When I first thought up the idea for Chosen By The Funk and commissioned Mike Davis to design my logo back in January 2016, I always envisioned that it would be an event production/promotion company. I contacted venues all around town to book a variety show/dance party and had no success, in most cases getting no response whatsoever. When my pitch for a guide to Detroit's Movement festival was quickly shot down by a website I really was hoping to write for, I decided that my days letting an editor make those kind of decisions for me were over, and I decided I would start a website under the same name as my event company.
Then Prince passed away, and everything changed. On May 2 of this year, my first piece for The Current was published on their blog. I wrote about the Prince memorial parties at First Avenue. I had never seen dance floors like those anywhere in Minneapolis, and in the piece I wondered why we had to wait for something sad to happen to give us an excuse to come together like that. Two days after the piece was published, on my birthday, I not only launched this website, I had an epiphany. I realized that if I wanted something like those Prince parties to happen again, I would have to be the one to do it. I realized that I was chosen by the funk to do just that.
In the almost exactly six months since then, I worked on throwing a big dance party, but again was frustrated by lack of venue. I was probably aiming too high. In my opinion, the only venue that would be a fitting tribute to Prince was First Avenue's main room. I tried and tried to come up with some support to prove to First Avenue that this could be viable. I sent quite a few e-mails and proposals that got no response. It was frustrating, but I realized that if this is something I really wanted, I would have to work for it.
By the time summer became fall, my idea had expanded to include a charitable side, and I had been hooked up with Hopewell Music Cooperative North by a woman who I read about in a Star Tribune article and subsequently reached out to. Hopewell is North Minneapolis' only music school, and they offer sliding scale (down to free) private lessons and instrument rentals.
After an open house at newly re-opened The Hook & Ladder Theater (former site of Patrick's Cabaret, where I put on variety shows in 2014 and 2015), I realized I could do a version of the show I was planning at First Avenue there, and make it feel much more like what attendees of my shows have come to expect from me. The Hook is a non-profit and its director Chris Mozena has been supportive throughout the entire process. After months of frustration and getting no where, something was finally starting to happen.
While I was trying to get a show at First Avenue, the goal was always some time in December. Woody McBride was also trying to do a show in December and my friend at First Avenue suggested we work together. I had already started lining up my show at The Hook by then, but I figured this would be a helluva way to kick off the Chosen By The Funk event series. It was questionable whether it would actually happen but we pulled together a line up that I am pretty proud of, and I feel we have a very reasonable ticket price for the talent we have.
I have written my last piece of Even Furthur coverage, but there is no denying the buzz is still there. It's all still relatively fresh in our heads. I think this party captures the spirit of Even Furthur with some key players and also showcases a couple of Minneapolis finest up and coming DJs, Cloudy Kid and Amy Pickett (who were my booking contributions to the line up).
My dance class will be a special one. Originally when I dreamed up the dance party at First Avenue, it would have been a Prince tribute. People are worn out by those by now, and frankly I think even I am. Prince will play a role in my dance class, I will pay tribute to him in the place I wanted to pay tribute to him, and then I can finally lay that to rest.
I feel a deep connection to Prince and I always will. There have been some Obi Wan Kenobi like moments since he passed, laugh if you want, but I believe he is lighting my path forward. I realize the most Prince thing I could do would be to do it my own way. I am not Prince and I never will be. I am good at some things, though, and I am funky as hell! More importantly, I believe in myself. Prince will be an inspiration, but I will not follow in his footsteps (as if I had that choice). I will focus on the dance party, not the concert. I will focus on making tight personal connections, because unfortunately I am not a once-in-a-lifetime musical genius. I will use music and dancing as a tool of empowerment and inclusion. I will work towards making Minneapolis a better, more unified and equal place, and I am going to have a really good time while I am doing that.
With that said, I am THRILLED to kick off phase 2 of Chosen By The Funk!
Come with me, join me on the dance floor and TOGETHER we will Make Minneapolis Funky Again!!!