Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dap Mania Hits Cradle


It's been a few years since I last saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. The show hasn't changed much, but her stature as a crossover phenom has: Sharon's been all over the late night talk shows, mainstream R&B radio and The Apollo Theater in recent days. I'm happy to be paying out a little more if it keeps Miss Jones in sequins and fringe. That lady is a short stack of dynamite, and I, like so many others who caught Dap fever at the Cradle last night, refuse to maintain a safe distance.

Miss Jones

Miss Jones

Miss Jones

Still, I'm a little wistful for the days when you could just walk up and pay your money. A capacity crowd at the Cradle is a little frightening to tell the truth, a lot like a packed flight. Sure, there IS a bathroom, if you can get to it. Mostly, it just wasn't worth it to move around except in place.

You could move around on stage, however, if you were lucky enough to be handpicked from the crowd. The former corrections officer Jones kept order among the more boisterous volunteers, including a wannabe Isadora Duncan, mouthing "WTF!" to the crowd behind the ballerina's back. A really nice young man named Chauncey caught special favor by giving Sharon the Oshun treatment with a large Spanish fan. This, this, was appropriate homage for the Queen of Dap, and as due reward, she tapped him on each shoulder with the fan; arise, Sir Chauncey, Knight of the Dap Kingdom.

Here's another lucky fellow, laying claim to the Americas with Sharon on an adamant, "This Land is Your Land":

Opening act Fitz and the Tantrums was a perfect fit, with a 60s Motownish retro sound that was light, uptight and all right. It was kind of like The Killers with addition of a young Diana Ross/Martha Reeves. Female vocalist Noelle Scaggs told me afterwards she has followed Sharon for years, so it's a thrill to be opening for her.

Scaggs is also a tambourine virtuoso, and I say that with highest admiration. Sharon brought her out for the encore, which started with a bari sax solo-led rendition of "I'll Be There." Here's ten minutes of it, including band role call for the Dap Kings:

I bought Sharon's two most recent albums, to complete my 4-vinyl set, and stayed until the throngs dispersed to get them signed. I saw sick piles of money being counted behind the merch table as they were closing out for the night.

Godspeed, Miss Jones. Thank you for stopping in our town.

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