Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings concert review

Last night I went to see Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at the Mainstage at City Hall as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. I went by subway. There were plenty of elevators. So no transportation issues and it's a lot quicker than waiting around for Wheel-Trans. Opening the show was the Toronto blues group called Blackburn. They just released their debut CD Brotherhood and are touring across Canada. The three Blackburn brothers grew up in the music business as their father Bobby Dean played organ at the Zanzibar Tavern for years. Lead singer and organist Duane Blackburn, guitarist Brooke Blackburn, drummer Cory Blackburn and family friend bassist Mark Ayee aren't trying to reinvent the wheel. They're into down and dirty blues. I would have liked to have heard Duane play electric piano in addition to organ and I could have lived without the voice altering device he used a couple of times. At least it wasn't an Auto Tune. Brooke is a very good guitarist and the band works well together. They perform original material mostly written by Brooke along with covers. They write about their own lives so they have potential to grow. I really enjoyed their cover of The Neville Brothers hit Sister Rosa that closed the set. That song is my favourite five minute history lesson. You can get Blackburn's music through MySpace or on iTunes. They were pretty good so I'll be keeping an eye on them.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings have become an unlikely sensation with their retro 60s soul sound that reminds me a lot of The Ike & Tina Turner Revue or The Stax/Volt Revue. Bass player and bandleader Bosco Mann (Gabriel Mann) has wisely put the focus on the dynamic Sharon Jones. There are no instrumental solos and no keyboard. It's all on Sharon. But she's waited a long time for this opportunity and she sure is making the most of it. In the encore, Sharon talked about how she was told she was too old twenty years ago. Now because a couple of nice Jewish boys like Mann and sax player Neal Sugarman saw something in her, Sharon is headlining. Of course like all great soul singers, Sharon grew up singing in church and she sings every song with the emotion she learned as a child. They performed songs from their hit album 100 Days 100 Nights, a song from their upcoming album, and Sharon even sang I Want You Back as a tribute to Michael Jackson. The band is tight and very well rehearsed but they adlib seamlessly when Sharon leads them in a different direction. Mr. Mann clearly knows what he wants from this band. I would recommend Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings to any soul fan. The show was very energetic and I'd like to see them again. The accompanying pic from the show is courtesy of Brian Sherman.

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