Sharon Jones Joins Booker T & the MGs

Booker T’s brought a fantastic backing band with him to the show last night. The legendary Donald “Duck” Dunn held down the bass, which was fantastically turned up in the mix louder than just about any bassist I’ve heard. Steve Cropper, a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and possible stunt double for James Gandolfini in Get Shorty, stood out front on guitar, and David Letterman drummer Anton Fig sat at the kit for the new MGs.


But as talented as the individual members of this band are, and as great as the songbook is, something was missing last night. If some of the more pessimistic members of the message board culture were in attendance last night, I fear they’d call the instrumentals trotted out last night the work of a “third-tier jamband noodling for hours.” And, you know what, I really wouldn’t disagree. The show definitely picked up as it went on, but the first 45 minutes were semi-wasted on me with idling play. I felt like I was watching a band go through the motions.


That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself. And any night that I get to spend some time with the Female James Brown, you can’t write it off altogether. I prefer my Sharon Jones with the pure funk behind her, the Dap-Kings band that provides the best possible context for Jones’ show within a show. But since the Dap-Kings are off in an Amy Winehouse world for now — I wonder how the fight foor them between Jones and Winehouse goes — Sharon is forced to come out and sing a few covers with Booker T and his boys.

Photo by Ace Cowboy

Jones brought some much-needed energy to the proceedings, and the last half-hour certainly sparkled with her vibrancy and urgency. She recalled seeing Otis Redding in 1967, she cranked out Dock of the Bay, she told us she was about to Knock on Wood, and she did. But I don’t pay to see her play covers, I love her funk and her soul and her moves. It’s a good thing I didn’t pay last night — most of that was missing. Crazy as she was, she seemed so restrained and out of place.


But it was a great night at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, a free 90 minutes of music on the water with the gray skies holding back the downpour it threatened. And, as I said up top, I’m for nostalgia acts — throw one in the mix on a random Wednesday night with a hint of my favorite female performer in the world right now, and you’ll get a nice slow clap from me on the way out. I may say some shitty things on this here blog the next day, but how can you not nod and smile and bob your head to that? Impossible.


Before I point you to the rest of Danfun’s shots, let’s take a look at the scene:

Photo by Ace Cowboy

Talk about a great venue for a show…this must be the place:

Photo by Ace Cowboy

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0 Responses

  1. I would have to concur with the coverage here. I arrived a little late, so it’s gratifying to hear that the first part of the show was so-so. I thought Sharon Jones was good, and her suggestive dance moves and movement between the artists brought out the sexual (sub) text in Knock on wood and Midnight Hour in a fun way. The bass was turned up as high as I have ever heard. I enjoyed it, but thought when Dunn got up in the high register the sound got really muddy. Dock of the Bay was kind of a snooze. Good nostalgia act, much respect for their (at least Booker T and Dunn) influence over the past 50(!) years, good venue. Crowd was kind of dead, but then again the band wasn’t exactly lighting a fire under their ass. Glad I checked it out. There’s something satisfying about going to free events.

  2. Nice, Oliver, glad we agree on mostly everything…ya know, I kinda feel bad writing reviews like these, but it’s better to be honest, right? It just lacked something, something that not even the funkiest chick on Earf could rectify.

  3. I think some horns would have helped punch up the sound. Hard to think of a song like “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long…” Without that rising horn chorus… or Otis for that matter. Also, the parks service was employing gestapo tactics against anybody who would be crazy enough to bring a bottle of alcoholic bev to the evening concert in the park. They could have had a nice little party with the number of bottles-many unopened-they grabbed. They were staring people down randomly and totally harshing the mellow. I’ll keep that in mind for next time. Scenery is unparalleled at that venue though.

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