How Sweet It Is
The Marvin Gaye Tribute
Julius Collins is a renowned singer in Minneapolis. Managed by Prince when he first moved to the city from Atlanta, his band Black Julius emerged on the scene with a blend of rock and funk. Next up was the formation of the phenomenal group, Greazy Meal. which was comprised of some of the best musicians in Minneapolis. They packed the local clubs to capacity, and formed a following that is still dedicated to the music and energy they created on the scene.
Tommy Barbarella has made his mark behind the scenes composing, touring, recording and performing with Prince, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Art Garfunkel, Ziggy Marley and Love and Rockets – to name but a few. In the world of film, he has contributed his talents to Hollywood features by iconic directors like Spike Lee, Robert Altman and Marc Forester.
His first forays into the Minneapolis music scene came at a time when the 'Minneapolis sound' was exploding across the international airwaves in the 1980's. In a music club in downtown Minneapolis he was introduced to mega-producer Jimmy Jam Harris and other members of The Time. This eventually led to a 10-year stint as the keyboardist for Prince and the New Power Generation - a band considered by many to be Prince's finest line-up. With Prince and the NPG, Tommy toured the world several times over and made numerous TV appearances in the US and Europe.
Minneapolis native Michael Bland, like so many other outstanding drummers, started taking piano lessons at age 6 due to the direction of his musical mother and sisters. One year later he began taking lessons on the baritone horn, but fortunately, drums entered his life at 9. As his drum playing progressed he joined his church's band.
Around age 14, Michael decided to take drums seriously, and his practice and dedication paid off when two years later he won the "Twin Cities" Best Drummer contest. After the contest, local musicians took notice and he began playing with Hiram Bullock. A few years have passed and we find him in the drum chair gigging with Dr. Mambo's Combo in a local club where the budding Twin Cities "soon to be stars" performed. Enter another Minneapolis artist, Prince. After hearing Michael's percussion work, Prince asked him to join the New Power Generation. Michael was 19 and on his way.
Michael performed with Prince for 7 years, followed by a tour in 1996 with Paul Westerberg. After a Chaka Khan tour in 1997, he recorded and toured with Maxwell from 1998-2000, as well as other artists such as George Benson, Howard Hewitt, Evan and Jaron, Dionne Farris, and Phil Upchurch. Minneapolis is still his home where he continues to play with local artists like Soul Asylum, plus the Legendary Combo at Bunkers. He also collaborates with Tommy Barbarella, Sonny Thompson, Jef Lee Johnson, and Julius Collins in his progressive Gospel group, Sons of Almighty.
Sonny T. was a member of the Minneapolis band The Lewis Connection. Prince played guitar and sang backing vocals on the Sonny T composition 'Got To Be Something Here' a recording on The Lewis Connection's self-titled and only album. The track was recorded in late 1976 or early 1977 at Sound 80, while Prince also worked on his own tracks (notably this was Prince's first recording).
Kenni Holmen is one of the most active recording and touring musicians from the Twin Cities area. Kenni has performed and recorded with many local, national and international artists over his twenty year career.
Kenni has performed with Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, T.C. Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Donny Osmond, The Rev. Billy Graham Crusade, The Glen Miller Orchestra, Doc Severinson, Garrison Keilor, The Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra just to name a few. Kenni has recorded with Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Prince, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Ben Sidran, Baby Face, Mandy Moore, and many others.