Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Parka Avenue talks to Fernando "Boogaloo" Valez of Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings

It should be obvious to everyone that I think Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings is the best current Soul act around. This is not an overstatement. A recent Mod Generation poll states it too. Unless you've seen them live, no blog post, Internet poll or newspaper review will do the group justice.

This time around, I really got to appreciate the incredible vocal abilities of the band's back-up singers, The Dapettes. Inside sources indicate that they might be coming out with a single or two, sometime this year. This is great news. Speaking of 45s to be on the look out for, the band debuted the brand new Binky Griptite's musical creation New Shoes. I can easily see myself spinning this up-tempo dance number at any Northern soul night. This is a bona fide hit.

Aside from their gripping stage presence and musical prowess, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are an approachable bunch. You won't find any big egos here. I had the chance of doing a short interview with Fernando "Boogaloo" Valez, the low key but indispensable congas player. A friendly cat, he is obviously very proud of the band he is a part of. This is what he had to say.

Your touring schedule is pretty hectic. How do you cope with that?

This is what we do. This is our life. I chose to do this. Of course, sometimes it's hard but I love it.

Daptone Records puts all of their releases out on vinyl. Is vinyl just a fad or is it here to stay?

When we started, Daptone only put out 45s and LPs. Some of us collect records and it's a real passion. Vinyl offers a range of sound that other mediums don't. After a while, fans requested that we put out CDs since some of them didn't own record players. We had to cater to them. This is not a fad. We are in it for the long run.

You sometimes hear people describe your sound as "retro". How do you feel about that?

We can't help the fact that people put a label on us. We just play Soul and Funk, plain and simple. Soul has always been present and has never stopped. We just continue on with the tradition.

How important is the overall look of the band?

We're on stage to put on a show and you have to look the part. I think it's important. I've noticed more and more people, like you, have started dressing up at shows. It's nice to see people, young and old, from all backgrounds putting in the effort.

Are you aware that SJDK have a big Mod following all over the world?

Yes, absolutely. They've been supporting us from the very beginning. At almost every show we see pockets of Mods here and there.  I remember seeing them all over, in cities like Barcelona, Toronto and New York.


Motown and Stax might be long gone but we can console ourselves with the fact that we now have Daptone Records. The future is bright!

If you want tour dates, info, photos and more, join their Facebook page or have a look at their official website here.


  1. Patrick have you heard my NY pals The Sweet Devines?

  2. Nice!
    Merci pour l'entrevue!!
    and thanks Wilthomer for the info about The Sweet Devines, love them!