music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Sharon Jones

January 19, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



While funk and soul have seen a resurgence recently, and the genres continue to be heavily embraced in the jam community , there are some artists that have truly stood out. One such artist was Sharon Jones. For the past 2 decades she has been a leader in pushing soul, funk, and gospel forward. Despite not starting to record until she was 40, Jones quickly rose up to be one of the most respected and loved musicians in modern soul, funk, and R&B.

Jones grew up singing in the church and often looked at singing as an enjoyable hobby. She occasionally worked as a session singer and earned extra money singing in wedding bands, but she was not able to secure a recording contract of her own, and she wasn’t interested in fighting her way into the industry. By the late 90’s she wsa working as a prison guard. She had the opportunity to record some background vocals for a project that Gabriel Roth was working on. One session turned into multiple sessions, and, when that project ended and Roth was looking to make his next move, he wanted Jones to be at the head of it.

Roth brought together a backing band for and christened them “The Dap-Kings.” They recorded Dip Dappin’ with Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings and sold albums out of a basement. With no label support, Roth and Jones built their own label, Daptone Records. Dip Dappin’ spread through the funk and soul community like wildfire, and that album built both a record label and a full-time music career for Jones.

While Jones’ studio work was impressive, it was her live performances that really put her and the Dap-Kings on the map. Jones was energetic, charismatic, and she worked tirelessly to make a connection with her audience. On top of that, she truly loved being on stage, calling it “the only job (she) ever wanted to do.” While she was initially labelled as “The Female James Brown,” she soon moved even beyond that high praise, cutting out a path of her own and endearing herself to fans around the country. Naturally was released in 2005, and the album proved that Jones was no one-shot wonder. She and her band kept up their enthusiastic pace, recording, performing, and building a solid career.

The next few years saw the Dap-Kings move from clubs into large theatres and Jones move from an up-and-comer into a true force. She was a sought-after collaborator, a musical powerhouse, and even a burgeoning actress. 100 Days, 100 Nights saw the band hit the Billboard charts and was listed as the #9 album of the decade by Rhapsody. 2010’s I Learned The Hard Way hit #15 on the US charts, and the only real criticism of the album was that it was a representative of the past as opposed to a new style. While Jones’ style certainly was a throwback to an earlier era, it had rarely been done as well as Jones and her band did it.

In 2012 the band began work on another album. However, in May of 2013, Jones was diagnosed with cancer, which led to Jones immediately having surgery and beginning treatment. Throughout her treatment, she continued to perform when her health allowed, refusing to wear a wig to hide the effects of chemotherapy. While going through treatment, Barbara Kopple approached Jones about filming a documentary. Jones initially balked at the request, but quickly agreed when Kopple made it clear that this was not about a “reality television” attention grab and more as a way to explore and preserve Jones’ legacy. Jones cancer went into remission during the filming, and the album Give The People What They Want was released in 2014.

The documentary Miss Sharon Jones! was released in 2015. At the release, Jones announced that her cancer had returned and she would be resuming treatment. Amazingly, Jones continued to perform through her treatment, saying that while on stage “There is no cancer, there is no sickness.” Jones continued to perform regularly in 2015 and 2016 while undergoing regular treatment.

In November 2016, Jones suffered two strokes as a result of her cancer. Unfortunately, she was unable to recover and passed away shortly thereafter, with members of her family and the Dap-Kings at her side. Her band members said that she wanted to be singing until the point she was no longer able to. Since her passing, the Dap-Kings have performed in her honor, and artists have spoken at length to her talent, influence, and how wonderful of a person she was both on and off stage.

Jones was an amazing musician who got her start too late and was taken from the world too soon. Despite a relatively short career she will be remembered as an icon of modern soul music, a woman who succeeded despite being denied early opportunities due to being labelled as “too short, too fat, too black, and too old.” It’s truly a loss that so many people will have missed out on the opportunity to see this amazing woman perform.



Bob Weir & Wolf Brothers announce tour
Bob Weir’s new project announced a headlining tour. The trio will hit the road at the end of February and be out through all of March.

Feb. 28 – State Theatre – Ithaca, NY
March 1 – John M. Greene Auditorium – Northampton, MA
March 2 – The Oakdale Theater – Wallingford, CT
March 4 – Ohio City Masonic Temple – Cleveland, OH
March 5 – The Fillmore – Detroit, MI
March 6 – Taft Theatre – Cincinnati, OH
March 8 – Metropolitan Opera House – Philadelphia, PA
March 9 – State Theatre – Portland, ME
March 13 – Count Basie Theatre – Red Bank, NJ
March 14 – Count Basie Theatre – Red Bank, NJ
March 15 – Shea’s Performing Arts Center – Buffalo, NY
March 19 – Palace Theatre – St. Paul, MN
March 20 – Riverside Theater – Milwaukee, WI
March 21 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO
March 23 – Bass Concert Hall – Austin, TX
March 24 – The Fillmore – New Orleans, LA
March 26 – Fillmore Miami @ Jackie Gleason Theatre – Miami, FL
March 27 – Florida Theatre – Jacksonville, FL
March 29 – Tivoli Theater – Chattanooga, TN
March 30 – North Charleston Performing Arts Center – Charleston, SC
May 3 – BeachLife Festival – Redondo Beach, CA

Infamous Stringdusters announce album
The Infamous Stringdusters will release Rise Sun on April 5. The album will be their follow up to their successful 2017 release Laws of Gravity.

Turkuaz adds dates
Turkuaz announced a run of dates in early March that fills in some gaps in their schedule. As of right now the band will be on the road through mid-March, with a break in February.

January 23 Fayetteville, AR – George’s Majestic Lounge
January 24 Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Company
January 25 Austin, TX – Antone’s
January 26 Houston, TX – Last Concert Café^^
January 29 Tucson, AZ – 191 Toole ^^
January 30 Phoenix, AZ – Last Exit Live ^^
January 31 Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up ^^
February 1 Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom ^^
February 2 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore ^^
February 5 Ashland, OR – Ashland Armory $$
February 6 Bend, OR – Domino Room $$
February 7 Eugene, OR – HiFi Music Hall $$
February 8 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom $$
February 9 Seattle, WA – Neumos $$
February 10 Bellingham, WA – Wild Buffalo $$
February 12 Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge ++
February 13 Bozeman, MT – The Rialto ++
February 15 Frisco, CO – 10 Mile Music Hall ++
February 16 Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre ++
March 5 Snowmass Village, CO – Bud Lite Hi Fi Concert Series
March 7 Kansas City, MO – Knuckleheads ^^
March 8 St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall ^^
March 9 Milwaukee, WI – Miramar Theatre ^^
March 10 Detroit, MI – El Club ^^
March 14 Louisville, KY – Gravely Brewing
March 15-16 Columbus, OH – St. Fatty’s Daze Festival
April 21 Atlanta, GA – Sweetwater 420 Festival
May 3 New Orleans, LA – Tipitina’s
May 26 Napa, CA – Bottle Rock Festival

^^ with Paris Monster
$$ with Object Heavy
++ Eminence Ensembl


Jam in the Sand
January 15-19
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, The Wailers, Green Leaf Rustlers

International Incident
January 25-28
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams

Panic en la Playa Ocho
January 25-29
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Riviera Maya
February 15-17
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Phish in Riviera Maya
February 21-23
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 22-24
Steamboat Springs, CO
Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition, Billy Strings, The California Honeydrops, Della Mae with Bonnie Paine, Jeff Austin Band, The Shook Twins

Suwannee Spring Reunion
March 21-24
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Steep Canyon Rangers, Billy Strings, Peter Rowan, Donna the Buffalo, Larry Keel Experience, John Stickley Trio

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, ALO, Fruition, Billy Strings, Jeff Austin Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

Bender Jamboree
April 11-14
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Billy Strings

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 19-21
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta, GA
Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Rebelution, Moon Taxi, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Turkuaz

May 16-18
Marvin’s Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (x5), Aqueous, Litz, Mungion, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

May 23-26
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, The Travelin’ McCourys, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King Band, Billy Strings

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-26
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Trampled by Turtles, Blues Traveler, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford, ALO

Dark Star Jubilee
May 24-26
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Leftover Salmon, Billy Strings, Dumpstaphunk, The Lil’ Smokies, Donna the Buffalo, The Nth Power

Camp Greensky
June 6-8
Wellston, MI

June 13-16
Manchester, TN
Phish, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers, GRiZ, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Jim James, Trampled By Turtles, The Wood Brothers, Shovels & Rope, The Record Company

Keller in the Caverns
June 21-23
Pelham, TN
2 Keller Williams performances as well as Pettygrass, More Than A Little, and a Grateful Gospel Brunch

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 20-23
Telluride, CO
Brandi Carlisle, Sam Bush Band, Jim James, Greensky Bluegrass, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon: Stories from the Living Room, Punch Brothers, Railroad Earth

Electric Forest
June 27-30
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
3 nights of The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lettuce, The Floozies, TAUK, Spafford, Twiddle, Ghost Light, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Nth Power, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Smoky Run Music Festival
June 28-30
Butler, OH
Gov’t Mule, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Son Volt, The Travelin’ McCoury’s & Jeff Austin Band present Grateful Ball, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Rumpke Mountain Boys

July 4-6
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

High Sierra
July 4-7
Quincy, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Jim James, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, ALO, Marcus King Band

Camp Bisco
July 18-20
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA

FloydFest 19 “Journey Home”
July 24-28
Floyd, VA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grace featuring Love Cannon

Peach Music Festival
July 25-28
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, moe., Greensky Bluegrass, Lotus, Lettuce, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Allman Betts Band, Billy Strings

Lockn’ Festival
August 22-25
Arrington, VA


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!