Monday, December 7, 2009


Saturday, March 01, 2008 
Hi-Fi Bar

Accompanied by his three-piece Primitive Horn Orchestra, C.W Stoneking, like tonight's headliners, plays his style in a way that suggests it's more an extension of his life than work. With a voice that seems to hold the record crackle of a 78, it's a strange and affecting instrument. Thrumming his National guitar and riffing off the horn section, his songs are oddly reinforcing for their similarities. When the audience are called in for call-and-response duty for Cabbage Greens we respond boisterously and without being asked twice. Watching King Hokum being gently possessed works as well as we could hope tonight's Hi-Fi Bar-as-time-machine to work, here though, the clock is firmly set to the late 1920s, and, finishing with Hangman's Blues to warm applause and cheers, he proves an inspired choice to open the gig this evening.

Staying in he Deep South while winding that time machine forward a few decades brings us deep into soul-funk territory, the land where the Kings go by the name of Dap. 45 minutes of Soul-A-Go-Go-style DJing and out step the coolest, smoothest, swingingest smartest-suited cats you could hope for, and like CW Stoneking, we know what we're getting and it doesn't let up. They deliver, all night.
The first 15 minutes sees the band musically introduced by guitarist and MC Binky Griptite who, as expected, is a faultless consummate professional, working us for all we're worth, whipsmart asides and surefire soloing works beautifully with chief songwriter, producer and bandleader, bassist Bosco Mann. It's amazing that these guys actually use the rolled white towels provided, so little do they seem to be extending themselves and so effortlessly does the music flow. The same cannot be said for the performance put in by Queen Of Funk herself, Miss Sharon Jones. Jones works herself shaking and shimmying like a girl half her age, bellowing into the mic and working up a sweat within the opening song. She kicks off her gold high-heels part way through the set, just to give it that bit more; "I don't need these shoes" she breathes, "I'm goin' fishin'" as the band ease into Fish On My Dish. The band treat the beat as a bait, wriggling on hook after hook as Jones works the stage from side to side, bringing up eager crowd members to dance with her and play the part of the (usually unlucky) man in her songs. Like The Dap-Kings, it's all showmanship that never breaches showing off. Make It Good To Me, a Melbourne-dedicated Humble Me, Genuine and 100 Days, 100 Nights are all highlights, as is their frequent expressions of rousing disbelief that "We packed this place out FOUR NIGHTS IN A ROW Melbourne. It's unprecedented. For us.". Coming back for their encore Jones gives us an untoppable trip through the dances of her youth in Augusta, Georgia that sees the crowd taking her lead and dancing the Boogaloo, Funky Chicken, Mashed Potato etc. It's a night the smartly-dressed cross-section of community-radio-loving public that makes up tonight's raucous crowd seem to want to remember, if the throng milling around the Super Show Super Store (AKA Soul Mart! 'Where soul meets dynamite!' AKA the merch desk) after the show is anything to go by.

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