The "jam session" kept jamming and jamming Friday night as Brian Culbertson's "A Soulful Christmas" band at the Conga Room teased the crowd. "The Purple One is in the building," said singer Mike Phillips around 1 a.m., pointing up to a little VIP room with the curtains drawn. He'd been suggesting a "special guest" for the past hour; the band had been playing the funk grooves -- "Sensual Seduction" by Snoop, "September" by Earth Wind and Fire, and Rufus' "Tell Me Something Good," whose guitarist, Tony Maiden, was guesting with the band -- when there was a ruckus stage right as the crowd parted to let Prince and his entourage squeeze toward backstage. Finally. Then the band kept going ... and nothing. There were some ear-to-ear whispers onstage, them as in-the-dark as us on the dancefloor ... and nothing. More grooves, waiting ... nothing. Then the band stopped, thanked us and left the stage.
Confusion. Prince is here. They've been teasing us since 10. Maybe his whole band is coming out? Then roadies start removing microphones from the stage. Then the drum mics. They start unplugging more as the DJ turned up the hip hop jams. Maybe we're taking a breather while Prince prays for a moment?
Nothing. Apparently Prince changed his mind. We file out, burned by a flaky Prince. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he wasn't feeling Brian Culbertson's cocky onstage demeanor. Maybe he wanted to go home and play basketball and then make a pancake breakfast (as he did in Charlie Murphy's classic story of meeting Prince at an LA club).
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Regardless, there's nothing like a little tease for Christmas. Oh Prince, why you wanna treat us so bad?