Sharon Jones | 05.09 | DC

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Words by: Josh Klemons | Images by: Gretchen Murphy

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings :: 05.09.09 :: 9:30 Club :: Washington, DC

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings :: 05.09 :: DC
The Dap-Kings are the house band for Daptone Records. They are eight guys, dressed in suits and ties, and always ready to go. With two guitars, three horns, a bassist, a drummer and a percussionist, they have a full sound and they play nasty ’70s funk. They took the stage first and played some instrumental pieces, clearly warm-up for the night that was to come. This was an evening show, and their second sold out night of the weekend. While it may have been evening outside, you could never have guessed it from inside Washington, DC’s 9:30 Club, which was rumbling like a late night set at Bonnaroo. By the time Sharon Jones actually took to the stage, the place was tearing at the seams.

If someone told me that Sharon Jones stood a quarter of an inch beyond 4′ 10″ I would consider calling them a liar. She is not built like a supermodel and she does not carry herself like a movie star, but man, give her a microphone or some room to dance and watch out! Her presence fills the room like liquid, rumbles the liquor bottles behind the bar and shakes the light fixtures overhead. She pulls people out of the crowd to come and dance with her onstage. She brought men up to sing to and women up to Rockette beside her. On more than one occasion throughout the evening I heard someone conjure up Tina Turner, but with a bigger smile and warmer heart, as the only real way to explain what we were witnessing.

Sharon Jones sings, dances and tells stories. She never stops moving and makes you rethink the necessity of oxygen for the system. Even between songs she was moving and shaking and jumping up and down. She never stopped for breath throughout her two-hour set, and yet she never missed a beat vocally. She was always on top of the song, ready to call out to the audience and bring them into her night.

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings :: 05.09 :: DC
At one point, the audience was asked how many had been at the show the night before and some people put their hands up and yelled. Then they were asked how many were seeing Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings for the first time. The sound was deafening. Sharon Jones and her funky, funky band may be conjuring up the past, but they clearly have a bright future ahead of them. Towards the end of the set, she told a story about being rejected by Sony Records. In not so many words, they let her know that she did not have that star quality that they looked for in an act. Well, thank god for Daptone Records’ ability to see through the superficial surface and into the massive inner talents living inside Sharon Jones.

At the end of the evening, she took off her high heels and let us know she was going to get back to her roots. She told us that her roots started in West Africa. They were greatly troubled by the white man taking their brothers and sisters, and so they did a peace dance. And she showed us what a West African peace dance looked like. But her story does not end there. No, when her West African ancestors got off the boat in the New World, they met some of her other ancestors, the Native Americans, who were being pushed off of their land by the white man, and they also had a peace dance. She then showed us what a Native American peace dance looked like. Both of these demonstrations could have been from an anthropologist’s handbook. They immediately brought up images of a past that most of us have scant knowledge of. But what she did next was all her own and was truly indescribable. She informed us that her ancestry continued to evolve within her. She took her West African peace dance and her Native American peace dance and she merged them together. She did a dance that is all Sharon Jones. And like her dance, this girl is one of a kind. She is a 4′ 10″ ball of energy and light. She is a diva in her own right. Belting through funk and gospel, soul and R&B, Sharon Jones is an experience that must be seen and felt to be understood.

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings tour dates available here.

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