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Prince’s last high-profile Twin Cities performances involved three gigs in one day in 2007: at Macy’s, Target Center and First Avenue.

David Joles, Star Tribune

Prince to jam out the kinks at Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis

  • Star Tribune
  • January 15, 2013 - 9:59 PM

After months of flirting with the Dakota Jazz Club, Prince has booked a rare three-night hometown engagement this week at the 300-seat nightspot in downtown Minneapolis.

The late-notice shows -- two per night -- went on sale Tuesday at lunchtime and sold out right away at prices ranging from $70 for Wednesday's gigs to $250 for Friday's.

Each night promises a different approach: Wednesday's is billed as an audition for a new drummer and improvisational jam (with a set by DJ Rashida), Thursday's is described as an "after-party vibe" and Friday's has been left as a "surprise."

Prince is reportedly breaking in a revamped band.

The shows have been in discussion for more than a month but were confirmed only late Monday night, Dakota co-owner Lowell Pickett said.

The concerts aren't even billed officially as "Prince" shows, but Pickett said, "He just wants to play."

Show times are 8 and 11 p.m., with a 2 a.m. curfew.

To combat scalping, the Dakota will require that the person who bought the ticket be the one using it. Nonetheless, tickets are being advertised on Craigslist for as much as $1,000.

Prince hasn't played a high-profile gig in his hometown since July 7, 2007, when he pulled off three shows -- one at Macy's downtown Minneapolis, another at Target Center and a short nightcap at First Avenue.

His last public performance in the Twin Cities was a late-night affair for $40 in 2009 at his Paisley Park complex in Chanhassen. His only club gig in recent memory was at the old Rupert's nightclub in Golden Valley in 2000, a benefit for his late bodyguard.

Paisley Park wasn't an option this week because the Grammy-nominated New York band fun. -- known for the megahit "We Are Young" -- is rehearsing there for a tour that begins next week at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.

Prince has occasionally hung out at the Dakota for dinner and concerts, as recently as last month's Tower of Power gig. However, he never has actually stepped onstage there despite numerous hints of it, including an Esperanza Spalding concert in 2009 when an amp was set up for him.

Special rules will be in effect at the Dakota: No cellphones or cameras; food service will be stopped each night, and the tables and chairs near the stage will be removed for Friday's events -- a first for the club.

Prince originally envisioned six nights at the Dakota but kept changing his mind, according to Pickett. He still has the venue rented for Sunday and Monday, but as of now there are no plans for any more shows.

Since 2010, Prince has been touring sporadically, mostly playing multiple nights in arenas in such major markets as New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. His most recent run was three nights at Chicago's United Center in September.

After a relatively quiet year for the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Prince fan sites have speculated for weeks about his plans for 2013. These public rehearsals with new band members suggest he is planning a more ambitious concert schedule.

Twitter: @jonbream @ChrisRStrib

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