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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 03/13/2006

Ta'mar and Prince's Hit and Run

By Rhome Anderson

Offices all around the Washington area are feeling an acute employee drain this morning, and it's not only because people are calling in "sick" to enjoy the summer temperatures. Many of the people whom you might see on a day-to-day basis placidly balancing spreadsheets in neighboring cubicles were wildin' out at Nation last night. I saw them with my own two eyes. Such is the power that Prince holds over hearts and minds.

With one more night on this D.C. leg you may be asking yourselves, "is it worth it to surrender precious sleep and $60 before the Ticketmaster bamboozlement charges to see Prince back up some singer I've never heard of?"

I'd recommend it.

I'm not even a Prince head like that either. I know the hits like everyone else. I've got some b-sides in my collection, even an original vinyl copy of his Black Album. But that's DJing madness, not Prince madness. Last night was actually my first time seeing him live. Some of the Princeophiles I know gasped and crossed themselves when I mentioned that, but I think it's helpful for my "keep it real" quotient.

Enough about Prince for a second. Just off of her 90 minutes of nearly continuous full tilt dancing and singing Ta'mar might have more raw talent and presence than any Prince protegé save Sheila E. Her vocals were mixed loud and straight down the middle of Nation's booming system so any shortcomings with her pipes would be on full display, and you'd think they might be affected by the aerobic Tina Turner-esque choreography. She's definitely not a vanity prop for the Purple One. Ta'mar is legit.

I don't know much more beyond what I saw. A Google search turned up little more than a stint on Star Search and raves about this current tour. What kind of material is she working with? Undoubtedly funky as long as Prince has a hand in it, but her few originals were packed in with a lot of covers. That was probably a shrewd move because it endeared her to an audience that regularly interrupted DJ Rashida's opening set with chants of "We want Prince!" I surely wasn't mad at her take on Meli'sa Morgan's "Love Changes."

Okay, back to Prince. He was in bandleader mode and everything was in place to optimally shine light on his new artist, from the lighting to the stripped-down band to the superhuman workout given by Ta'mar's twin backup dancers/vocalists. The dude is a ham though and clearly loves his job. Even as a sideman he can't help but feed off of the crowd's energy and reflect it back by several powers of ten. He dropped copious helpings of chicken grease on his Telecaster and ripped searing solos on pretty much every other song. The sense of humor that fuels his showmanship was on full display too, whether it was snapping on the audience members brought up on stage at several moments in the show or becoming dramatically overcome by the dangerous levels of funk being generated by his band. "Oh snap, we 'bout to hit 'em with the Oooh Weee!" he warned, before exchanging the Tele for a Strat and rocking out at thundering decibels.

And what a band it was, composed only of bass, drums, keys and Prince's axe with a brief cameo from NPG alumnus Mike Scott on rhythm guitar. I could have used some horns though, but I won't split hairs. The MVP award definitely has to go to drummer Cora Coleman-Dunham. To put it frankly, she's a beast. Because she spent some time doing her thing here in Washington, I'm feeling bereft that I'm just now getting hip to her. Last night was a sufficient enough introduction that I'm not overly mournful about what I've missed to this point.

One last practical concern: doors open at 10 p.m but the show didn't start until just after midnight. Folks ranging in age from post-college all the way up to established AARP members didn't seem to care. Hopefully this has proven useful to those of you who are still on the fence.

Did you stay out late and experience it for yourself? Chime in with your thoughts.

By Rhome Anderson  | March 13, 2006; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Music  
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Comments

Shame on you. Melisa Morgan's Love Changes? That was a cover. The original and best version is by Mother's Finest.

Posted by: Eric | March 14, 2006 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the review.

I don't know if you know or not, but
Ta'mar is R&B singer, Toni Braxton's sister. They are from Severn, MD.

It good to know that she is talented and making a name of her own.

Posted by: Dana | March 14, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I will give it to her, Ta'mar put on a good show and is really talented, but as a Prince fanatic I was REAL disappointed that we couldn't even get a couple of Prince classics. I'm not talking Purple Rain or anything, but Calhoun Sq. and Party Man? Come on. I didn't stand for two hours BEFORE the show and drag myself to work today to see an unknown sing covers all night. They didn't even do the duet they are playing on the radio right now...that said, I wouldn't miss a Prince show; I just know what to expect the next time he's promoting someone else.

Posted by: Shay | March 14, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I went to both shows & luckily work for myself (www.WashingtonGardener.com - Washington Gardener magazine) so can set my own work schedule in these recovery days!

Dana is incorrect - this is NOT the Ta'mar who is Toni Braxton's sister - they are two totally different singers. This Ta'mar is from Houston. Also, I think if you compared their photos there'd be no confusion...

BTW, If you are a big Prince fan - check out our local Prince family at www.LoveSexyDC.org - we meet monthly and have been going strong since March 1994!

Posted by: Kathy | March 14, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Eric. If there wasn't always more to learn I wouldn't be doing what I do.

Posted by: Rhome | March 14, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Rhome, great review.

It says alot that this was your first Prince show and still captured so much from it. I couldn't have said it better myself, and I'm an avid.

Ashley Tãmar Davis is her full name. Indeed she is NOT the Braxton sister.

The obscure songs were my favorite part from Prince. In fact I think the nature of this mini-tour is the obscurity of a new artist, and attracting true music fans. Calhoun Square Monday nite and Beautiful Strange guitar Sunday was sick! Had he played old hits I would've been bored. I think those who came w/ expectations missed a lot of what Prince gave his audience. How many times do you want to stare at the Mona Lisa?

Tãmar was so much fun to watch. She has the voice, the moves and the natural stage personality. I wonder how much Prince has taught her, and how much she brought to the table.

And Cora... definitely dented some tin!

Fav quote: "He dropped copious helpings of chicken grease on his Telecaster and ripped searing solos on pretty much every other song. The sense of humor that fuels his showmanship was on full display too..."

Posted by: Heidi | March 14, 2006 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Amazing show... and your amazingly detailed analysis and recap of the show was perfect.

I was amazed on how they kept the show so captivating despite most of the show goers’ relative newness to this artist.

I must say though I thought the long wait outside and then inside was too much. Poor DJ Rashida, who had to endure the growing impatience of hundreds of hot and weary fans. Maybe 2 hrs of that would have worked in a venue with seats and better a/c... but at Nation that bad boy should have started no later than 11:00 or so. I mean… it IS a weeknight.

Still, although this was my third Prince show, I have to admit my favorite. I love hearing the old stuff but the newness of Ta'mar and her music made this experience amazing.

Posted by: Hassan | March 14, 2006 5:47 PM | Report abuse

yeah- me and my daughter caught the show in Atlanta- I drove there from Tn.- well worth the trip- mid-week-midnite- at the Tabernacle-what...he rocked the show- went ole' schol jus enough- whatabout those twins-strange but badazz dancers-Ta'mar- figured the DNA was the wrong match for
Toni B's sis- She brought it though- she kept u focused while waitin on the man- there lies talent in those thighs-i am proud of u 4 stepping into the purple circle-well written-took me back

Posted by: tonya | March 21, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

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