Keeping up with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

A night of music electrifies U Street in Washington, D.C.

Most 57 year-old women cannot belt improvised vocals, dance the “Pony” and the “Mashed Potato” on stage, and bring hundreds of people to their feet while wearing a bright silver dress with black fringe. Even fewer can accomplish all these feats while battling pancreatic cancer.

But most 57 year-old women aren’t Sharon Jones. At the Lincoln Theater in Washington, D.C. last Tuesday evening, Jones and her backing band, the Dap-Kings, proved why she’s an exception to the rule.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings transmit a sound so reminiscent of 60s soul and blues music that it is hard to believe their first album was released this century. The concert mainly promoted the band’s most recent album “Give the People What They Want,” in addition to some classics from the 2007 album “100 Days, 100 Nights,” including “Tell Me.”

The encore included a bluesy rendition of “This Land is Your Land,” which had the entire audience on its feet. From beginning to end, the trumpets, saxophones, guitars, cymbals and bongos all created a jazz symphony, and no audience member could get up to go to the bathroom or the bar without tapping their toes or snapping their fingers.

Jones at one point kicked off her silver heels in order to dance and hop around the stage and, in her words, “get her groove on.” The word “spunk” has never so aptly applied to a singer. She brought audience members on the stage to dance and encouraged them to flaunt their funkiest moves. Jones could easily hold her own against legendary 60s vocalists like Aretha Franklin and Etta James.

The Dap-Kings were mesmerizing in their own right. The 11 members on stage worked with each other seamlessly to produce vibrant sound, improvise and even choreograph what they called “The Dap-Tone Shuffle.”

When Jones stopped in the middle of the song “Get Up” to sing-tell her story of beating cancer, the Dap-Kings flawlessly followed and responded to Jones’ jolting movements and body cues in order to produce the sound that she wanted. Dap-King Griptite was certainly not exaggerating when he introduced the show as “electrifying.”

Every University student would do well to see Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings when they perform at the Jefferson May 29. It is sure to produce the same exhilarating experience.

Published February 16, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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