Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings put the groove in your bones
The soul train makes a stop at The Blue Note on Sept. 20.
Hailing from funky town in the skin of James Brown, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings bring the foot-tappin', hand-clappin' groove of gospel into its 1960s soul. Amid the gilded pop scene of the 1990s, when Nirvana was "In Bloom," there was a spark that reignited the Motown vibe.
"I met Sharon around 14 or 15 years ago," said Gabriel Roth, Dap-Kings' bassist, bandleader and co-founder of the group's record label Dap Tone records. "I was doing a record and needed a background singer. One of the sax players said his girlfriend could do it, and we have been working together ever since."
Sharon Jones, The Queen of Funk, speaks the truth with her newest album, I Learned the Hard Way. Jones spent her younger years confined to talent shows and wedding receptions while working as a prison guard at New York's infamous Rikers Island before joining up with the Dap-Kings.
The nine-piece band truly is a medley of people who all bring a unique flavor to its brass-rich sound.
"Everyone in the band has his or her own story," Roth said. "We have a real family, and it took a lot of time to get to that point."
Although sowed from the seeds of past legends, such as Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, Jones and the Dap-Kings have managed to come into their own self-defined style.
"(Our) sound has a lot of energy and is in the tradition of soul," Roth explained. "But we have a really unique sound because we have been playing for so long."
Get ready to groove because this soul train just left the station for an international tour this month and will be making a whistle-stop in Columbia. Its raw power will rock The Blue Note on Sept. 20.
"We will probably play a lot off the new record, I Learned The Hard Way," Roth said. "We do not use a set list. We just go where the move takes us. Sometimes we get the room so heated people are going to pass out, so we slow it down. We play what makes sense in the moment."
Jones and the Dap-Kings are notorious for their gritty and magnetic live performance that will transport you straight back to the late 1960s. The band ignites the experience with a sort of Motown foreplay. Beginning with some instrumentals, emcee and band guitarist Binky Griptite sings a few songs before moving into a huge intro. Inspired by James Brown's announcer Danny Ray, Griptite booms and rumbles in a high-energy introduction for Sharon Jones that gets both the crowd and the band charged.
Roth barely hesitated when prompted for the goal of their music.
"In the grand scheme, it would be to alleviate suffering, to make people want to dance and make a human connection," Roth said. "We want everybody to have a big party."
This soul sister makes the audience feel what she feels and hurt like she hurts. She moans, groans, screams, sways and bleeds emotion during the band's soul revival.
"One of the things that always attracted me to soul music is the humility of it," Roth said.
Jones harnesses the raw power of the human condition. She takes the pedestal we place artists on, chucks it across the room and marvels as it splits into pieces.