Soul power to the people - Page 2

Sharon Jones kicks cancer and hits the road with the Dap-Kings


"They gave me a bill for over $500," Jones recalls. "I thought, 'Are you fuckin' crazy? How the hell am I supposed to pay for this throughout my treatment? What am I supposed to do now? Die?' It's ridiculous!"

Fired up about the topic, Jones sympathizes with those in her situation without insurance "while these pharmaceutical companies are making billions. I'm thinking about how I've traveled, gone to Europe, Australia, and they don't pay like that."

As recently as 2008, Jones would return from touring abroad to a home she shared with her mother in New York City housing projects, sometimes needing assistance from church to get by. Before her career in music gained traction, she worked a variety of jobs, including as a prison guard, and occasionally carried a pistol in her fanny pack for protection in the neighborhoods she navigated.

She met Roth in 1996, while he was recording soul man Lee Fields. "I needed a background singer and the sax player that worked with us said, 'Oh, my girlfriend can come in,'" Roth says. "When she did, I told her I needed three singers and she said, 'I can do all three parts.' She sounded so good we brought her in for other work."

Jones's story isn't atypical at Daptone, where careers, such as Fields', are revitalized — or given a shot they never had. Charles Bradley, who installed the plumbing at Daptone studios before recording there, is finally being recognized well into his 60s.

In addition to the aesthetic of the 1960s and '70s soul singers, Roth uses recording equipment from that period. He's not alone in his approach — Daft Punk and Pretty Lights made no secret of their use of tape to record their 2013 Grammy-winning or nominated albums.

"To be honest, I think a lot of it is bullshit," Roth says. "I don't think it matters that much, sound-wise. For me, it's a question of process: When you go into the studio to make a record, you want the musicians, the songwriters, and the arrangers to be on their A-game." Tape limits the number of available takes, he says, and the pressure is on to get it right. "When you record [digitally] and you have an infinite amount of isolations, tracks, takes, and that much control over each note you're not really committing to anything. It changes the process. In that way it really changes the music."

For now, the band can once again focus on the music. They're eager to bring the show to the city and to stay in the same place for three nights, a luxury on the road. Drummer Homer Steinweiss will get more material for his foodie blog. And the audiences here have treated the band well in the past.

"They tend to be less impressed in LA, New York, or Chicago, because there's so much music there," Roth says. "But San Francisco, even with the amount of entertainment, culture, and excitement there is there, the crowd really seems to come to have a good time."

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
With Valerie June
March 27-29, 8pm, $35
1805 Geary Blvd, SF