Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Bijou

Bijou, Knoxville, March 2011

Special thanks for this blog goes out to Kevin who encouraged me to listen to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and to Don who insisted this would likely be a group I would enjoy. They were both so right. I decided to walk to the Bijou to see if I could get a cheap ticket. I lost my resolve. By the time I got there I was cold and, with tickets clocking in just below thirty dollars, I decided I would pay full price and wait inside in the warmth.

My ticket was near the back on the left (facing the stage), but as you know if you’ve ever caught a show there, there isn’t a bad seat. I also figure that since the sound is mixed from the back, it is probably the best sonic spot in the house.

Reigning Sound, Bijou, Knoxville, Tennesee, March 2011

The opening act, Reigning Sound performed admirably. The official page says they are a four-person band, but Knoxville got a three-person version. In that form, the sound was guitar driven, melodic British pop. I don’t think they are actually British, so they can’t technically perform British pop, but that’s what they brought to my mind. The melodies were excellent, the vocals solid, the instrumentation the same. What they lack is charisma. Star quality just seemed to be missing. Still, the sound was so good that I plan to check out their latest CD, Love and Curses and may spend my hard-earned money on some downloads.

Strutting the Stage: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Bijou, Knoxville

Sharon Jones by contrast, has no lack of charisma. The wonder is that such a talented artist came perilously close to remaining a wedding singer for her entire career. She signed with Daptone records at forty-two years old and has steadily built a following with her steady R and B. The Dap Kings, her backing band, also backed Amy Winehouse on her phenomenal Back to Black CD, which would, no doubt, have launched an amazing career were it not for Ms. Amy’s widely chronicled and unfortunate proclivities.

Dancing with someone from the audience, Sharon Jones and hte Dap Kings

Sharon danced, strutted, jumped and otherwise exploded from one edge of the stage to the other exhorting the crowd to join her on a soul train that moved at break-neck speed from the beginning of the show to the end. Her excellent vocals punctuated by her stellar horn section stood their ground with everyone they evoked, from Otis Redding to Sam and Dave and Aretha, herself.

Getting Down with the Ladies in the House, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Her dance moves alone would make her fascinating to witness. Dancing alone, with selected males or with a large group of females summoned onto the stage, she gyrated her way through the entire night, always, sometimes miraculously, nailing her vocals along the way. To call her an athlete who sings would not be an entirely inaccurate description.

The end of a good night – Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Bijou, Knoxville

I’ve completely enjoyed her most recent album, I Learned the Hard Way. I’d encourage you to follow that link and listen to the samples to see if you might like it. If you get a chance to see her, I think she is absolutely a must-see. While her music evokes artists and styles of the past, she is very much an artist of the present. I’ll leave you with a video I think you’ll enjoy.

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