Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

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Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Group Shot by Jacob Blickenstaff.jpg
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Group Shot by Jacob Blickenstaff New York, NY - February 10, 2015
Background information
Origin Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres Funk, soul, R&B
Years active 1996–present
Labels Daptone
Associated acts Mark Ronson & The Business INTL, Antibalas, The Budos Band, Amy Winehouse
Members Sharon Jones
Binky Griptite
David Guy
Bosco Mann
Neal Sugarman
Joe Crispiano
Fernando Velez
Homer Steinweiss
Cochemea Gastelum
Hagar Ben Ari
Past members Leon Michels
Earl Maxton
Anda Szilagyi
Todd M. Simon
Thomas Brenneck
Ian Hendrickson-Smith

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are an American funk/soul band signed to Daptone Records. They are spearheads of a revivalist movement that aims to capture the essence of funk/soul music as it was at its height in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s. Part of the way this is achieved is to shun modern digital recording methods in favour of using traditional analog recording equipment. In December 2014, the band was nominated for their first Grammy, in the Best R&B Album of the Year category for Give the People What They Want.[1]

Desco: the early years

The original incarnation of the band, the Soul Providers, were formed in the mid-1990s by Philip Lehman and Gabriel Roth, AKA Bosco Mann. The Soul Providers began recording an album consisting of James Brown inspired instrumentals and vocal collaborations with Deep Funk recording artist Lee Fields. During these sessions Roth and Lehman discovered vocalist Sharon Jones after she recorded backing vocals for a Fields track. They were impressed enough to record a solo track with Jones entitled "Switchblade", a track that had originally been intended for a man to record. This track along with another Jones solo, "The Landlord", were included on the Soul Providers debut release Soul Tequila, released circa 1996 on the French label Pure Records (defunct). Lehman and Roth then started a new label in Brooklyn, New York. Desco Records was born taking its name from Desco Vacuum, a vacuum cleaner store in West 41st Street underneath which they utilized the basement as studio space and an office to administer and distribute the label. Sugarman 3 organist Adam Scone just happened to live upstairs in the same building. The Soul Tequila album was then reissued as a vinyl only LP renamed Gimme The Paw. The record, which featured Lehman's pet dog Spike on the cover, only kept one of the Sharon Jones collaborations, "Switchblade", omitting "The Landlord".[2]

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at the Moers Festival 2007

Having established a scene in New York of performers, Desco aimed to showcase a stable of artists with revue style shows and concentrated on releasing vinyl 45 records by a number of artists including Sugarman 3, The Daktaris, The Mighty Imperials, Naomi Davis & The Knights of 41st Street, Lee Fields, Joseph Henry and Sharon Jones, who backed by the Soul Providers who had become the Desco house band, released three 45's on the label. Desco Records were gaining intrigue and reputation for quality amongst soul/funk collectors and enthusiasts. Many people who bought the early records were unsure that they were modern recordings as recording dates were deliberately omitted from the labels and were often marketed as being released in the 1970s. Two other Soul Providers albums were released, an instrumental soundtrack to a mysterious Sam Lung Kung-Fu film, The Revenge Of Mr Mopoji, credited to Mike Jackson And The Soul Providers and a Lee Fields solo album Let's Get A Groove On where the Soul Providers provided the backing.

Daptone: a new label and the birth of the Dap-Kings

In 2000, due to a growing difference of opinion, Lehman and Roth decided to go separate ways and both set up new labels. Philip Lehman set up Soul Fire Records (now defunct, the back catalogue is handled by Truth & Soul Records). Gabriel Roth went on to start Daptone Records with Sugarman 3 saxophonist Neal Sugarman. The Soul Providers split and a new band, the Dap-Kings formed. The band consisted of label owners Roth, AKA Bosco Mann, on bass and Neal Sugarman on saxophone, plus original Soul Providers: guitarist Binky Griptite, organist Earl Maxton, percussionist Fernando Velez and trumpeter Anda Szilagyi. Joining them were original members of the Mighty Imperials whose album, Thunder Chicken, was the last release on the Desco label: tenor saxophonist Leon Michels and drummer Homer Steinweiss.

Having secured a summer residency at The Boite, a club in Barcelona, Spain, the band recorded an LP, Dap Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in 2001. A few hundred copies were pressed, so that sales during the residency would provide financial backing on what would have otherwise been a financially disastrous trip. With promotional copies reaching notable funk DJs and reviewers, the album gained a significant reputation and was officially released as the first LP and CD on Daptone Records in 2002 to universal acclaim amongst enthusiasts. In their review at the time, quarterly hip-hop and funk magazine Big Daddy (defunct) suggested that it might be the best new funk album ever, credited Roth with being "one of the best analogue producers there is" and stated "this LP is a major triumph and a new standard has been set".

Following the album, three 45s not included on the album were also released: "What If We all Stopped Paying Taxes", released in 2002 just ahead of the U.S. Election, was a militant anti-war statement denouncing the Iraq War. "Genuine (parts 1 & 2" (2004) was an uncompromisingly hard funk record which firmly kept the interest of enthusiasts. And their cover of "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)", released in 2005, was apparently recorded for a KFC commercial in 2002 but was never used.

Personnel changes

By this time there were a few personnel changes, as organist Earl Maxton and trumpeter Anda Szilagyi officially became members of Antibalas, a New York-based afrobeat band. Whilst Maxton was not replaced on organ, trumpeter David Guy was recruited on trumpet. Also from the Budos Band, Thomas Brenneck, a second guitarist was added. In 2003 the Daptone Recording Studio, complete with a sixteen track analogue tape machine was open for business. It was originally intended to record two albums back-to-back to speed up the next release process. However, during the final sessions of the first of these albums, Gabriel Roth suffered serious eye injuries in a car crash on his way home from the studio. This led to a break in the recording process and ultimately plans to limit the sessions to only one album. Their second LP and CD, Naturally, was then released in 2005. This album was a more broad-based album than the first (which almost completely consisted of funk numbers) and included a mix of both soul and funk influences. The sleeve notes, written by Gabriel Roth, provided some insight into the vision behind the music, "Somewhere between banging on logs and the invention of M.I.D.I. technology we have made a terrible wrong turn. We must have ridden right past our stop. We should have stepped down off the train at that moment when rhythm and harmony and technology all culminated to a single Otis Redding whine. That moment of the truest, most genuine expression of what it means to be human." The production and recording values of this album were also noticeably crisper than that of the first - attaining a sound similar to the kind of production standard achieved by James Brown at his height, rather than the slightly duller "scratchy 45" sound of the original album. With, again, international acclaim amongst enthusiasts and a steadily growing base of both fans and now imitators, the band embarked on more extensive international tours and promotion of the album.

Leon Michels left the band soon after the release of Naturally to help start a new label, Truth & Soul Records, on the back of a solo LP that was originally intended to be released on Daptone, Sounding Out The City, credited to El Michels Affair. The label also filled the void left when Philip Lehman closed the Soul Fire label and moved to the Bahamas, leaving the scene altogether. The back catalogue of Soul Fire was then handled by Truth & Soul Records who, along with Soul Fire often used many of the same artists in their stable, such as Lee Fields, Homer Steinweiss and Thomas Brenneck but of whom Leon Michels had been the biggest collaborator. Michels replacement in the Dap-kings came as Ian Hendrickson-Smith, a local saxophone player who has released several jazz albums under his own name.


The Dap-Kings were then hired as session musicians on a number of projects associated with New York-based DJ/producer/recording artist Mark Ronson. Most notable of these is their extensive contribution to Amy Winehouse's album Back to Black (2006). Six of the album's eleven tracks feature various members of the Dap-Kings with two notable hits from the album, "Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good", extensively featuring the Dap-Kings. A further engineering credit goes to Gabriel Roth and several tracks recorded at Daptone Studios are mis-credited as "Dapking Studios". Again various members of the band feature on Ronson's second album, Version (2007), providing contributions on all but one of the album's fourteen tracks. The Dap-Kings then became the backing band used on Amy Winehouse's first U.S. tour.[3]

In 2007 the Dap-Kings worked with British singer Ben Westbeech to record a new version of his song "So Good Today"; it was released to mark the first anniversary of Brownswood recordings, the label Westbeech is signed to in the UK. Sharon Jones lends her vocals on one song "The Way We Lived", on Wax Tailor's second album Hope & Sorrow, released in April 2007. Sharon Jones is also featured on releases by They Might Be Giants (The Else) and Rufus Wainright (Release the Stars).

Jones recently contributed six period numbers by Bessie Smith and others to the soundtrack for the film The Great Debaters, recorded in the legendary Ardent Studio in Memphis. Jones is also a featured on the Verve Records Baby Loves Jazz books/CDs and has even had her own character books published by Penguin Books in conjunction with the series, entitled Ella the Elephant: Scats Like That.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are featured on Michael Bublé's 2009 album, Crazy Love, in the track "Baby (You've got what it takes)".[4] In the fall of 2009 Sharon Jones and David Guy appeared with Phish for their musical costume at Phish's Festival 8 in Indio California, where they covered The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St..

The Dap-Kings horn section backed The Heavy in a January 18, 2010 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.[5]

The Dap-Kings appear on the 2012 David Byrne and St. Vincent collaboration Love This Giant. Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinwess appears on St. Vincent's self-titled fifth album.

In October 2012, the Dap-Kings horn section also appeared with Muse on Saturday Night Live, providing support during their performance of Panic Station.[6]

In 2014, The Dap-Kings horn section collaborated with the Antibalas horn section, Mark Ronson, and Bruno Mars to record Uptown Funk and other tracks off of Mark Ronson's 2015 album Uptown Special. They also performed Uptown Funk together on Saturday Night Live in November 2014.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

100 Days, 100 Nights

In late 2006, the band recorded a third studio album, entitled 100 Days, 100 Nights. It was released on October 2, 2007. A non-album single, "I'm Not Gonna Cry", was released in April 2007 and featured the same uncompromised funk style of the earlier single, "Genuine". The album also includes two B Sides or Bonus Tracks: "Settlin' In" and "The Collection Song".

Use in advertisements

In 2006, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings were featured in an I Love NY commercial directed by Kurt Lustgarten and set to their cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land". The band's cover of Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" appeared in a Chase Manhattan Bank commercial that same year. In Australia, their song "Got a Thing on my Mind" featured in a 2005 commercial for Cadbury's Boost Chocolate bar.

In 2008 Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings worked with Tropicana on a song inspired by Tropicana orange juice, titled "Sweet & Lovely." Ziggy Marley and Bebel Gilberto were featured in similar projects.

In 2015, the song 100 Days, 100 Nights was used in a FitBit commercial.


Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land", from the album Naturally, plays over the opening credits of the 2009 film, Up in the Air. The song is also the first track on the Up in the Air soundtrack album.[14][15]

The same cover plays over the end credits of both the 2007 film Dark Matter (film) and the How to Make It in America episode "Paper, Denim + Dollars."

"How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?" was featured in the first season for the television series Hung and included on the soundtrack album

"Longer And Stronger", a previously unreleased track, also made an appearance on the For Colored Girls: Music From and Inspired by the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack in 2010.

"Money", "The Reason", and "Keep On Looking" are used in the video game Sleeping Dogs, which was released in August 2012. The songs can be heard on an in-game radio station called "Daptone Radio".

In the 2011 movie "Henry's Crime" starring Keanu Reeves and Vera Farmiga, songs by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are featured: "Answer Me," "100 Days 100 Nights," "Got a Thing On My Mind," "Stranded in Your Love," "Be Easy," and "Let Them Knock."




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External links