Park around 3 P.M. for rehearsal. We say yes! Although we didn't arrive til 4:30 P.M., PRINCE & The NPG moved back rehearsal until 7 P.M. for us.
Joshua Welton picks us up from our hotel and sax player BK Jackson jumps in with us as we ride to Paisley Park. Josh says he is gonna drive slow since it is my first time driving with him. Later that night, when we were driving with his wife Hannah Ford-Welton, she asked if "I ever been in a race car before?" 2 different styles for sure!
So me, Joshua, and BK get to the Park and the band is on stage and they all wave to me as Elisa walks by to take her place on stage.
I look to my left and I see PRINCE and his hair behind me at the sound board. They then start to play.
This rehearsal is for one of their 3 Montreux Jazz Festival concerts so, if you do not wish to know set list, do not click or read below!!!
The band goes into "Strays Of The World" with Prince behind by the soundboard. I'm going to take a seat with Josh on the floor but PRINCE asks us to sit on the couches by the soundboard. As I walk by PRINCE, he gives me a high 5 and asks me how my flight was. " I say it was good. Thanks man."
PRINCE is giving direction to the band, first to Cassandra O'Neal and then Shelby asks if the girls mics can be turned up in the monitors.
PRINCE then asks me if I want to take notes. Notes. At a private rehearsal? Keep that in mind. You know I said yes and a notebook was retrieved for me.
They rehearse "Strays Of The World" with PRINCE still at the sound board for about 15 minutes then he joins the band on stage. He does a mic check and puts his voice at different levels to make sure they have it.
They go into "Strays Of The World" and in the middle, he stops the band for more direction. This time, they go straight through the song. That is followed by "Days Of Wild" but the loop is not kicking in at the right time, so they go over it about 3 times. It then sounds right and they do a full version complete with PRINCE dancing and having a good time. He asks for the monitors to be raised in the back.
They start setting up for Livestream later and say PRINCE wants me to interview fans outside of Paisley Park that night. I say "cool" and turn my attention back to the stage.
They do "Strays Of The World" again with Donna soloing and then "Days Of Wild" again. The horns on "Days" are perfection!
They go into "Get Wild" then "Ain't Nobody" then "Don't You Stop" ending with "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige.
They then perform "Big City" with Damaris Lewis dancing and singing the second verse. She is set up next to Shelby, Liv, and Elisa the entire time. PRINCE advises Hannah "No break, go straight into the kick" and a few takes later says "Getting there" and on the next one he proclaims "Perfect" and they move on.
PRINCE walks back to the soundboard and Kirk Johnson advises there is starting to be a crowd of cars lining up to Paisley Park to get in later. PRINCE exclaims "They must have followed Funkenberry!"
By the soundboard, PRINCE sings "Ain't Gonna Miss U" from "Ain't Gonna Miss U When U're Gone" and the band goes into "People Pleaser" with the NPG Divas splitting the vocals. The 3rd verse is taken by Shelby J. on a megaphone. PRINCE then joins them on stage to perform "Ain't Gonna Miss U When U're Gone" and a tiny element of Bozz Scaggs "Lowdown" is played followed by "Pick Up The Pieces" by Average White Band. It is a tiny, tiny element, but I pick it up.
That is followed by "F.U.N.K." with a blistering guitar solo by Donna Grantis. The NPG Divas are singing lead on the song after PRINCE kicks it off with "Here it comes again!"..."
This is followed by a rousing version of "Dark" with PRINCE ad-libbing "Somebody turn on the lights, it's so dark!" and then quickly followed with "Someone open a window, it's so dark"
They then go into "Something In The Water (Does Not Compute) complete with Cassandra O'Neal solo. Can I point out how lucky I am and it is just me, Joshua and Trevor watching this with the sound guy? At Paisley Park no less? OK then, back to story!
The band goes into "Courtin' Time" as PRINCE walks back to the sound board. The NPG Divas are singing the "Courtin' Time" part as sax players get to jam on the song.
That is followed by "24" by Madhouse and a Donna Grantis solo. A few times, Donna switched guitars while on stage. She now walks off stage and PRINCE high fives her.
The band then goes into "Get On The Boat" which I think the last time I heard this live was at the ALMA Awards with Sheila E. and Grupo Fantasmo. The band sounded great but I think it missed Sheila on percussion. As soon as the song ended, PRINCE turned to the sound guy and said "You should hear Sheila on this!" and then pretended to play percussion. Yup, same wavelength at times.
It is now time for a dinner break.
Here is the setlist. Some songs were played multiple times.
Strays Of The World
Days Of Wild
Get Wild/Ain't Nobody/Don't U Stop It/No More Drama
Ain't Gonna Miss U When U're Gone
Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)
Get On The Boat
So PRINCE tells everyone to take a long dinner after this 90 minute rehearsal. Says come back around 10:45/11 P.M. and tells Kirk to open the doors to Paisley after 11. I'm thinking to myself, "Well, I guess Joshua is gonna take me back to my hotel til 11."
Then PRINCE looks at me and says "You wanna talk" and I say "sure" and he says let's go. I take my notebook and follow him as we are about to talk to close to 3 hours......there is a reason he wanted me to come alone.-DocFB
Diagnosis: The interview....to be continued....in several parts...