February 2, 2011

Sharon Jones Hits Up State

Print More

If you’re looking for a Thursday night date that’s soulful and funky and won’t land you a rejection, look down the hill to State Theater and you’ll find Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings waiting for you. The show marks this one time prison guard, one time armored truck driver, 52-year-old  turned soul singer’s stop in Ithaca, one of many  on a winter filled with shows and festivals. When you hear Sharon Jones’s voice you’ll wonder why her music career didn’t begin earlier. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Philip Lehman and Gabriel Roth, the founders of the Dap Kings’ younger self, then called the Soul Providers, found Sharon Jones backing up artist Lee Fields on a track whose insturmentals imitated James Brown.  When Lehman and Roth split in 2000, Sharon Jones headed off with Roth, saxophonist Neal Sugarman and four other members of the original Soul Providers to the new, underground record label, Daptone. The group became well-known during international tours during the early 2000s, a period in time duing which it became clear that Jones’s soothing, penetrating voice would lead the band forward.  The band’s more notable collaborations include a huge role in  Amy Winhouse’s Back to Black in 2006, a composition for the film The Great Debaters and a joint remake of the hit “So Good Today,” by British singer Ben Westbeech.The collaboration with Winehouse launched Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings from the world of underground, Brooklyn music into the mainstream eye. The move was not necessarily welcomed by the group, which takes pride in its lack of commercial motivation and focuses mainly on producing a range of vintage flavors of music, even if it means losing money. Although they enjoyed working with Winehouse, the rise to popularity that ensued from the collaboration didn’t rely on the qualities of their music that they hoped to emphasize. They remain a Brooklyn based, subsistence minded group at heart. Sharon Jones was born in Augusta Georgia, the hometown of James Brown, whom she counts as one of her biggests influences — a list that includes Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, The Supremes, Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. You can hear these ghosts at work in a process that produces an original sound. Singles such as “100 Days, 100 Nights” demonstrate Jones’ ability to hit insane notes and hold them. You’ll also be impressed by how the Dap Kings combine upbeat, funky jazz with blues in a way that brings Motown to the present day. “How do I let a good man down?” will make you swing and saunter at the same time. Your date will like it though, meaning that you won’t be the good man that gets let down.

Original Author: Joey Anderson