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Days Like This: Sharon Jones and the Dapkings

Written by Daniel Clarke on December 18, 2008

The soul dripping from her lips, she takes another sip of her bourbon as I ask her what to expect from her upcoming gigs. Casually, she relates her desire to “just get up there and hopefully give y’all a great show.”

She is Sharon Jones, and she carries herself with a classic elegance, time has not wearied her, as they say. The burden is always on her, to keep things interesting, new.

“Each year the pressure is on you to do something different. I have a part in my show where I talk about my ancestors. I usually do that to a song from the first album, Work it Out. Maybe this year I might just figure out a way to put it out there, still talk about my ancestors, do the thing but with different music. Just a little difference going around. But then again a lot of people still haven’t even seen my old show.”

I light a cigarette. Exhaling slowly, I break the news that I haven’t actually seen her perform. She looks somewhat surprised. All I’d heard was that they were some pretty wild times. People would tell stories of admirers rising to the stage and dancing alongside her.

“I just pick people out of the audience who look like they want to dance. Some people are petrified, some people don’t and some times I get some crazy ones. Couple of times they’ve been too drunk.”

“Some of them jump on the stage and I have to sit ’em down, you know, let ’em know this is my stage. But it’s fun.”

There is a knowing touch to her words. She has a kind of comforting wisdom that I just can’t escape. What does a woman like this do in her downtime?

“My downtime really was for me to catch up on doctor’s appointments, getting scared half to death. It’s scary you know. I’m fifty two, and all these things start happening. I have to get myself checked. Yeah, so that’s what I’m going through now. I thought that I would have these weeks off, just relax, but no I’ve been running between doctors and we’ve also been rehearsing.”

Inevitability has plenty of time to wait. She isn’t distracted. She’s always working on something else. She keeps herself going.  “When me and the Dap Kings aren’t doin’ our funk stuff, I’m doin’ some other stuff.”

“I wanna make sure I’m in good health. I’m even going to the gym, I’ve got me a personal trainer so I’m tryin’ to get my body together.”

An old Gladys Knight song starts playing on the jukebox in the corner. Smoke curls towards the roof. I take another drag and listen.

“We’re working on new songs for the album. And some of the songs will probably get thrown in while we’re on the road. I’ve got other projects. We’re doing something with some rapper, Doctor Dre or somethin’.” She palms the words off as if they mean little. It’s all in a days work for Sharon Jones.

“And Michael Buble. He came to DapTone studios and I did a duet with him.” She struggles for a moment for the tune, then starts to sing a Diana Washington number. “You Got What It Takes. I did that with him and also a Marvin Gaye song.”

I seem to remember reading in the local rags that the Dap Kings performed on most of that Whine-house album too. There’s no slowing down for this one.

“You know, everybody’s having their babies and doing their things and they wanna stay home. You know, I’ve gotta keep going. I’m getting’ old here. I keep tellin’ ’em I can’t afford to be home two or three months. I can afford to be off a few weeks, but any more than that I gotta work.”

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