News Column

Video newcomer presents Prince with a command performance

October 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 17--Newcomer Danielle Curiel proves she can multitask in the video for Prince's new single, "Breakfast Can Wait." She stars as the sexy dancer at the center of the storyline and, with a thin mustache penciled in above her lips, as Prince himself. Curiel, a Florida native who moved to Los Angeles two years ago, also conceived and directed the clip.

Watching the video, Curiel comes across as a strong, confident young woman with years of experience. Talking to Curiel on the phone, however, reveals a surprise. She's only 18.

Prince's proteges the Twinz -- twin sisters/dancers Maya and Nandy McClean -- first reached out to Curiel via email with a request from Prince that she write a proposal to direct a video for the song. "He ended up loving it," Curiel said from her L.A. home. "He asked me to direct it and gave me a budget to shoot it."

Curiel said she has acted and danced on-set before but had never been on the other side. "This was my first time directing," she said, "my first time being in charge of anything regarding production."

When she got the call, was she aware of Prince's history and music? "I am only 18," she said, "but I did know Prince. Are you kidding me? He's a legend!"

Prince, who does not appear in the video, allowed Curiel control over the shoot but also gave her plenty of suggestions. For one thing, he wanted dancers. "A thousand dancers showed up for the call," Curiel said. "It was crazy.

"Prince was so open to all of my ideas, it was great," she added. "It was very, very easy. He's a really cool guy, and he's really funny, too. He's a big jokester."

It has been a big year for Prince, who opened 2013 with a string of shows at the Dakota Jazz Club, followed by a full tour and local concerts at the Myth and Paisley Park. He has a new, all-female backing band, 3rd Eye Girl, and the latest incarnation of the New Power Generation has grown to 21 musicians. He's expected to release a new album with 3rd Eye Girl in early 2014.

Meanwhile, after declaring the Internet "completely over" in 2010, Prince has re-embraced the Web, using Twitter, YouTube and Livestream to share photos, music and videos with his fans around the world. He has slowly rolled out the sly, sexy "Breakfast Can Wait" single, issuing the MP3 for purchase, then the cover art (featuring comic Dave Chappelle dressed in "Purple Rain"-era finery) and now the video.

Curiel and her sister are also budding musicians, and she said -- surprise, surprise -- Prince has expressed interest in working with them on some tunes. She also said she kept the footage of her Prince impersonation a secret until the editing process. "I wanted to surprise him and see how he felt about it," she said. "He went crazy. He thought it was genius.

"We work well together," Curiel said. "I see us having a long-term relationship."

IN THE CLUBS

After longtime local concert promoter Sue McLean died of cancer at 63 in May, it was only a matter of time before her many friends and fans organized a benefit in her memory. A tribute concert has been set for Nov. 23 at First Avenue. Singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson ("Rock and Roll," "OK, It's Alright With Me"), who built a local following thanks in part to McLean's support, will perform, with more special guests to be announced. There will also be an online and live auction with items from McLean's personal music memorabilia collection. Tickets are $50, or $150 with a pre-show VIP reception, and will go on sale at noon Friday through Etix. Proceeds benefit a trust fund for McLean's teenage daughter.

Michigan native Drew Nelson is a Navy veteran, a fly fisherman and a singer/songwriter. He also released the album "Tilt-a-Whirl" last year on St. Paul's Red House Records and will headline a gig sponsored by the label Friday at Landmark Center. He'll perform in the Landmark's intimate 230-seat F.K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium in downtown St. Paul, with a pre-show cocktail hour at 7 p.m. and the concert at 8. The series will continue with Spider John Koerner and Tony Glover (Nov. 15) and Heather Masse (Dec. 20). Tickets are $15 in advance.

Now that he has put Bon Iver on ice -- possibly for good -- Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Justin Vernon is focusing on other projects. They include his bluesy rock act, the Shouting Matches, and Volcano Choir, a more experimental group Vernon formed in 2005 with the members of Collections of Colonies of Bees. The first Volcano Choir album, 2009's "Unmap," was overshadowed by Bon Iver, but the follow-up, "Repave," has already found a wider audience and hit the charts in several countries, including France and Norway. The band's current tour hits First Avenue for a sold-out show Friday, with support from Mark Mallman, before moving to Vernon's hometown of Eau Claire, Wis., for gigs Saturday and Sunday at Schofield Auditorium.

Chicago-born, Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter Courtney Yasmineh debuts her latest album, "Wake Me Up When It's Over," with a CD-release show Friday at Bunkers. She describes it as "a collection of songs often about women behaving badly, like cougars on the dance floor ... this is life without apologies, taking no prisoners, refuting the downside." Expect to hear some tales from the road during the show, too, as Yasmineh just returned from her seventh self-booked European club tour, which included dates in London and Amsterdam.

Hip-hop band Sexy Delicious releases its new album, "Too Hot to Bother," with a show Wednesday at Icehouse with support from Black Diet. Sexy Delicious was the house band for the Chalice, whose rappers Lizzo and Sophia Eris return the favor by singing on the title track and the infectious "Dollars in My Pocket."

Pop music critic Ross Raihala can be reached at 651-228-5553. Follow him at Twitter.com/RossRaihala.

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(c)2013 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

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