Utne Blogs > Arts and Culture

The Soul of Our Times

by Staff


Tags: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Sharon Jones, Dap Kings, Modern Soul Music, Modern Funk,

Midway through a performance by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings that I attended last weekend, I turned to a friend and said, “They just don’t make music like this anymore.”

She looked up over her glasses and replied, “But, clearly, they do.”

The retro soul music of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings calls to mind the classic Motown performers of the ’60s and ’70s like Tammi Terrell and Laura Lee. Like many great soul singers, Jones grew up performing in church, and the gospel influence still shines through. And before she made it big, she briefly worked as a prison guard at Rikers Island, so she’s likely seen her share of the blues.

In concert, Jones and her veteran band exuded sheer energy. At one point, she took off her high-heeled shoes and earrings and danced with reckless abandon, her hair flying in all directions as she called out moves from the Mashed Potato to the Tighten Up. The band went to great lengths to include the sold-out crowd, inviting audience members onstage to dance and encouraging sing-alongs.

Sometimes slow and soulful, sometimes upbeat and funky, the show made me yearn for the bygone days of great R&B.

Check out the band in these recent videos from their Daptone Records label: