Purple Xperience pays tribute to Prince tonight at Riverbend

Tribute band plays Riverbend tonight

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 1985 file photo, Prince performs at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. A pair of record labels announced Friday, April 28, 2017, that a remastered edition of Prince’s landmark 1984 album “Purple Rain” will be released on June 23, 2017. The labels say Prince oversaw the remastering process in 2015 and the “Purple Rain Deluxe” will include six previously unreleased songs by the late singer-songwriter, who died one year ago. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing, File)

More Info

If you go› What: Purple Experience followed by Morris Day and The Time with Cameo› When: 7 p.m. tonight, June 15› Where: Coca-Cola Stage

The first time the Purple Xperience hit the Riverbend Festival stage, some people at the event didn't even know they were playing. Riverbend organizers booked them so late that the band wasn't included on all promotion materials.

But the band's performance drew a crowd that stretched from the Bud Light Stage to the road, says Bob Payne, a talent buyer for Riverbend Festival.

This year Riverbend officials brought back the Purple Xperience, a five-piece Prince tribute band. But this time they'll perform on the main stage. The group opens for Morris Day and the Time with Cameo at 7 p.m. tonight, June 15, on the Coca-Cola stage.

"The idea is living, enjoying life. Celebrating," says Purple Xperience lead singer Marshall Charloff when asked what he wanted audiences to get from the show.

There's a message in many of Prince's lyrics, he explains, that talks about the afterworld and time being limited. It encourages listeners to prepare their souls.

"Tomorrow is not promised," says Charloff. "Dance like nobody is watching. Get up. Let's go."

Prince's former keyboard player, "Doctor" Matt Fink, formed the band with Charloff in 2011.

Fink, a three-time Grammy Award-winner and original member of Prince and the Revolution, co-wrote Prince songs such as "Dirty Mind," "Computer Blue" and "America." Fink stopped playing with the group this year to tour with the Revolution but he may return, Charloff says.

Even before Prince died, the group set out to play Prince's music with a high level of execution and with Prince's approval. Fink gathered highly skilled musicians for the group.

Demand for the Purple Xperience exploded after Prince died in April 2016. Charloff says imitating Prince has put him on a world stage, but the singer-songwriter also has albums of his own music.

"The guy looks, acts, sounds and moves just like him," says Payne of Charloff.

The group's play list includes songs like "When Doves Cry," "Kiss," "Let's Go Crazy" and "Purple Rain."

"This is the healing music I need! See ya there," says Stacie Goode on The Purple Xperience's Facebook page after a Riverbend promotion.

"They know how to do it," said Payne. "They put on a good show. They do the costume changes. They do everything."

The Purple Xperience will pave the way for Morris Day and The Time, the old-school funk band that Prince formed around the 1980s. The group is known for several singles such as "Jungle Love," "The Bird" and "Cool."

The billing also includes Cameo, that rocked the '80s with singles like "Alligator Woman," "Word Up!" and "Candy."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.