Super-producers Jimmy “Jam” Harris and Terry Lewis are keeping their pledge to showcase Minnesota music in the 10-day “Super Bowl Live” concert series on Nicollet Mall — and they’re going above and beyond in honoring the old boss who once fired them.
Prince’s cohorts Sheila E., the Revolution and Morris Day & the Time will all take part in a tribute to the late music icon on Monday, Jan. 29. The New Power Generation is also set to play another night.
The rest of the free outdoor music marathon, scheduled Jan. 26 through game day Feb. 4 in downtown Minneapolis, will include a cross-section of Twin Cities favorites, including: rock staples Soul Asylum, the Suburbs, Bob Mould and the Jayhawks; gospel/R&B troupes the Steeles and Sounds of Blackness; hip-hop innovator Dessa; classical choir VocalEssence; R&B stalwarts Mint Condition and their newly solo singer Stokley Williams; and even “Crush on You,” singing ’80s pop family the Jets.
One other non-local star was named in the announcement to humorously hype the fact that the shows are taking place outside (in Minnesota in the dead of winter): Tony Award winner Idina Menzel will sing “Let It Go,” from the Disney ice-princess movie “Frozen,” to formally open the concert series on Friday, Jan. 26.
Those names — but not the dates of their gigs — were revealed at a press conference Friday morning at City Center with Mayor Betsy Hodges and both Harris and Lewis, who were hired by the Super Bowl Host Committee to help put the concert lineup together.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring all kinds of Minnesota music together in a way that doesn’t often happen,” Harris said after the announcement, where he also promised more acts “now in negotiation” will also be added to the lineup.
“And it’s an opportunity to showcase Minnesota music for a worldwide audience, but we also want to do this for the local audience, for people to take more pride in all the great music from here.”
Wearing purple for the occasion, Hodges also emphasized the concert series would be geared to local crowds. “I can’t say it enough: These shows are all free and open to the public.”
The singer/drummer who scored the mid-’80s hits “A Love Bizarre” and “The Glamorous Life” under Prince’s tutelage, Sheila E. said she was proud to be invited to the big party in Minneapolis even though she’s never officially been a local act. She is also due to perform the day of Super Bowl LII, Feb. 4, in a pre-game party at the newly refurbished Minneapolis Armory.
“Ever since Prince took me in, Minneapolis has always been like a second home to me,” she said by phone from Los Angeles.
Sheila even sounded like a local when, with a little Prince-like cockiness, she shrugged off the prospect of performing outside during a Minnesota winter: “We’re going to kill it no matter how cold it is,” she said.
“It’s going to be lovely, don’t worry,” Harris said of the weather, joking that the series could be nicknamed “Coldchella” (a play off the California music festival Coachella).
“An outdoor event in the middle of winter: What’s not to love?” quipped Hugo Klaers, drummer for the Suburbs, who attended the press conference. He said his band happily signed on “knowing Jimmy and Terry were behind this, and it was going to be a very Minnesota thing.”
The Super Bowl Host Committee is also using the theme “Bold North” to play up the wintry vibe of the local Super Bowl Live festival, which will take place on Nicollet Mall between 6th and 12th streets
Every night leading up to the game, Nicollet Mall will light up with blue, purple and green lights to replicate the Northern Lights. A walk-in football-shaped snow globe will be constructed along with ice sculptures encasing NFL jerseys; nearby booths and activities will be sponsored by corporate partners.
It’s not unusual for the Super Bowl Live series to go local music-wise. Last year’s lineup in Houston was mostly made up of Texas acts, including Solange, ZZ Top, Gary Clark Jr. and Leon Bridges.
Harris and Lewis were announced as the producers of the concert series in October, but they ran into some airplane trouble that kept them from attending a press conference then. Ironically, the pair was famously fired by Prince after flight delays made them miss a gig when they were members of the Time in 1983.
Still, the duo made it clear right away they intend to honor their childhood friend with this big winter party in his hometown.
“The loss of Prince makes this even more important to us,” Lewis said. “It made us more aware of our mortality, and pushed us to do things we want to do before our time here is up.”
Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson contributed to this report.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658