When my friend Lee mentioned to me that Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings were coming to Montreal, I could tell he was elated. “Patrick, it’s the best concert I ever saw in my life.” That is quite a bold statement. “Imagine a female version of James Brown”, he added. I had never seen her in concert before and didn’t know much about her, to be honest. Without being skeptical, I took his comment with a grain of salt. But I kept an open mind. Lee is not the type to exaggerate.
Well… I have to say, Lee was dead on! A Sharon Jones song is sweet soul music at it’s best. And she did remind me a bit of James Brown. But not the James Brown I saw the last time he came to town. I’m not talking about a cheap Vegas type revue where JB was a sad caricature of himself. It wasn’t like the tacky, tourist trap acts I saw on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Hell no! She had class and the band is the real deal! Two words: Old School. No wonder the concert was sold out.
When you have two talented back-up singers, a complete horn section, two guitarists, a bass player, a drum player and a cat playing the congas, you can tell they are serious about their craft. They also looked the part. You couldn’t fault them with their cool looking suits and slim ties.
Let’s not forget about the queen of soul herself, Ms. Jones. What a powerful voice! She blew my mind! And she got to do it up close and personal too! I don’t know what I did to attract her attention but when she extended her hand to invite me on stage, I didn’t hesitate one second. When I left my flat a few hours earlier, I wouldn’t have expected to be serenaded by her on stage. I literally had chills running up and down my spine. She had me under her spell.
The rest of the show was obviously going to be hard to beat. Not surprisingly, the rest of the set was all very tight and solid. I still have a hard time believing that there’s an incredible contemporary soul act, with all original material, touring these days. For once I am content not to be living in 1964. I can see why they have such a loyal following.
After the concert, I made sure to visit the merchandise table. Lee had warned me that Daptone Records, the band’s independent record label, had most of their catalog on vinyl there. How many soul record labels do you know that still come out with 45s these days?
Final count: I bought the Daptone double LP compilation and six singles. And to top it all off, as I leave the concert hall, I cross paths with Binky Griptite, the guitarist of the group. I asked him if he could spare a few seconds for a picture. He graciously accepted. As he leaves, he turns around and says: “Great dance moves by the way…”
A night that will be hard to top…
Check out this video I took of one of their songs: