The Dap-Kings are the house band for Brooklyn-based Daptone Records, and the combustible eight-piece bills itself as the "world's mightiest live funk and soul revue." All you have to do is glance at the names (no doubt more than a couple of them noms de soul) on the Dap-Kings' roll--Homer "Funky-Foot" Jenkins on drums, bandleader Bosco "Bass" Mann on bass, and Otis Youngblood on baritone sax, for starters--and you can feel the hard funk vibrating your fillings. Now put them behind church-schooled belter Sharon Jones, a product of James Brown's hometown of Augusta, Ga., and you've got yourself a stick of soul dynamite with a short fuse.
The collaboration between Ms. Jones and the Dap-Kings began in the late '90s when the Dap-Kings were known as the Soul Providers recording for the Desco label. "An ex-fiance of mine was playing saxophone with them, and they needed a singer to do backgrounding for Lee Fields (another Desco/Daptones artist)," Jones explains. "I came in, and we just clicked."
That's an understatement. On Dap-Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Daptone's first full-length release after a fistful of primo 45s, Jones and the band sizzle, quake, and stomp. Anything as wimpy as a click is well buried under layers of stutter-stepping guitars and staccato horns, topped off by Jones' gospel-funk vocals; it's the righteous sound of sweat earned the old-fashioned way. The vibe is pure chitlin circuit (on which the Durham Armory was a favored stop). Even the album's cover shot and the mapped-out dance steps inside nail the feel of a time and place some 30 or 40 years past. Amazingly, with the exception of Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done for Me Lately?", which Jones makes her own (prompting an excited e-mail from a Sharon Jones fan about how Jackson had done a Jones cover), all the songs are originals written and arranged by Mann.
As hot as the record is, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are known for their live show. "Oh man, just a bunch of energy. Good groove, good sound," Jones says when asked what the crowd can expect from a Daptone Records revue. "The guys in the band really get into it. It comes from the heart, you know? And I've always felt that what comes from the heart, reaches the heart."
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings play Saturday, May 8 at Local 506 with DJ Marco and May 9 at Kings Barcade with Masadi Music.