Pictured left to right: Chris Siguenza, John Kreisher, Jon Hegel, Dave Flomberg, Chad Aman, Venus Cruz, Andy Rok Guerrero, Derek Aman, Joe Shull
On May 12, Film On The Rocks — the yearly summer film series at Red Rocks that’s a fundraiser for the Denver Film Society (denverfilm.org) — opened earlier than usual with a tribute to Prince. Twelve local acts took the stage — including spoken word artist Suzi Q. Smith, the Flobots, Andy Rok and The Real Deal and the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus — and the show was capped by the Heavy Heavies, featuring Venus Cruz and Aaron Howell (MF Ruckus and White Fudge). Here, Heavy Heavies trombonist and long time Yellow Scene contributor Dave Flomberg talks about the experience.
YS: How did this all come together?
DF: It was a whirlwind. Kristin Nolan, who’s the brains and the brawn behind FOTR, pulled off nothing short of a miracle. Prince died on April 21, and less than three weeks later, Kristin had an all-star local lineup playing a sold-out show at the greatest venue on this planet. She called Chad Aman — one of the most genius musicians I’ve ever met — and employed him as the musical director. Then Chad started making wishes come true for me and a bunch of other local musicians he tapped to play this tribute.
YS: Talk about Prince and what he meant to this scene and the musicians who played the tribute.
DF: There wasn’t a musician on that stage who didn’t love the Purple One. He transcended contemporary pop for the last 40 years — no one would argue that. But it’s also easy to dismiss pop as formulaic, and he was anything but. When Chad started deconstructing and reconstructing his tunes for our arrangement — we did “Darling Nicki,” “I Would Die 4 u,” and then closed the show with “Purple Rain,” — I was reminded of just what a music genius Prince really was. Layers, textures, attention to detail — Prince was in command of every overtone. He was a true maestro.
YS: You closed out the show with “Purple Rain.” That must have been something.
DF: I still can’t believe what happened. You know that moment in a concert when the band plays the first chord of the song the audience has been waiting all night for, and the whole crowd erupts like Mile High stadium on a sudden-death winning touchdown? It was like that — I’m just looking out at this mass of people and I’m seeing tears streaming down faces and I’m dropping a few myself. It was unreal. Almost 10,000 people singing back at us, all completely committed to that experience. For a brief moment, we ripped the sky above Red Rocks. And I got to be a part of that.