This week I had planned to bring you some more pictures from my U.S. Tour but events on Friday night/Saturday morning put paid to that with the news filtering through of the passing of Sharon Jones at the age of 60.
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this tribute as it’s something I hoped I wouldn’t have to do, especially not for a long time anyway given Sharon’s young age. Even though I knew that the cancer that Sharon was diagnosed with back in 2013 had returned, like many of you I hoped and believed this strong woman with her indomitable spirit would prevail for a second time. Sadly it wasn’t to be as she slipped away on Friday surrounded by her family and most of the Dap-Kings.
So today rather than feeling sad, I’d like to remember her for her amazing ability, not just as a performer but as a person who lit up any room she entered and always remained happy and positive no what matter the circumstances. She leaves an enduring legacy that won’t have failed to connect with any fan of funk or soul music and a catalogue of songs that ensures her place in the pantheon of the all time great soul artists.
My first introduction to the world of Sharon Jones (and her Dap-Kings) came way back in 2002 with the uber funky “Pick It Up Lay It In The Cut”. This track had everything I was looking for at the time with a fantastic beat, groovy guitar and a horn section coming together to evoke the sound of The J.B.’s. I have to admit – at that time, I didn’t actually realise that what I was listening to came from a modern band – the sound was so true to the 70s funk style that I was starting to immerse myself in that I just assumed that it was from some obscure act from that time.
Shortly after that (maybe a year or so) I heard another of the band’s songs – their groovy take on Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” (a record that we have previously featured here on Gazfunk.) I remembered that this was the same artist who recorded “Pick It Up Lay It In The Cut” and so I set out to find out more about the band. To my surprise I found that they weren’t some obscure 70s funk outfit, but indeed a modern day band from Brooklyn who started out in 1996 as The Soul Providers (releasing a series of singles on the now defunkt Desco label) before joining forces with The Mighty Imperials to create the Dap-Kings, the house band on the new Daptone label.
I quickly bought both singles that I had heard and over the next decade or so bought most of the band’s single and album releases and spent a lot of time extoling the virtues of Sharon and the band as well as regularly dropping some of the 45s into my dj sets.
With the group being from New York and me living in Belfast, opportunities were few and far between for me to catch one of their legendary live shows until 2014 when they appeared at the Roundhouse in Camden. Finally a near decade long ambition had been fulfilled!! I was able to catch the band a couple of times after that and despite her illness, Sharon always performed like the true professional that she was.
So the record I’m going to feature for you today (it really could be any one of a dozen or more) was something that was only given away to a limited number of people who bought a special pack of the “Give The People What They Want” LP. The track is called “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” and perhaps is a fitting tribute to a supremely talented lady who never quite enjoyed the success she deserved. R.I.P. Sharon and deepest condolences to your family, friends and the Daptone family. X