Wednesdays used to be just that for Sharon Jones – Wednesday. These days, after three shows in four nights and a road trip halfway down the Eastern seaboard, Wednesdays have become rest days. Believe the New York City soul singer when she says that she doesn’t like to rest.
“People look at my schedule and say it’s so busy. It’s been like that for the past 18 years,” she says from Durham, N.C., where she and her band fell victim to last week’s nor’easter. “People just never noticed. It’s only because I’m sick and they’re concerned about my energy.
“I was out of work for seven months, and I’ll be 58 in May. I’m not a young chickadee anymore.”
No doubt, yet despite a bout with stage-two pancreatic cancer that had her staring down death last summer, this bird’s still got bloom. Jones’ fifth album, January’s Give the People What They Want, pushes an agenda in line with her previous four LPs alongside the zip-tight Dap-Kings, a Brooklyn-based funk band trading on deep pockets of groove. Jones and company recorded the album before her May diagnosis, but the material changed with her circumstances.
“The songs have new meanings,” acknowledges Jones. “We do that song ‘Get Up and Get Out.’ I’m singing, ‘Get up and get out,’ like a preacher telling the cancer to get up and get out my body. I used to sing it like it was about some man in my life. But that song isn’t about me telling someone to get up and get out.
My drummer [Homer Steinweiss] wrote it. He said that song’s really about bed bugs. Now it’s got three meanings!”– Chase Hoffberger