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Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: The best party in town

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in concert

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Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings brought their show to Tucson’s Rialto Theatre Mar 20, 2014 after postponing the show last year due to Sharon’s illness. This was much more than a musical set. It was a huge party and before the night was over, everyone was invited to participate! The audience had been anxiously awaiting this show for a long time and they were rowdy from the time Sharon walked on the stage.

Sharon Jones is back!
©Mary F. Andrews

The show typically starts with a warm up from the dapper Dap-Kings and the background singers, the Dapettes, (Starr Duncan and Saundra Williams). The Dap Kings are: Binkey Griptite (lead guitar), David Guy (Trumpet), Bosco Mann (bass), Neal Sugarman (saxophone), Joe Crispiano (guitar), Fernando Velez (percussion), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Cochmea Gastelum (saxophone), and Hagar Ben Ari (bass). The Dap-Kings backed Amy Winehouse up in the studio for her classic album, “Back To Black” and the follow up tour in 2007. The band is as tight as any band in show business and the back-up singers are great singers in their own right!

Binkey Griptite introduced Sharon Jones and the audience transformed into a two-hour flash mob. Sharon was the ecstatic leader! The pancreatic cancer that temporarily removed Jones from performing last year is barely behind her. Her last chemo treatment was only two months ago. She looks GREAT! Her hair is closely cropped to her head, which actually accentuates her classic beauty. She’s lost a few pounds but not too much. She actually looks healthier than before her illness. Above all, her energy seems to be boundless.

She had a constant rapport with the audience during the show. She invited a young fan on stage within the first two songs and had him dance with her. He was thrilled to say the least. She had an inebriated man removed when he was giving two young ladies unwanted attention. “You don’t think I can see what goes on out there, but I can see everything. And this is a time for fun!”

The first third of the show Sharon’s movements did not seem as frentic as typically seen in the past. But within 30 minutes, she was dancing those1960s classic dances such as the Boogaloo, the Pony, the Mashed Potato, the Twist and the Funky Chicken to name a few. From then on there was no stopping the “female James Brown.”

She introduced her song ”Better Things To Do” by saying they were changing it up by “singing it soft and slow. But I’m like Tina Turner. I don’t do anything soft and slow. Sure enough after a couple of bars, the song was like a tent revival! “The reason I shout is because I have something to shout about! I said to that cancer, get up and get out!” At one point she kicked her shoes off and continued to dance! From there she went straight into “100 Days and 100 Nights.”

The encore consisted of the band inviting a significant portion of the audience on stage to dance. Once the dancing started, Sharon returned to the stage to dance with everyone. The last song was “This Land is Your Land.” This is a version that would make Pete Seeger smile.

Sharon and the Dap-Kings went to the lobby and met with everyone until the last person left. Her message after the show was “I don’t want pity. I don’t want anyone’s pity. This is about life and love!” Amen sister!