Who would have thought that the next “Queen of Soul” would be from Augusta?
With all due respect to Aretha Franklin, it’s time to “Give the People What They Want,” and in this case, it’s time for us to “share our Sharon” with the rest of the planet.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ fifth release, Give the People What They Want, is chock-full of a delightful “soul stew” that mixes Motown and Stax with a cool New York City vibe. Think mid-’60s Supremes driven by frantic James Jamerson-style bass lines augmented with the Memphis Horns and you have an album that’s vintage soul at its very best.
WE ACTUALLY AGREE TO AGREE DEPT. For once, my Chronicle colleagues are in full accordance about an artist’s new album. Pop Rocks columnist Steven Uhles accurately describes the disc as “sweet soul music,” a term that Otis Redding, Arthur Conley, and Sam Cooke would have wholeheartedly embraced.
Ramblin’ Rhodes columnist Don Rhodes, who is a very close friend of Ms. Jones, told her last year “this album will take your career to a whole new level.” As usual, Don is right! Rhodes even picked the album’s first single, Retreat, which has garnered more than 111,000 views on You Tube alone.
Last week, the “man all-around downtown” CoCo Rubio received a text from Sharon that read, “Coco, I’m about to play on (Late Night With) Jimmy Fallon,” so he quickly turned on the TV and there she was, rocking the house in her usual, most raucous manner. Rubio says he’s “trying to get her back for a concert in Augusta” in 2014. We certainly hope so.
The national buzz for Jones and the Dap-Kings has continued with appearances on Jimmy Fallon, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It was obvious that these usually jaded hosts were as blown away by her soulful struts as their audiences were.
Even Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert is touting her talent. The Charleston, S.C., native said Jones is “one of the most dynamic voices in the nation.” Colbert may be silent about his letters but his praise concerning her talent goes all the way to 11.
TOUR DATES 2014 DEPT. Now that Jones has recovered from her bout with cancer that sidelined her for the majority of 2013, she’s ready to take the Dap-Kings on the road in support of the album. Seeing her and the 10-piece Dap-Kings on stage is an experience that will stick to your ribs long after the show ends.
The closest dates to Augusta are Feb. 14 at Asheville, N.C.’s Orange Peel, followed by a Variety Playhouse engagement in Atlanta the next evening. There’s also a Feb. 17 concert at the Music Farm in Charleston, S.C.
The next challenge for the group is to find the elusive hit single from the album, a crucial feat that has never been more important in today’s music climate. The infectious Stranger to My Happiness is a strong contender to follow Retreat as the disc’s second single, but there is also talk of issuing the funky bari-sax and bass-driven track People Don’t Get What They Deserve.
COVERING THE COVERS DEPT. Sharon and the Dap-Kings are featured in the new Martin Scorcese flick The Wolf of Wall Street, performing the classic James Bond theme song Goldfinger. Their version, which incidentally is not on Give the People What They Want, is definitely miles ahead of the original (and way-oversung) version by Shirley Bassey.
These days, the music biz truly needs a female singer with star-staying power like Sharon Jones. Lady Gaga and Madonna will continue to be considered as “nostalgia acts;” and embarrassing wannabes like Miley Cyrus are just “Bieber-Blips” on the entertainment radar.
To complete Jones’ Augusta connection, it’s interesting to note that she and the Dap-Kings have been performing the Godfather of Soul’s It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World in concert for years. Yes, it does make sense that when discussing rhythm and blues in Augusta one must now stress our two famous “J’s” who always knew how to Give the People What They Want: James and Jones! Like their music, it sure sounds good to me.