A Toast to His Royal Badness

Music

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY APR 21, 2017

The Purple One. The High Priest of Pop. The Prince of Funk. When Prince died one year ago to the day, the world mourned. The Grammy and Academy Award-winning musician introduced the world to countless hits, including “Little Red Corvette,” “Kiss” and “Purple Rain,” assembling a massive body of eclectic and innovative work that spanned 39 studio albums, while also wowing audiences as an electric and unafraid performer. And this Sunday, April 23, NEXXLevel Band invites all of His Royal Badness’ local fans out to Fogartyville Media and Arts Center for a tribute concert in his honor. The show starts at 7pm and tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

For Troy Nichols, vocalist and founding member of NEXXLevel, Prince was always an inspiration. The first concert Nichols saw was Prince bringing down the house in Philadelphia. His first band, Royal and the Royalties, was a thinly veiled Prince homage. It wasn’t just one song or one album, it was the entirety of Prince—this man who could jump from genre to genre, instrument to instrument, record all of his own work and always push the boundaries. “Prince was the musician’s musician and the performer’s performer,” says Nichols. It was that first concert, he says, that he first truly understood what a concert could be—not just a series of songs, but a curated performance that builds upon itself.

And that’s something that Nichols tries to bring to every NEXXLevel show, using musical interludes and stage interaction to make even a tribute concert more than a recreation. Joined by Jack Berry on bass, Nicholas Sanchez and Akeem Esdaile on guitar, Jared Johnson on drums and Fernando Cruz on the saxophone, NEXXLevel will of course bring some of Prince’s greatest hits to the stage on Sunday, but also some deep cuts that deserve greater appreciation. Sunday’s show also brings a slate of special guests to the lineup, including Troi Lauren, a Philadelphia-based performer (and Nichols’ daughter) who last toured the world as a principal dancer and singer with the Michael Jackson tribute, Invincible, and Sarasota native Kevin Mendel, a 17-year-old guitar wunderkind.

“I’m hoping that the audience appreciates the genius of this man and what his life represented,” says Nichols. “We have a part of him—a legacy that will last forever—and that’s his music. And music is a wonderful way to reach and touch people. That’s all we can hope for.”

The Tribute to Prince begins April 23 at 7pm at Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

Pictured: NEXXLevel performs. Image courtesy of Troy Nichols.

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