SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS/LEE FIELDS/BUDOS BAND
CELEBRATE BROOKLYN FESTIVAL PROSPECT PARK
When an audience of 20,000 strong stand clapping for several moments straight and a performer stops the show to cry tears of joy, you know you’re witnessing something special.
Such was the case at the magnificent Sharon Jones concert on her home turf of Brooklyn. I sincerely think that with this kind of love, the woman could run for Mayor of New York and pull it off.
The R&B queen was supported by 18 elegantly dressed instrumentalists and back-up singers including the Bushwick Philharmonic, a classy string quartet. She came out on 45 minutes of sleep, having flown in from a gig in Georgia where she’d opened for Cyndy Lauper. Descending a staircase for a dramatic entrance, the tiny bundle of dynamite exploded upon hitting the stage.
And she barely paused for a good two hours or so.
Whether they were ballads, up-tempo numbers, or joyful dance routines, she performed like her life depended on it. I don’t think the word great would even do her justice.
A duets segment with vocalist Lee Fields showcased two masters at their best. Considering duets are almost a lost art, this was a highlight of the evening.
What more can I say? Sharon Jones is that rarest of treasures- someone who will give you every last drop of blood on stage, and probably would have gone even longer had the promoters not called for the curfew. And speaking of promoters, they should study an event like this. While overpriced tours like Maxwell’s at $40-$250 a ticket had dates cancelled, this $3 event drew 20,000 people. Throw in the tons of merchandise, food and alcohol purchased and the woman drew money. Big money. Maybe giving people an inexpensive and great night out is a simple solution in the midst of a recession, rather than going for the jugular with obscenely priced shows that most folk can’t afford.
Openers the Budos Band are sizzling instrumentalists. These guys probably weren’t born when soundtracks for Fred Williamson and Jim Brown flicks were coming out, yet their fine music would have fit right in on many of them. Unfortunately, though, they have zero stage presence. They barely spoke except to repeatedly plug their new CD. Thus, in a crowd this big, these fine musicians ultimately became a nameless, faceless, mob. Another issue, frankly, was that after a while some of the music sounded too similar. Sorry, fellows- we know your hearts are in the right place, but you over-extended your welcome by a good twenty minutes.
Nonetheless, this was a memorable night and there’s probably no more beloved performer today than Brooklyn’s own Ms. Sharon Jones.