Very few bands can get away with a direct imitation of another era’s style. It’s so hard to pull something off convincingly, let alone accurately. Those swing bands of the 90’s, the garage band revival, the brief polka boom of the mid 2000’s, it often just doesn’t work. So when Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings pull it off, it means that much more.
I’ve written on these here pages about Jones and the Dap Kings before, so I won’t go into an extended description of what they’re about. You probably know, and to quote the one and only Binky Grip-Tight of the Dap Kings “If you don’t know, you got to ask somebody!”
They held their Daptone 10th Anniversary Shows over 4 nights, 2 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and 2 at the Bowery Ballroom. First off, you have never seen that many people on the Bowery stage. 9 musicians in the band, 2 backup singers on a riser, and Jones out front. Not exactly spacious.
The crowd at a Dap Kings show is unlike most indie bands crowds. Decidedly less drunken obnoxious people, but the ones who are there, obviously gravitate right towards me. Here’s a little tip. If you’re a drunken white girl, it’s probably not the best idea to try to do those soul-vocal trill things from the crowd while Jones is in telling an emotional story about her mother being sick. Ya know? Just my opinion.
Something about the band seemed just slightly off last night. Jones clearly was having monitor problems, kept asking for more reverb and saying she couldn’t hear. While the dap kings stage presence is always stoic, it seemed a little more stoic than usual. Having said that, (that’s a Larry David reference) Sharon Jones feeling a little off, is like most musicians on the best day of their lives, so we’ll give her a pass.
She still gives 100%, there is no doubting that. The crowd at the Bowery responded to every move. In one surprising moment, they brought out Eric Kalb to sit in on drums. Kalb, an early childhood drumming hero, was part of Deep Banana Blackout, and was probably the first drummer I ever saw play in that ghost note shuffle style in person. It permanently changed me as a musician. I’ve heard he’s been playing with Charlie Hunter recently, as for the rest of Deep Banana, we don’t really know where they’ve gone…somewhere into the jam band ether. We wish them the best.
Homer Steinweiss, the regular Dap Kings Drummer, (who also seems to have a Food Blog) apparently is a lefty, something also discovered last night. The kit was set up semi backwards, playing the kick with his left foot, but still playing the hi hat with his right hand. Whatever, he’s allowed to do what he wants.
My favorite Dap Kings show still remains the Starland Ballroom, in the Middle Of Nowhere, South Jersey, during a snow storm. It’s always the unexpected ones that get you. Yes, the Bowery was a great show, they played with precision most bands can only dream of. But when the bar is set so incredibly high, you have to be held to that standard. I’ll give them a pass this time, you’ve earned it Sharon Jones.