Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at the Wiltern

Sharon Jones had been singing in church choirs and wedding bands her whole life. She was in her forties when she tried out for a backup singing gig asking for 3 singers in the mid 90s, and told the producer "Why would you need 3 when you have me?" She proceeded to blow everyone away, and has been doing so ever since--on a much larger scale. Hitting her stride at 49, she had been told that she's too short, dark-skinned, and fat to make it. Boy were they wrong! This lady had been working as a prison guard on Rikers Island and drove a Wells Fargo truck in NYC, who is going to tell this lady no???

I love old blues, 40s/50s R&B, 60s soul, etc but you have to be happy with the old recordings most of the time. Her act is not to be missed! If you're into classic soul, funk and R&B, you'll love the songs, and her band is on top of it! They're from Brooklyn, flanked by other unreal NY soul/funk bands like the Budos Band and the Antibalas Afro-Beat orchestra. Sharon's set was a ripping 2 hour performance (I hear that the Budos band plays for upwards of 4!). The 12 member band is polished and stone-faced, focusing all the energy on Miss Lady. They record at Daptone records, using 8 tracks and original 60s equipment for that authentic vibe. I can't believe they've been around for 8 yrs and I hadn't heard about them. The songs send you straight into soul territory, her technique is completely gripping.

When you get to be the ripe old age of 35, hanging around some pretty hip people, you get to seeing a lot of great music. I've been really lucky to see some of the best music ever played. I've also seen some serious stinkers. It's rare when I hear music and think "Ohhhh, THIS is what music should sound like!!!!" It's rare to see really great soul singing these days, devoid of vocal acrobatics and ego. Sharon captures the spirit of the church and combines it with a groove that positively infectious, in the spirit of Ray Charles and Etta James.

It was Etta that brought us to Sharon in the first place, unexpectedly. My boyfriend John were on a long overdue trip to Jazz Fest 2009. I was SUPER psyched to see Etta James, however she was being pretty cranky with her stage help. I understand that she now has dementia and isn't peforming, so I'm grateful to have been able to catch one of her shows. I'm embarrassed to say that we walked away from Ms. James in search of alternatives, grazing on Indian fry bread, alligator gumbo, and oyster po boys...and found some seriously funky sounds which turned out to be Sharon and her band. It's easy to get overwhelmed at Jazz Fest as there are 13 stages of the best music you've ever heard, tons of wonderful folk art, and the food!!!! Unreal.

The Wiltern is one of Los Angeles' art deco gems, built in 1931 in the Zigzag Moderne style. It originally held 2,344 guests (now 1800) and had the largest pipe organ in the region at the time. It is beautifully restored and a total treat to visit! I am nuts for the tiled water fountains. Don't let anyone tell you LA has no architecture left.

I got to break out a wool homesewn 60s shift that I had bought way way back in my scooter days (like 8 yrs ago). I love the mod look! Here's my with my $14 beer (it is LA--thanks John!). After we had our minds completely shorn out of our heads, we hit our favorite local taco truck Tacozone for some meaty treats. Whenever we have friends from Europe visit they FREAK over the taco trucks! Why oh why hasn't Europe discovered tacos? So delicious, cheap and easy to make. I develop salsas at my part-time office job for a living, and still can't figure out how they make these so darned delicious.

I tried my darndest to upload some great video that we took on my little clothes picture camera, but my computer wasn't having it. In any case, check out this band when they come through town, they tour quite a bit!


  1. WOW! Epic! I've loved every single musician you've introduced me to, and this is no exception. Awesome. LOVE you in the Mod look, btw. I just do NOT show my knees much now (I'm 35 TOO!!)..but there's totally a Carnaby street Mod quadrophenia chick inside me somewhere too ;).

  2. Oh yay, I'm so glad you like them!! What endears her even beyond her talent is her go get 'em attitude, that you can do anything! Love it.

    Yes, isn't the mod stuff fun? You'd look great in these dresses, who are you kidding?! You look great in everything.

    Miss Bombshellshocked and I used to go up to Niagara for a big scooter rally every year hosted by the Toronto scooterists. She had her cute pink Vespa and I had a Quadrophenia style bike with all the lights and mirrors.. We had so much fun in those days! Thank God our livers lived through it, your Canadian beer is strong!!! I still love going to soul dj nights and dancing--it's so necessary sometimes.

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  4. Very nice, I particularly enjoyed the second song, if it's anything I like about the 60's than it would be this kind of sound. It's great to have contemporary artists who found its inspiration in it, like Duffy, and particularly Amy Winehouse, whose music I am a die hard fan.