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Fred Armisen, Holly Robinson Peete remember Prince

Show business lost a lot of beloved stars in 2016, but Prince's death still resonates with many entertainers.

I was chatting with Fred Armisen this past weekend in Los Angeles about how tender he and co-star Carrie Brownstein are towards their characters on IFC's "Portlandia." The conversation naturally segued into the comic's classic impersonation of the rocker on "Saturday Night Live," repeats of which dominated a special tribute episode that aired shortly after his death in April.

Those bits also seemed to come from a place of love.

"They did, 100 percent, because I was a fan," said Armisen. "I've been doing him since college. That was a total salute, a tribute."

Armisen, who is also the bandleader on "Late Night With Seth Meyers," didn't have a personal relationship with Prince, but that didn't stop folks from reaching out to him when the tragic news broke.

"I got all these texts like a family member had died. In a way, it was like a family member had died," he said. "Even now, I'll hear something like 'When Doves Cry' and then remember that he's gone. I still can't believe it sometimes."

Later in the evening, I attended a Hallmark Channel dinner party where I happened to be seated across from actress Holly Robinson Peete, who is frequently in the Twin Cities to promote her fashion line and speak to various groups.

In November, Peete had posted a picture of First Avenue that she took after watching a Timberwolves game, saying that his loss had left "a purple hole" in her heart.

"It was very emotional," she said as the waiters laid down the main course.

Have you ever been inside the nightclub?

"Prince took me!" she said. "He also gave me a tour of Minneapolis." The year was 1992 and Prince had invited the actress/singer to record at Paisley Park, the same year the actress portrayed Diana Ross in a Jackson 5 mini-series. Peete seemed to guess what was going through my mind.

"He was sort of dating Mayte at the time," she said.

Prince and Mayte Garcia would marry in 1996; Peete wed former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete in 1995.

Back at the hotel bar, the house band had the floor moving with a version of Prince's "When You Were Mine."

Big purple holes in everyone's hearts.

St. Paul's Palace Theatre picks Atmosphere, Jayhawks for inaugural concerts March 10-11

Atmosphere co-founders Ant (Anthony Davis), left, and Slug (Sean Daley) will rechristen the Palace Theatre on March 10. / David Joles, Star Tribune

Atmosphere co-founders Ant (Anthony Davis), left, and Slug (Sean Daley) will rechristen the Palace Theatre on March 10. / David Joles, Star Tribune

They were the first act played on 89.3 the Current. They were the first local act to put on their own big outdoor festival in recent years. And now, Minneapolis hip-hop vets Atmosphere will be the first act to perform a public concert at St. Paul’s newly renovated Palace Theatre.  

The Rhymesayers co-founders will kick things off in the historic, 2,800-capacity theater on Friday, March 10, with “special guests” not announced. Tickets go on sale Thursday at 11 a.m. via and First Avenue outlets for $25.

And the local bands will keep playing through the Palace's opening weekend: The Jayhawks and the Cactus Blossoms are teaming up for a twangy twofer the night after Atmosphere, March 11. Those tickets go on sale Friday at noon for $30. Palace/First Ave reps also announced an out-of-town headliner, Phantogram, to top off opening weekend on March 13.

Atmosphere exemplifies the kind of acts earmarked for the Palace by First Ave staff, which is managing the theater for the city of St. Paul: They’re able to perform multiple nights at the legendary nightclub but are not a good fit for the other theaters in town, which have permanent seats. The Palace’s ground floor is entirely a general-admission standing area, while the balcony holds about 800 seats. Also, Atmosphere knows better than to book a show at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz said in a press release for the concert, “It’s with a lot of excitement that we’re announcing the grand opening concert at the Palace Theatre with Atmosphere. We have such a history with Atmosphere and the Rhymesayers family, it felt like the best way to kick-off a very exciting year in downtown St. Paul.”

Two other concerts have been confirmed so far for the Palace: Regina Spektor on March 26 and the xx on April 28 (the latter is already sold out). More shows will be announced in the coming weeks.

Aside from its instantly sold-out First Ave gigs once or twice a year, Atmosphere has not performed indoor gigs in the Twin Cities in recent years. The group saves its local mojo for its ever-popular Soundset festival, which is scheduled again May 28 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Here's Atmosphere's latest video, a track off last year's playful album "Fishing Blues."

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