music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Sharon Jones

December 3, 2016 | 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 early November, Jones suffered two strokes as a result of her cancer. Unfortunately, she was unable to recover and passed away shortly thereafter. She passed away on November 18, 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.

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.

Dead & Co. announce 2017 dates
Dead & Co. will return in 2017. The latest Dead incarnation was a big hit in 2016 and looks to keep things going in the new year. The dates currently run May-July.

May 27 Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Arena
May 28 Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavilion
May 31 Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl
June 3 Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
June 4 Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
June 7 West Valley City, UT – USANA Amphitheatre
June 9 Boulder, CO – Folsom Field
June 10 Boulder, CO – Folsom Field
June 13 Atlanta, GA – Lakewood Amphitheatre
June 15 Burgettstown, PA – KeyBank Pavilion
June 17 Boston, MA – Fenway Park
June 18 Boston, MA – Fenway Park
June 20 Saratoga Springs, NY – SPAC
June 22 Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live
June 24 New York, NY – Citi Field
June 25 Camden, NJ – BB&T Pavilion
June 28 Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Blossom Music Center
June 30 Chicago, IL – Wrigley Field
July 1 Chicago, IL – Wrigley Field

Wanee announces initial lineup
The Wanee Festival is one of the kick-off festivals of the jam band year, and they announced their initial lineup for 2017. The festival will return to The Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park in Live Oaks, FL and will take place from April 20-22.

The lineup once again includes Widespread Panic, and will also feature Bob Weir, Trey Anastasio Band, Gov’t Mule, JJ Grey & Mofro, Leftover Salmon, The Greyboy Allstars, Matisyahu, Turkuaz, and many others.

Trey Anastasio Band announces dates
The Trey Anastasio Band will hit the road in 2017 prior to Phish’s expected summer dates. The band has dates running from April through early June.

April 14 Port Chester, NY – The Capitol Theatre
April 15 Port Chester, NY – The Capitol Theatre
April 20 Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore
April 21 Atlanta, GA – Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 29 Austin, TX – Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
April 30 Houston, TX – House of Blues
May 2 Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
May 3 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
May 5 Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
May 6 Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Theatre
May 7 Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
May 25 Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore
May 31 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheater
June 3 Missoula, MT – Big Sky Brewery

String Cheese Incident announce new album
The String Cheese Incident will release Believe in the first part of 2017, although no final release date has been announced. The album was recorded in the band’s SCI Sound Lab and will likely include the songs that have already been released through their Sound Lab platform as well as other new tracks.

Strings & Sol
December 9-13
New Sapphire
Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Yonder MOuntain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller & The Keels, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass

Jam Cruise
January 20-25
Sailing from Miami, FL
The Original Meters, moe., GRiZ, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Benevento Russo Duo, Lettuce, Kamasi Washinton, The Revivalists, The Motet, Beats Antique

Los Muertos Con Queso
January 25-28
Riviera Maya, Mexico
The String Cheese Incident, Bill Kreutzmann & Bob Weir with Dave Schools, Jeff Chimenti, and Tom Hamilton, Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds: Three Concerts On The Beach
February 23-25
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 26-27
Steamboat, CO
Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Elephant Revival, Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush Band, Fruition, Brothers Comatose, Steep Canyon Rangers, Billy Strings

Panic En La Playa
February 27-March 3
Hard Rock Hotel
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Widespread Panic, Orgone, Southern Soul Assembly, Playa All Stars

Winter Wondergrass California
March 31-April 2
Olympic Valley, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush Band, Hot Buttered Rum, Fruition

Wanee Festival
April 20-22
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Bob Weir, Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio Band, Gov’t Mule, Leftover Salmon, Blackberry Smoke, Matisyahu, JJ Grey & Mofro

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 21-23
Centennial Park
Atlanta, GA
Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio Band, Ween, Lettuce, Slightly Stoopid, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Anders Osborne, Dark Star Orchestra, Twiddle

June 8-11
Manchester, TN

Mountain Jam
June 16-18
Hunter Mountain, NY
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, Gary Clark Jr., Michael Franti & Spearhead, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Elephant Revival, Shovels & Rope, The Revivalists, The Infamous Stringdusters

Electric Forest I
June 22-25
Rothbury, MI

Electric Forest II
June 29-July 2
Rothbury, MI

Floydfest 17: Freedom
July 26-30
Floyd, VA
Michael Franti & Spearhead, St. Paul & Broken Bones, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Shovels & Rope, Turkuaz, TUAK, Fruition

August 24-27
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!