A standing ovation for Prince: Chase and the Ovation brings vibrant tribute to Prince

Published 10:52 am Saturday, August 12, 2017

Before he even hit the stage the presence of Prince could be felt through a montage of sounds that brought you right back to the late musical giant and when Chase himself took the stage with this band the Ovation and recited the prayer before “Let’s Go Crazy,” it was vintage Prince.

Chase kicked off his Friday night show to all the splendor that one could be expected from Prince himself. The energy Chase and his act displayed from the opening chord was enough to set the tone so that by the time they flowed into “Take Me With U,” it was clear that Chase was ready to settle in to an epic showcase of Prince’s music.

Chase interacted with the crowd throughout the opening numbers pointing and encouraging the audience to sing along. “Come on, you know the words,” to which he was greeted with a perfectly-timed reply.

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And it wasn’t just the music it was the style and presentation. The drawn out guitar solo that caps “Let’s Go Crazy,” was perfectly done, a beautifully rendered nod to the music he was in tribute to.

From the voice down to the style of dress and the look could fool anybody into thinking Prince was playing the Mower County Fair and Chase certainly knows he resembles Prince because throughout his music career he’s had plenty of people tell him so.

“I did a two-hour set of Ozzy Osbourne and people were coming up to me and saying, ‘Say, has anybody told you, you look like Prince?’”

He would get the same question years later when on the set of Prince’s film, “Graffiti Bridge,” where he was to be an extra. As the tale goes, it was during lunch, but Chase couldn’t eat the lunch because of food allergies. A stage manager came by asked about him not eating and then asked the question.

“‘Hey, has anybody told you you look like Prince?’” Chase related. “Next thing I knew I was standing on the set, on the stage. I was used as a stand-in.”

But Chase’s history with Prince goes back further than that. When he was just a child, Prince’s mother, Mattie Shaw, who was a good friend of Chase’s adopted mother, would watch him from time to time.

Chase, of Chase and the Ovation, caps the band’s opening number “Let’s Go Crazy,” Friday night at the Mower County Fair. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

So perhaps it just seems natural that years later Chase would be taking his act on the road not simply to play Prince’s music, but to honor the man as well.

Like so many people, Prince’s music touched Chase. It was a phenomena with Prince that his music crossed genres. You could love country and still blast “Little Red Corvette.” You could be a fan of metal music or rock and roll and still appreciate the funk of “Kiss.”

Chase points to two aspects of Prince’s music that would account for this.

“One, because it’s just flat-out good,” he said bluntly. “Two, it makes [people] feel something, it resonates. For a lot of people it was an incredibly identifiable period of their life. It was the soundtrack to some people’s lives.”

Chase explains that Prince’s music does more than simply sound appealing. It touches on an intimate level.

“It’s the uniqueness of it,” Chase explained. “For me personally, it makes me feel something. I’m often asked, what’s good music? Music is good as long as it makes you feel something. His music reaches across every genre of music fan. You still turned your radio up to 10 when “Purple Rain” came on. It grabbed me as a kid and never let go.”

Chase had the opportunity to meet Prince on several occasions and got to know the man off the stage and away from the cameras.

“He had a different relationship to different people,” Chase said. “If I had to narrow it down to something everybody needs to know about this cat is that he was one of the funniest people on the planet. He rarely showed that side out in public, but if he was in a circle of people he was comfortable with he was as good as any stand-up.”

The fact that Chase is able to devote a career to playing Prince’s music can not go unmentioned. Prince was known as a musician fiercely protective of his music.

“I think having seen the show — he attended the first half of a show at First Avenue in 2006 — and seeing the reverence I paid to the music and to him, he understood the point of the show,” Chase said. “It’s a blessing that he allowed me to continue.”

Getting to the point of touring the country with a complete band, however, wasn’t an intended destination, but rather the end of slow transition for Chase, admitting that, “It just kind of organically evolved into that.”

However, for the past 10 years it was the right choice for Chase and the band enthusiastically embarks on show after show of tribute to Prince, covering all aspects of the Prince’s illustrious career in music. The act not only covers Prince’s work but those people with whom he worked closely with including Sheila E. and Morris Day and the Time.

“There were so many artists that he worked closely with who had top hits and were household names across the world,” Chase said.

Chase and the Ovation play “Take Me With U” during the early going of their show Friday night at the Mower County Fair. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

It was that influence that carried over to the world when the news broke on April 21, 2016, of the iconic artist’s death and like so many people, the news struck Chase hard. So hard, in fact, that he considered ending his own show out of respect.

“Complete numbness,” Chase said in a somber tone. “When a loss that devastating hits you out of the blue with zero expectation you feel numbness, disbelief.

“I entertained the thought of discontinuing the show and that was concerning because we had countless dates we were still contracted for,” he continued. “We quickly learned from all of our friends, they immediately got upset that I was entertaining the thought of stopping the show. They said, ‘Now you have to continue.’”

Chase admits he still gets overwhelmed performing on stage as he thinks about the influence Prince had.

“I still get choked up on the way to a show, still get tears in my eyes,” Chase said. “Out of 10 shows, you’re probably going to see me cry at eight of them because the audience does.”

However, if you missed Friday night’s show and are thinking about catching Chase and the Ovation in the future, don’t go thinking you are getting a Prince clone. Go knowing you are getting a high-energy show featuring a full band that looks as if they were taken directly from Prince’s own shows that are giving everything to pay tribute to an artist that was one of a kind.

“They can expect not to see the purple jacket impersonators would use,” Chase explained. “Don’t get me wrong, we are absolutely as dolled up as dolled up can be. We will put on an arena-caliber Prince concert and that’s a tall order because there is only one Prince.”

No such thing  as favorites

While so many people can narrow down what their favorite Prince album is or what their favorite song is, don’t ask Chase to do the same.

On his favorite Prince time period: “It depends on the time of day it is and depends on the mood of the weather. I will say this, when we’re playing games on the road we always talk about albums and I can frequently be heard saying “Parade” is arguably one of the greatest records ever made.”

On his favorite Prince song: “That again is impossible and depends on the day. There are nights performing “Let’s Go Crazy” that it will feel like my favorite song of the set.”