Friday, December 7, 2007

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Tomorrow night, after the annual P-I holiday party, Michelle and I are going to a cool little Capitol Hill nightclub, Neumos, to see one my favorite new bands of the past few years, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.

Fittingly, it was a couple of P-I friends, Lino Fernandez and Tahirih Brown, who turned me on to the band a couple of years ago. Jones and the DK are part of the neo-soul or soul revival movement, and like Angie Stone, another of my favorites from this genre, when they get it right they're totally transporting -- I feel like I'm back in the early '70s and getting my groove on with my big 'fro and my superfly Temptations/Pips/O'Jays spin-step moves.

The first SJ&DK album I heard, 2005's "Naturally," hit this ideal about half the time, I thought. Jones has a big ol' voice in the Southern gospel choir/soul singer tradition, and she can bring it like Aretha when she wants to. The Dap-Kings, with their tight horn section, funky guitars and sharp percussion, have that 1960s-'70s sound down cold. Occasionally, though, as on "Fish in the Dish," I felt like they were trying so hard to mimic that old sound that they were more like a Martha & the Vandellas knockoff cover band than an authentic act.

The new record, though, "100 Days, 100 Nights," is 100 percent solid, front to back. The songs and the sound are richer and more varied, and if anything Sharon and the band are even more in the pocket. I could listen to it over and over, and have. Check out the title track, or "Humble Me" or "Be Easy" or "Let Them Knock."

This week I listened to an interesting "Fresh Air" interview with Jones and the band's co-founder Gabe Roth, aka Bosco Mann. They got together almost accidentally. The band was already working on a record and called in Jones, on a friend's recommendation, to do some back-up vocals. She nailed all three harmonizing back-up parts on the first take and ended up singing lead too.

The interview also took some of the mystery and, I thought, fun from one of the new album's seemingly sly, double-entendre songs, "When the Other Foot Drops, Uncle." Turns out the "crafty little pencil" that's "running out of lead" really is a pencil; the song is political, not sexual. Oh well, still a good tune. Check out the interview here.

We missed Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings the last time they were in Seattle, but from what I hear they're even better in person than they are on record. What if Aretha Franklin had toured with Tower of Power? I can't wait for the show.

"100 Days, 100 Nights": 4 gliomas. Concert review tk.

Meantime, check their stuff out on YouTube:


kateco said...

wow -- that's great! And you are a lucky dog to be hearing this band live. I wish I could be at that cool, small club gig with you guys. (I think I'll be home eliminating our evil alien overloards to save the world)

And I just bought this album on iTunes -- yeah that's how the internest work!


Mark said...

Cool -- you'll have to give us your review between saving humanity and folding proteins.

kateco said...

omg! this is my new favorite album -- I had to take a minute off from sliding around the house in my sock feet, shakin' it -- to tell you how sweet this is.

freda said...

I checked it out, they are great, I can't believe I have never heard of them. Wish I could go with you guys.