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Concert Reviews:
Sharon Jones, Dap-Kings, Honeybears bring a sweet soul Saturday to Pontiac
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

PONTIAC -- Amidst a myriad of music in the metro area this weekend -- from country at the WYCD Downtown Hoedown to the Flaming Lips' psychedelia and Usher's state-of-the-art R&B/pop -- a little sweet soul music may have been the best play of all.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears combined on Saturday night (March 14) at the Crofoot Ballroom for a formidable one-two punch that combined old school virtues with a contemporary attitude and bona fide hipster cool. Between them they stirred together Motown, Stax, East Coast (New York and Philly), Mississippi Delta, Chicago blues and Texas fury for a stunning revue that kept the room shaking well into the midnight hour.

Jones turned 55 earlier this month but, not unlike Tina Turner seemed ageless as she vamped and shimmied across the Crofoot stage for more than two hours, sporting a blue-and-white fringed dress, belting out songs from her four albums with the Dap-Kings and even introducing a brand new tune called "Longer and Stronger," in which she affirms that "a woman like me can stand the test of time." The evening's songs certainly let listeners know Jones was not someone to be trifled with, whether it was the slinky "If You Call," the sassy (and Motowny) "New Shoes" or the lover-warning "Window Shopping" and "The Game Gets Old."

Jones also pulled fans onstage throughout the night, bringing up lines of dancing ladies, but giving the dudes their due, too. Her game choice for dancing partner during "Give It Back" wore a Jesus Loves Funk T-shirt, while she found a blushing, fresh-faced young man to serenade with "Mama Don't Like My Man." Jones needed no help, however, during a stretched-out and frenetic version of "When I Come Home;" she was a one-woman dancing fool, demonstrating a decade's worth of steps including the Mashed Potato, the Funky Chicken, the Tighten-Up and more.

The Dap-Kings more than held their own in this equation, of course. Augmented by new touring "substitutes" that allow the recording line-up's principles to work on other projects, the 10-piece group was tight and smooth, complementing but never overshadowing the star. The band had its own moments to shine, too: guitarist and MC Binky Griptite sang his own song "The Stroll," while backup singers Starr Duncan and Saundra Williams (aka the Dapettes) strutted their stuff on "Lucky in Love" and "Hey Baby," respectively. And for the first encore the group pleased the Motown partisans with a mostly instrumental version of the Four Tops' "Reach Out I'll Be There."

Lewis and his seven-member crew, meanwhile, heated rather than merely warmed things up during a fiery 13-song, 45-minute set. A roadhouse-worthy counterpart to the Dap-Kings' supper club kind of sophistication, the Austin, Texas-based Honeybears were raw but tight and just as diverse as they tore through the blues of "Stop Breakin' Down" and "Mustang Ranch," the brassy Stax soul of "Jungle," the funk of "Get High" and the fierce shuffle of "Black Snake," on which singer-guitarist Lewis also played harmonica. That the set finished with the Trashmen's 1963 garage rock hit "Surfin' Bird" was a further testament to just how wide and barrier-free of a musical palette Lewis and his band, just like Jones and the Dap-Kings draw from.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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