Sharon Jones: The Dap-Kings, Phish and Other Daptone Gold
Though no stranger to the jamband world, Sharon Jones reached an entirely new audience this Halloween when she helped Phish interpret the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street. The high-profile gig comes as the fifty-something, Augusta, Georgia-born singer prepares for the release of her next album, a new touring version of the Dap-Kings and the rarities set Daptone Gold. Below, Jones looks back on her recent Festival 8 appearance and gives us a taste of what’s in store for the Dap-Kings in 2010.
Let’s start by talking about the new Daptone Gold collection. It features a mix of outtakes, rare recordings, singles and other odds and ends. One of your contributions is a great version of Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “Giving Up” from 2008. Do you remember that recording session?
That was pretty cool—I mean the purpose of doing that session I think was was for a commercial or something, and we ended up using it when we released the album 100 Days, 100 Nights. We played it at New York’s Nokia for those nights. I hadn’t heard that song since I was a kid and you can see all the people in the audience go “Oh yeah, that song.”
Daptone Gold also includes “Got A Thing On My Mind,” which was the very first Daptone release. According to the album’s notes, it was released as a 45 in 2000 and later on Dap Dippin.
Well, the first song I really recorded with them was “Switchblade,” which was for [label founder Gabe Roth’s] old label Desco. But “Got A Thing On My Mind” was the first song we did for Daptone. When I first met Gabe he was doing the Afro-beat thing [with Antibalas]. They were just doing 45s and trying to get an album together. Then they went through a funk phase and went with Lee Fields. Somehow they wrote this song “Switchblade” and they had wanted me to sing on it. He wanted three girls but I said, “Why get three girls when I can do all three part harmonies.” So I went in and did all the background. So on that song I do all the background female vocals. It was that one “Switchblade” and then “The Landlord” and then “Damn it’s Hot.” Those were all for Desco.
Then Desco evolved to Daptone?
Then we went and eventually did “Got a Thing on My Mind.”
Daptone Gold really highlights all the connections betweens the Dap-Kings, Budos Band, Antibalas, Lee Fields and all the other Daptone artists—the whole community’s on display on one disc.
That’s good. Keep a young label hungry [laughter]. That’s what we are all about, you know?
You’re working on a new album right now as well, right?
It’s certainly not finished, but the vocals are done, the music is done. It’s just a matter of them going in and doing their thing to get the job done. Everyone’s gotta do what they do. We’ve played a few of the new songs to show how strong they are. I’ve played like four or five songs off the album already. We have a variety of stuff coming up. I know we still have to sit down and pick some songs because I think we did maybe nineteen, and we’re probably talking ten or twelve songs on the album. I also wrote a Christmas song. It’s gonna come out on 45, and they gonna put it on an album. The name of it is “There Ain’t No Chimneys in The Projects.”
That sounds like an uplifting Christmas song.
That’s one of my first songs I got a chance to write, you know? Gabe helped me out with it. Me and Gabe wrote it together.
Is that going to be on the album or just on 45?
They are going to release it around the holidays on 45. We have a lot of 45s, and they were thinking about making an album of 45’s. Maybe that’s what they did with the Gold album, I think. Those guys put out so much stuff out, I don’t keep track.