Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Sharon Jones Will Save Us All
Sharon Jones is not a kid. She is a full-grown woman, a Baby Boomer born in Augusta GA but raised in the Apple, New Yawk New Yawk. As a young person, she was obsessed with her fellow Augusta native, James Brown. She is all of five foot tall, and she is not slender, oh no. She is a powerful small package - she blasts out the deepest soul and funk. Her live performances are astonishing displays of energy and charisma, not to mention fabulous musicianship and professionalism. Sharon achieves this with an instrument that isn't as polished as some soul singers - she doesn't have startling range and prettiness; just power and authenticity, which are vastly more important. She is a legend now, but she has taken a very long road to get there. She used to be a prison guard - Riker's Island, no less. She also was an armored car guard for Wells Fargo Security Services. She spent many long years trying to gain musical recognition and did sing back-up on a number of records. It wasn't until the late 1990's that her talent and ability to front a band became apparent to the soul/funk music revival community. Sharon's first record with the Dap-Kings was released ten years ago. While Sharon Jones is a legend, she isn't famous. She is known and loved by a decent fan base, but she hasn't hit the mass market. She hasn't achieved Adele's disgusting ubiquity on the soundtrack of our popular culture, and she never will.
Now here is the thing. For me, and I suspect for others, hearing Sharon singing over the tight, multi-racial Dap-Kings ensemble is a transforming experience. She makes me feel that my problems can be overcome, that the unattainable is obtainable, that there will be a brighter day. This sounds ridiculous, but I feel that this type of music can save us all from the depressing aspects of human existence. Even when Sharon is singing songs of pain and loss, I feel uplifted. Talking and writing about her music is a futile exercise; you have to hear it to understand. Just click here and listen to Sharon lay it down at this year's Bonnaroo festival..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLpJBTgbgqs
This late 1960's/early 1970's soul/funk revival makes me happy. I was seriously imprinted with this sound and the emotions that went into it when I was just coming into adulthood. Tower of Power, Kool & the Gang, Sly and the Family Stone, Rufus, Cold Blood, Parliament/Funkadelic and of course the fabulous James Brown were all on my soundtrack. They still are. The success of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings makes me feel hopeful that this music will live on and remain fresh.