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Concert Review: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

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Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

January 3rd, 2008

Culture Room

Better than: Watching the Dap-Kings back up Amy Winehouse.

Last Thursday night, a soul music extravaganza took place inside of the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings played to a sold out crowd and let music lovers know that old school soul music doesn’t always have to be retro. For those that don’t know, the Dap-Kings are a tight eight piece band from Brooklyn, NY that have been gaining a heap of praise lately, mostly because they’re the musicians on Amy Winehouse’s highly lauded Back to Black album. While backing up Winehouse is what helped the Dap-Kings’ name spread far and wide, the group is most exciting to watch, not when they’re on stage with that British pop diva, but when they’re playing behind Jones, a short, spry, 51-year-old ball of energy with an incredibly powerful voice that makes Winehouse sound like the twee novice that she is.

Jones has spent the past 25 years vying for her shot at soul stardom, and when she took the stage last Thursday at the Culture Room, you could see just how much she appreciates the opportunity to show the world what she’s made of.

Miami’s Spam-Allstars opened up the show and had the packed audience dancing and boogalooing to their hot blend of funk and latin soul. They were a perfect opening act and knew just how to warm up a cold South Florida audience that initially seemed rigid due to the chilly weather. But it didn’t take long before everyone inside was dancing and getting loose. A b-boy circle broke out to the right of the stage and there was something about the combination of breakdancing and latin funk that seemed like the old school days in the South Bronx had returned when b-boys used to top rock to Willie Colon and Eddie Palmieri breaks. As fun as this all was, everyone inside was just waiting for the headliners to come out and hopefully live up to the hype.

When the Dap Kings took the stage, you could tell right away that these cats put on a show. Eight musicians walked out dressed to the nines sporting shiny vintage instruments in pristine condition. The look is designed to mimic the soul revues of the ‘60’s and the horn section even had syncopated dance steps. They played two songs as a unit sans Jones, and then brought out the star of the show which sent the crowd into a frenzy. It was the band’s first gig of 2008 and Jones let us know that she needed to get in her first dance of the year. Next thing you know, she’s doing African dances, Native American dances, her shoes are off, her feet are moving like grease lightning, and she’s taken off her earrings too. The show was nonstop, the band never slowed down, and it was all high energy soul with lots of sweat. What stood out most about the Jones was her willingness to pull people out of the crowd and give them a few minutes to dance on stage. Eight separate times she let folks get up and strut their stuff and it’s that interaction between fans and entertainers that makes a show worthwhile. When the band jumped into “100 Days, 100 Nights” the marquis song off their newest album of the same name, all nine artists were deep in the pocket and locked into a groove tighter than gnat booty. It’s shows like this that let you know vintage soul is alive.

--Jonathan Cunningham

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