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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 46
Sharon Jones pours on the soul at Showbox
Arts & Entertainment
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Sharon Jones pours on the soul at Showbox

by Jerry L. Peerson - SGN A&E Writer

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
November 10
The Showbox Market


The first time I heard Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, I presumed the DJ was spinning dust off an old 45 for some late '60s retro soul flashback, but you'd better not let Sharon Jones hear you call her 'retro.' The Augusta, Georgia, native, now aged 55, expressed to Explore Music in an interview in May that she is simply 'natural, and doing what [she has] always done,' and it's hard to recall anyone else who more deserves the long overdue success that she is now savoring.

From the moment Jones strutted on stage in a stunning teal sequined dress to the moment she triumphantly sashayed off, The Showbox at the Market was electrified. Electricity was generated by 11 top-notch musicians as well as friction from the frantic dancing of a diverse capacity crowd. Opening with a lively rendition of 'Pick it Up, Lay it in the Cut' from the 2002 debut album Dap-Dippin' followed by a theatrical 'Without a Heart,' Jones boasted energy that folks half her age wish to possess. Even when appearing shorter in stature than most (if not all) of those sharing the stage, the soulful power of perfect-pitch vocals coupled with a jovial, yet commanding stage presence made her seem larger than life; a perception perhaps only heightened by the thick scent of ganja wafting though the air.

A good mix of songs from all four of the group's albums was performed Thursday night, but never had I heard them with such energy and conviction. The slow jams and mid-tempo numbers were just as entertaining, especially 'The Game Gets Old,' which saw Jones inviting fans to interact and dance with her onstage. Bernard, an audience member who was singled out to act the male role in the song, was beaming as he kissed and caressed Jones, making me wonder if he could possibly be harboring a little celebrity crush. Either way, engaging her fans in such a fun, but always seemingly genuine way, added an enchanting element that at times may be lacking from many of today's entertainers.

The further into the set the Dap-Kings traveled, the more and more Jones seemed to embody her idol, the late James Brown. With a well-earned drenching of sweat and her throat raspier, she was never more confident than on one of the final pieces: 2007's '100 Days, 100 Nights,' where she played bandleader by randomly and quickly selecting each one of the Dap-Kings to improvise a solo. Slowing them down, then speeding them up, pointing and giving cues like a musical Simon Says, the faster she singled a member out, the more elated the audience became. When the song climaxed in a wall of sound, I almost couldn't discern which was louder: the band or the thunderous applause.

The final number performed on this night was not only quite fitting, but also a heartfelt tribute to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Brown's 1966 smash hit 'It's a Man's Man's Man's World' is known to evoke strong emotions, but with Jones delivering the lyrics -'This is a man's world / But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing / Without a woman or a girl' -the feeling was not only poignant, but hair-raising.

When you spend an evening with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, come prepared for a complete package: theatrics, musicianship at its finest, and a front-woman with the voice, personality, moves, and repertoire to keep you begging for more. Although their music is deeply steeped in successful soul formulas of decades past, there is no doubt they are creating compelling and downright rump-shaking original records that -regardless of the decade or even century - should be spun in perpetuity.

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