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Issue 1084

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Feature

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES

Sharon Jones
Sharon Jones

Iâve known Sharon for quite a few years now, but even so, with such a tight and hectic tour schedule with her band âSharon Jones And The Dapkingsâ) Iâd heard that she was exhausted and, frankly, a little tired of being interviewed.

After a friendly reacquaintence, after the soundcheck of the first of three sell-out nights at Londonâs Jazz Cafà we went off the dressing-room to discuss the latest album â100 Daysâ and she was on great form â firing off enthusiastic answers like it was her first interview.

SB: Just to quickly clarify things: Youâre from Augusta originally and moved to the Bronx , you did sessions on many 70âs Disco records.

SJ: Nothing major. Later I did vocals for an album by Big Daddy Kane and loads of other records that I didnât get credited on.

SB: How did you get involved with the Desco/Daptone record labels?

SJ: My ex was one of the horn players in The Daktaris (an Afro Funk band on Desco) and they wanted Lee Fields to sing on a 45 called âSwitchbladeâ which I did the backing vocals on. I did all his other tracks too. If you hear a womans voice, thatâs me. I could improvise too, which is how I came up with the lyric on âDamn Itâs Hotâ just like that â because it was hot in the studio. Gabe writes all the songs but I breath the life in to them. He knows what heâs doing. I just pray we stay together, he puts so much into it. We all put so much into it.

SB: How long has the album been out now?

SJ: Eight months.

SB: Have you been touring it constantly?

SJ: Yes. It started with the Harlem Apollo and then straight to Australia and everywhere. Itâs tough. Gig, gig, gig. Itâs getting good. I suppose although heâs not responsible for the scene it helps that a young crowd are listening to Mark Ronson (The Dapkings are on his and Amy Winehouses albums) and got in to a more funky sound through him? Yes, well they say weâre underground but weâre not. Weâre just not mainstream. Our music is accessible.

SB: Your music has gone way beyond the Funk scene though hasnât it. I mean, if I can use the US as an example: you have artists like Eli âPaperboyâ Reed and (the UKâs) James Hunter singing early 60âs Soul and R&B to great success â gigging every night playing to people that just love good music of whatever style.

SJ: Yes, we play lotâs of festivals â all kinds. Weâre doing one in Europe soon with Chaka Khan and Angie Stone. I hope I meet Chaka.

SB: She should be honoured to meet you!

SJ: I went to see Mavis Staples in Australia and she said, âIâd like to welcome Sharon Jonesâ and she got me up on stage. Solomon Burke did that to me a few years ago too, in Germany. We sang Nat King Coleâs âWonderful Worldâ. Iâve sang with Booker T And The M.Gâs, Lou Reed, Ben E King... Itâs great that all these people that you admire, admire you⦠Denzil Washington, Oprah Winfrey know me... Iâm in a movie with six songs on the soundtrack too, on Atlantic Records. Itâs hard to do other stuff though because we tour so much.

SB: This album is a lot more Soul and R&B. Was that a conscious decision?

SJ: Yes. Gabe Roth (band-leader and âDaptoneâ label owner) said he wanted it to be more like a 60âs Stax or Motown album. â100 Daysâ nearly never made the album...

SB: What? That track is unbelievable!

SJ: They couldnât decide whether to play it fast or slow and it ended up as both.

SB: When are you going to record the next album?

SJ: When the touring slows down. Weâve got loads of songs already. Weâll be doing a bit of Gospel stuff, ballads, all kinds of things.
Words SNOWBOY

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