SHARON JONES and the DAP-KINGS performing as part of Do Right! with DJs JOHN KONG and chris Robinson at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Wednesday (August 21). $15. 416-596-1908.
It seems like nothing can stop the funk. With the excellent Funky 16 Corners disc ringing up record numbers for an archival compilation of obscure indie funk and Beyoncé Knowles getting down with the Neptunes' throwback 70s bump on her Goldmember joint, Work It Out, the righteously raw sound that James Brown helped pioneer is blasting back with a Shaft-like vengeance.
And Sharon Jones, currently at the forefront of the funk revival, couldn't be happier. The big-voiced Brooklynite is the movement's bold soul sister number one, which should be clear after hearing her fabulous Dap-Dippin' With Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings (Daptone) debut.
No one else on the scene comes close to the hard belting of the badass Ms. Jones, whose aggressive delivery, backed by her eight-piece Dap-Kings band (stacked with members of Antibalas, the Mighty Imperials and Sugarman Three), recalls James Brown Show starlet Marva Whitney at her house-wrecking best.
"As good as the record is," says Jones on a cellphone outside her Brooklyn home, "there's so much more energy to the live performance. I really feed off a crowd. If the people are into it, I get excited, too, and sometimes I just lose it.
"One time we were doing a show in Barcelona and I got into a zone. I couldn't stop singing. I had no idea we'd been playing for two hours straight until somebody in the band whispered loudly, "Sharon, you gotta quit it -- you're killing us!'"
The month-long tours of Spain, sold-out tours throughout the United Kingdom and the associated notoriety are new to Jones. Until just recently, the 46-year-old former Rikers Island corrections officer wasn't sure whether her dream of a music career would involve more than serenading newlyweds with Michael Jackson medleys.
Jones has been moonlighting in wedding bands for the past 17 years, but now she may have to give it up, however reluctantly.
"The wedding band I sing with, Good and Plenty, is made up of older Italian men who all have day jobs and businesses, so music is like a hobby to them. But for me the wedding band thing is really my steady job, which has kept me going over the years.
"Since the World Trade Center tragedy, though, the work has really dropped off. Whereas we typically did about 100 weddings annually, it's doubtful we'll even do 50 this year, so who knows how much longer the band will last?
"Hopefully, I can continue singing and playing shows with the Dap-Kings and make that my main thing, because that's really where my heart is."
Knowing Jones's considerable experience singing top-40 hits at wedding receptions might lead you to suppose that she was behind the inspired decision to remake Janet Jackson's What Have You Done For Me Lately? as a thumping funk workout. Actually, she was a bit leery of the idea when it was first proposed.
"That was (Daptone label boss) Gabriel Roth's idea. He wrote all the songs, arranged them and came up with the whole album concept. He's so amazing, it's scary -- like, where did this curly-haired 27-year-old white boy get all this funk from? Sometimes I think he's got some little old black man living inside him.
"Of course, I'd heard the Janet Jackson tune, but I never really paid much attention to what she was singing until Gabe gave me the lyrics and suggested we try it. He put the music together and said, "Just sing it how you feel it.' So I did, and it worked out great.
"The funny thing was, someone in England wrote that Janet Jackson had covered my song! I guess because our version has that 70s feel, they just assumed I'd done it first. We all had a good laugh about that."