Sharon Jones likes Justin Timberlake, among other things
what Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
when 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17
where Turner Hall Ballroom, 1034 N. 4th St.
how much $15
Sharon Jones, along with the Dap Kings, has been credited with spearheading the funk-revival movement, what with kids getting down from Long Beach to Milwaukee to Toronto.
Jones honed her chops at church choirs, and often sang back up for various acts. She also worked as a corrections officer and armored car guard for Wells Fargo Bank, until she backed Lee Fields in 1996. The record producers were so impressed with her that they paired her with the Soul Providers, and eventually formed Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Most of the tunes were recorded the way old funk albums were — on analog — and released on vinyl only.
After releasing “Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings” in 2002 and “Naturally” in 2005, Jones is on her way to becoming a household name with this year’s “100 Days, 100 Nights.” Some of the recognition came in a roundabout way; Amy Winehouse “borrowed” Jones’ band for her album “Back to Black,” for example. Jay-Z is also interested in working with the Dap Kings.
Jones doesn’t mind, saying, “It was just something we jumped on, when we started our own label 13 years ago,” she said. “Everyone else just started hearing it, and … people (just started) wanting us,” she said.
She also has a lot going on. This year, she has a cameo in the Denzel Washington-directed movie, “The Great Debaters,” playing a juke joint singer named “Lila.” And everyone — from Lou Reed to Al Green, to Stevie Wonder and David Byrne — wants to work with her. “I would love to do more stuff with people from back in the day, because we can come back now,” she said. (Her dream collaboration, FYI, is with Justin Timberlake. “He has his head on, I like his voice, whether it’s R&B or soul, I can just see it.”)
So when not being the goddess of funk, Sharon Jones does mundane things like pick up her kids from football practice. That was, in fact, what she was doing when I called her for an interview; luckily, she’s also tech-savvy, and has Bluetooth, so she can talk to reporters while driving.
Jones credits their consistent touring schedule with the success of “100 Days, 100 Nights.”
“Itâ€™s such a big difference from the last two,” she said. “In the first week of “Dap-dippin” we sold 500; on “100 Days,” we sold 5,000 — and thatâ€™s just in the States,” she said.
It’s a good cap to a difficult year, family-wise. Her brother had a stroke, her mother got sick.
“From Dec. 25 last year to now, I’ve had 21 deaths in my life,” she said. “But things have been coming along, with the movie and the album out now. Everythingâ€™s great.”
Before talking to Jones, I asked Andy Noble, who is credited with Milwaukee’s funk revival, if he had any burning questions for her. (FYI, Noble is also opening for Jones tomorrow at Turner Hall.) He told me to ask Jones how she feels about her audience being mainly young white people.
“I’ve been asked that before, and that surprised and stunned me,” Jones said, “Twelve years ago (when we started), young white college people were the only ones playing our stuff and pushing us through the years,” she explained. “I donâ€™t choose my audience. When I hear people screaming ‘Sharon I love you!’ I just see people,” she said.
Their struggle — making their own studio, doing gigs at places that pay 75-100 dollars, touring non-stop — proves thier dedication. “Weâ€™ve just been doing what we love to do. When I start singing, Iâ€™m just singing, itâ€™s a good thing. Iâ€™m just glad more people hear us,” she said.
And she’s enjoying the fame — especially when it comes to inspiring youth. Whether it’s trendy or not to like funk, Jones says, “I just thank God right now theyâ€™re interested in us. Iâ€™m going to enjoy these 15 minutes!” she said, laughing.