Now on any other Saturday night, I’d most likely be going through the day’s record scores, making a mix, or just relaxing. On Saturday I get a phone call midday from Cool Hands Luke. He had a last minute cancellation for the Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings record release party at the Apollo Theater in Harlem NYC. Last minute cancellation, (how bad does that person feel?) I mean, if it is one show you see this year (besides the Bad Brains reunion tour), it’s Sharon Jones at the Apollo. That’s the pinnacle people, the Apollo. You play there well received, you get bragging rights, Period. We had third row orchestra left seats, and we could have seriously just reached out and would have been on stage. Not bad for a cancellation. Imagine my surprise too when I sat down in my seat, only to have a complete stranger say to me: “You’re the guy from FleaMarket Funk!”. Not only was I seeing a great show in one of the best places to see a Funk, Soul or Jazz band, but I end up meeting someone who actually reads this blog. Shout outs to Allen for schooling me on the finer points of Brasilian music. Obrigado.
The opener for Sharon was Seleno Clarke’s Harlem Groove Band, featuring some really great players and Ian Hendrickson-Smith of the Dap Kings on tenor sax (who killed it!). Everyone knows I’m a sucker for the Hammond, and this band was definitely out of sight. Seleno hosts his Harlem Legacy Jam every Sunday night at The American Legion Hall located at 248 West 132nd St., New York. Sounds like a great time, they even have some home cooked meals. Looks like a FMF field trip might be in order.
With Binky Griptight leading the Daptone Soul Review and calling the shots JB style, and Bosco “Bass” Mann (aka super producer Gabriel Roth, yeah I said it, the guy is a genius) leading the band, the Dap Kings warmed the crowd up before Sharon took the stage. A special appearance by the one and only Lee Fields (complete with gheri-curl and sequin shirt) got the crowd even more hyped for the Queen of Funk to come out. When she did come out, the place went nuts. She jumped right into it, taking off her shoes and earrings to give us a taste of the dance party that was to come. The band itself (complete with a string section at times) was tight the whole night. She ran through a lot of old stuff: “Pick It Up, Lay It In The Cut”, “How Do You Let A Good Man Down”, and threw in some new stuff: “100 Days and 100 Nights”, “Be Easy”, “Let Them Knock”, the show lasted close to two hours, and nobody, let me reiterate that point, nobody, was sitting down. The band paid a very fitting tribute to the man, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, the hardest working man in show biz, James Brown. Lee Fields rejoined her for a medly of JB tunes, and when Sharon sang “This is a Man’s World” in tribute to her hometown fellow musician, it was heavy. I like Lee Fields, but I think by the end his enthusiasm was getting a bit much. I did see Gabriel Roth try to get Sharon to slow him down a bit during the medley, only to kind of laugh it off as Fields took off his jacket and did his best JB impression. He also did his hometown dance called the “Boweled Leg”, which killed the crowd. Sharon had her choice of men to pull up and bump and grind, sing to, and even knock them off the stage at her whim. Most guys did not embarrass themselves with the exception of the dude that just about knocked Luke over as he was trying to grab Sharon’s hand and get on stage. (Better luck next show Cool Hands) She pulled a b-boy type up (not once, but twice) who wooed her and definitely shined in his 15 minutes. The real star, however was Sharon Jones. From beginning to the end she danced, sang her ass off, and showed everyone in that Apollo Theater why she is the best female Funk/ Soul singer today. Last night, sitting at the Apollo, I realized something. Nobody makes music like this anymore. Nobody entertains like this anymore. Nobody except Daptone. For 12 years they have been doing things their way, working hard and paying dues. Now they finally did it their way, at the Apollo Theater. They may be stuck in the days of 2 inch tape, vintage sound boards, and vinyl records, but as Roth uttered this borrowed phrase on WNYC radio Saturday: “You can’t roll a joint on an mp3.”, I can’t help think that the master of the vintage Funk and Soul sound out of Brooklyn is on to something.
Sharon Jones, DJ Prestige (looking like a crazed killer), Cool Hands Luke at The Apollo Theater 10.06.07