G:TB silent reader Juan Carlos and I headed uptown to catch SJDK at the (surprisingly small) Apollo on Saturday. As Ice Cube would put it, they tore that mothafucka up. I was completely unprepared for their energy and musicianship. Here's a brief sample of Saturday's show:
This wasn't a fluke. Here's some of what they did the night before:
Sharon Jones claimed to be four-foot-eleven, making her the little guy here today. The Dap-Kings towered behind her, 15 musicians strong. Not a typo. She had a 15-piece band including Neal Sugarman of the Sugarman 3 on tenor sax and hypeman/guitarist Binky Griptite, yes, that Binky Griptite, as in Binky Griptite's Ghetto Funk Power Hour. She also had a four-piece string section, a bongo/congo player, and a timpanist. On top of that she had three backup singers. So 19 people groovin on stage. Jones said she's 54 years old but she sang and danced her ass off for two hours straight.
According to a recent NYT interview, Jones attributes her on-stage energy to her pre-show ritual:
Q. What do you do to prepare to go onstage? You consistently have such amazing energy.
SHARON JONES Right before the stage I’m into a little Jameson.
NEAL SUGARMAN [making the sign for a joint] And a little something to smoke.
JONES Don’t write that! Not much. I can’t do that too much. I don’t want to go out there, like, are my eyes all red?
You're probably nodding your head in approval. Jones was a prison guard at Rikers Island before her music career took off. Then she was a backup singer for Lee Fields. Now she's appearing in theaters near you. So mark your calendars:
Richmond May 6
Norfolk May 9
Boston May 27 (looking at you Dooger)
Elmer NJ June 5
SJDK are on now my list of acts to see every time they're in town. If you check them out they'll probably end up on yours as well.
Tangentially, I bummed a cigarette off a Swedish tourist after the show and I told him that I saw "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and I asked if Sweden's really that messed up and he said "No" but I'm not sure I believe him, he's probably biased.
Even more tangentially, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is very much on my list of acts to ignore. I saw them last month in Boston and they were either too banged up from their previous night in Toronto, bitter about the 6:30 start time, over-produced and not that talented, or some combination of the foregoing. Save your money and stick with their studio stuff.