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Review: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Jazz Cafe

Review: Sharon Jones  & The Dap-Kings - Jazz Cafe cover

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at the Jazz Cafe, London on Friday 9th January 2004

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at the Jazz Cafe, London on Friday 9th January 2004

Fellow Soul Source, James Trouble is the DJ tonight and he plays a blinding 2 hour set to warm up the crowd. At 9.30pm, 8 men walk onto the stage looking more Reservoir Dogs than funk musicians, in their black suits, ties and white shirts. The Dap Kings are the house band for Daptone records and are made up of musicians from The Soul Providers and the Mighty Imperials, both of which gained recognition for laying the music behind Desco Records’ legendary catalogue of funk 45s and Lps.

The show commences with two hard instrumentals to get this Friday night crowd moving. As they begin to play “The Cassella Walk”, Dave, the trumpet player and MC walks over to the main mic to speak. “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Daptone Super Soul Revue. We are the Dap Kings and we’d like to introduce you to a funky and dynamic sister. The star of our show, the No.1 funk sister. Miss Sharon Jones!”

If you’ve seen this whirlwind live before, you know Sharon Jones is not one to waste time. With braids in her hair and a black baby doll dress, the five foot tall stick of dynamite backslides between the horn players, grabs the mic and declares that she has something on her mind she needs to share - cue her first single ‘Got a thing on my mind’ - a beautiful fast and tight track which was an overnight hit in the US. Spicing it up in the bridge, she shouts, “ got a thing on ma mind Mr Bush! Tell me, tell me, if the war in Iraq is over why don’t you send our brothers and sisters home!”

Men are still on her mind in the next song - a cover of ‘What have you done for me lately’.

“Miss Jackson did this song but i’m taking it and making it funk!” A mood brass section starts the song, the rhythm section kicks in and Sharon starts singing in a way only a great funk singer can ... “What have you done for me lately, I ain’t talking about last year, last month, last week, or yesterday. What have you done for me in the last second... huh!”

Next up is a gritty version of “Things Got To Get Better”, written by James Brown and originally sung by Marva Whitney. It’s here I realise that Sharon’s voice is more akin of the higher range’s Lyn Collins and Vicky Anderson but it works brilliantly on this track.

Sharon was born in Augusta, Georgia in the late 50s. As she shares with the crowd a story of her and her brother as kids practising the moves of fellow Georgian, James Brown, the Dap Kings take us into their third song and final cover, “There was a Time”. This gives Ms Jones the perfect opportunity to showcase her own floor work - the JB shuffle, mash potato, jerk, camel walk, boogaloo and finishing with the “Miss Sharon Jones”.

By now no one in the Jazz Cafe is standing still (except for the couple sucking each other’s faces off next to us!) The incredible wall of sound generated by the Dap Kings sounds as fresh now as it was when the godfather of soul played the New York Apollo 30 odd years ago.

Giving the crowd time to cool down, the next song is ‘Ain’t it Hard’, quickly followed by some audience participation for ‘Give Me A Chance’ as Sharon drags punters willing and good enough to dance on stage, encouraging them to “Shake the thang your mama give you!” James where was Annie! This also gives the guitar and bass section of the Dap Kings a chance to shine.

‘How Long Have I Got To Wait’ is followed by ‘You Make Me Feel Good’ and Ms Jones introduces each member of the Dap Kings, their respective tools of the trade and the reasons each one of them “make me feel good”. Tonight the band worked through most of their repertoire laid to tape, ‘Make It Good to Me’, ‘Got to Be the Way It Is’ being my favourites, and a few numbers I haven’t heard before including “I’m Glad” and ‘I Ain’t Paying’.

With each ensuing song the temperature continues to rise in the Jazz Cafe, Ms. Jones winding the room tighter and tighter with her tireless Dap Kings. She finished the show with ‘I’m Genuine’ (remember folks they’re American do genuine rhymes with serpentine!) and we head of into the cold night air shaking the thing our mama gave us.

The Dap Kings were:

Drums - Homer “Funky Foot” Jenkins

Congos – Fernando Velez

Guitar - TNT

Guitar - Al

Bass - Bosco ‘bass’ Mann (writer and arrange of all songs)

Tenor Sax - Otis Youngblood

Tenor Sax - Neil Sugarman (of Sugarman 3)

Dave Guy - Trumpet and MC

Further information on

Daptone Records

Sharon Jones

The Dap-Kings


Real Audio samples from Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings’s “Dap Dippin’” LP 

Video Clip of "Aint It Hard" taken on the night by James pal, Fryer.

(up in refosoul)


We spoke to a Daptone rep on the night who was selling their catalogue of 45s. Sharon Jones’ version of ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)’ is not set to be released on single yet but it is likely to be on their second album (date of release unknown).


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