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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Nov. 17, 2007

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November 22, 2007

A gathering of ticket-less Sharon Jones fans braved sheets of icy rain outside Turner Hall on Saturday night hoping that someone, anyone, might have a spare ticket for the soulful crooner's notoriously crowd-pleasing show. With the sweet smell of polyurethane in the air, the renovated ballroom filled to sold-out capacity with an eclectic collection of Milwaukee music-lovers.

The Dap-Kings, the dapper eight-piece backing band for Sharon Jones, introduced themselves first with an intense, well-layered instrumental groove. Homer "Funky-Foot" Steinweiss on the drum kit, accompanied by Fernando "Bugaloo" Velez on the congas, delivered uncluttered beats that were at times strikingly complex and, when needed, totally primal. With his bass guitar, Bosco "Bass" Mann unleashed a thick, rolling strand of pure, unadulterated funk that the two guitars, one played by emcee Binky Griptite, took for a ride, leaving bold and energetic melodies in their wake. The horn section, a heavy-hitting trio comprised of a trumpet, baritone sax and tenor sax, embodied all the sass of an Isley Brothers arrangement. Expressive and moving, the pure attitude in the Dap-King originals was enough to get the crowd groovin'.

During the band's fifth song, the lovely Ms. Sharon Jones appeared. When she liberated herself of her heels and earrings and said, "There's something about this stage and this microphone, I just can't control myself," it was as if she gave the audience permission to let loose and join the Queen Mother of Funk on a self-reflective journey of soul music. Jones' rich set sampled from this year's 100 Days, 100 Nights, 2005's Naturally and 2002's Dap Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. With a tireless spirit, passionate voice and impressive talent for connecting with the audience, Sharon Jones will no doubt find herself with another sold-out show next time she comes through Milwaukee.