MONTCLAIR, NJ - Prince may have died, but his legacy promises to live on. Montclair’s talented musicians came together Saturday night to pay homage to the artist, who was found dead this past Thursday in his Minnesota studio.
The usual lineup for Montclair Center Stage was altered, said Joanne Smalls, producer of the event, to include a tribute to Prince. Dozens of spectators danced under the moonlit sky, enjoying the free show.
Paying tribute to the fallen music hero was Scott E. Moore vocalist of the band (also filmmaker, executive producer, writer and creative director), along with Rich Tozzoli on electric guitar (also Grammy-nominated music producer and composer), Hank Skalka on bass, and Lee Jeffryes. Together, as the Deep Dig, they performed Prince’s Kiss, which electrified the crowd. Some danced, some cried, many sang along and others swayed to the ballad using their phones as lighters.
Moore told us that he himself is of the MTV generation and told us Tap Into that he was involved in producing the first MTV VH1 Honors award show in 1994. He said, “I was given the task (and honor) to create a short film retrospective on Prince, which would be shown before his performance. Even back then, his career was so prolifically epic, that it was a Herculean task to achieve in 3 minutes or less.”
When MTV launched Moore was out buying his first guitar. He said, "Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince were to the MTV Generation what Elvis Presley and The Beatles were to the Ed Sullivan generation."
He added that Prince influenced him most in that, “He was mysterious and untouchable. Prince could play anything; he had everyone’s respect. He was a master. No one on the planet would go on stage after Prince,” he said, referring to a video of James Brown pulling Michael Jackson and Prince from a crowd, and as always Prince was the showstopper.
Beyond that, Moore described Prince as breaking all barriers including sexuality and race. He named some of Prince’s diverse influencers such as Joni Mitchel and Fly and the Family Stone and said, “Prince was truly a feminist. Women in his band were not just eye candy, they were remarkable musicians.”
A group of children spent the evening in front of the stage, which Moore remarked was a sign that things were going well. He said, “We know we are in our groove if kids - who are not socially programmed to be inhibited - are up, dancing and feeling the joy."
Mark Bowers, known as Lil Bastad, who has been playing prince tributes in New York City, told Tap into Montclair that he could summarize how Prince had affected him and his craft over the years in one word, “Totally!”
He told the crowd that he had just been with Prince three weeks ago in Greenwich Village. He then introduced Luke Michura as his brother from another mother. While their introduction and respects paid to Prince meant a lot, nothing spoke as loud as their phenomenal rendition of Purple Rain. They also sang other songs such as Raspberry Beret and Pop Life.
We caught up with Skalka who said to him Prince was just amazing. He only spoke of Prince in the present tense.
Skalka said, “I can’t accept that he is gone. He’s the consummate everything! He’s the consummate musician, he is the consummate writer, the consummate singer, the consummate producer, and the consummate entertainer.”
Tozzoli, who boasts a tremendous amount of talent and equal amounts of unpretentiousness said, “Prince inspired me to take command of my instrument and be the best I could be at all aspects of my music.”
Moore indicated that inspiration often comes while appreciating another musician’s talent, saying, “Prince was a reminder of what we don’t know.”
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