Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings have a sound on loan from the heart of the ’60s. It is a brassy inner-city soul/funk flavored by the Civil Rights movement and the church, a sound that was popular a good decade before the coming of Shaft and the bass-thumping soul of the blaxploitation era. Forty years ago, soul was a sexy, igneous mess of horns with drums, bass, and organ and a blistering voice sitting on top of that big happy sound. It is a vibe that the Dap-Kings seem to channel. Jones has been called Soul Sister Number One or the Queen of Funk (she rejected Queen of Soul; that belongs to Aretha Franklin, she told a reporter). Jones may be the hardest-working woman in show business, and there is nothing put-on about her badness — for a time, she held a day job as a prison guard in New York.
Sharon Jones is in her early 50s. She is a native of Georgia, resides in Brooklyn, and came up through the vocal ranks in the usual way by singing in the church and at talent shows. Slow at first to catch in the U.S., she and the Dap-Kings took off in Britain at the end of the ’90s. There was a big soul revival going on there then. Little surprise that the Dap-Kings were tapped by Amy Winehouse, the British blue-eyed soul star whose own eerie self-destruction is at least as interesting as is her music. The Kings lent muscle to Winehouse’s Back to Black, and they supported her on tour.
Sharon and the band have three CDs out. Compare the simple power of original street-level soul to the overemoted saccharine of the boy bands of today, and you’ll hear how times have changed.
SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS, 4th & B, Friday, January 23, 8 p.m. 619-231-4343. $25.