Sharon Jones: Queen of Funk

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

The Warfield

San Francisco, CA

January 28, 2009

Guest contributor:

Brian Griset, Senior Funk Correspondent

Sharon Jones: Queen of Funk

Anyone who has experienced Sharon Jones live will understand why she has been dubbed the Queen of Funk. Sharon and her band, the Dap-Kings, are steeped in the high-energy, air-tight, horn-heavy Motown sound that previously propelled James Brown into his global role as the godfather of soul. In fact, Sharon was born in Brown's hometown of Augusta, GA, and as a child, she and her brothers would often imitate the singing and dancing of James Brown. She and the Dap Kings also seem to have adopted his tireless approach to endless touring. On January 28, I had the opportunity to experience Sharon and the Dap Kings at the Warfield in San Francisco – together they R-O-C-K-E-D!

After a rousing and unlikely opening set of festive Balkan music by Ivan Milev, a Bulgarian accordion master, Sharon Jones took the stage. Sharon is a force of nature: she stirred my soul, dazzled my ears and fed the beat to my feet. I danced nonstop - once I slipped a sawbuck to a Warfield hall-monitor in order to get on the floor. Once Sharon started, I could not be stuck in the balcony where my need to groove could not find the required space.

Of course, living in the digital age, some cuts from this show are already on The YouTube including some of the highlights like Sharon’s version of “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Sharon shared some new music that I really like. "Let Them Knock" was amazing in concert and another favorite song of mine to check out is "Just Dropped In (My Condition)." One highlight of the Warfield show was when Sharon brought on-stage a 12 year-old kid who almost stole the show with his few minutes of fame.

While it is easy to hear the influences of James Brown, Otis Redding and Ike & Tina Turner, Sharon delivers her own blend of funk and soul. She pours her energy into the audience in an incredible mix of throw your hands in the air, shake that tail-feather and let the worries of the world melt away.

Sharon moved to NYC when still young and frequently entered talent shows backed by local funk bands while working as a corrections officer at Rikers Island and as an armored car guard for Wells Fargo. In 1996, she got her big break after she appeared in a session backing soul and funk legend Lee Fields. Her first three CDs, Dap Dippin' With Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, Naturally and 100 Days, 100 Nights all received great critical acclaim. Now, Sharon and the Dap Kings have a busy international touring schedule. During a recent break from Sharon, the Dap Kings backed Amy Winehouse for a brief tour, but job security is probably better with Sharon Jones.

No matter if you are a jazz purist or a classic rock and roller, I guarantee that the next time Sharon Jones comes around, you will be entertained. Go out and get some of her music so you can enjoy the force of nature in your own living room and when she lands in your city- Go see her!