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Jan 5, 2016 Listen to all 4 tracks:
Sonny Knight and The Lakers with Fred Wesley and John Jabo Starks perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
Sonny Knight and the Lakers with Jabo Starks and Fred Wesley - This Is A Man's World (live on 89.3 The Current)
Sonny Knight and the Lakers with Jabo Starks and Fred Wesley - There Was a Time (live on 89.3 The Current)
Sonny Knight and the Lakers with Jabo Starks and Fred Wesley - Try Me (live on 89.3 The Current)
It's nice when a surprise phone call brings good news. When Eric Foss of Sonny Knight and the Lakers was on his way to work one day, the band's booking agent, Jack Randall, phoned Eric with an idea. Randall suggested Sonny Knight and the Lakers collaborate on some shows with John "Jabo" Starks and Fred Wesley, the drummer and trombone player, respectively, from James Brown's band.
"[John Randall has] got a lot of experience bringing people together, especially from a certain genre or a certain era," Foss says. "I said, 'Let's try and make it happen' … and here we are."
Ahead of two shows they'll play on Monday, Jan. 4, at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in Minneapolis, Sonny Knight and the Lakers, along with Jabo Starks and Fred Wesley, stopped at The Current to perform a set of James Brown songs and to chat with Bill DeVille.
Wesley and Starks are impressed with Sonny Knight and the Lakers. "They really understand the music and they relish the music, they do it real good," Wesley says. "I'm just happy to play with them."
Knight certainly relishes the opportunity to perform Brown's music. "James Brown has always been an inspiration to me," he says. "This music means everything to me, it's like where it's all at. It's the funk, it's the blues, it's a little bit of the gospel, it's a little bit of everything that all comes together. And these guys lay down the funk so well, it just makes it right."
Asked to define funk, Starks says, "You can sit down and start patting your feet and shaking your butt and getting into it, making all your funny little moves that's funk!"
In the course of the interview, Starks and Wesley reflected on their time working with the legendary James Brown. Wesley recalls Brown as "a benevolent person" who taught him an important lesson about the music business. "He told me, 'I'll give you the publishing on this song, or I'll pay you $125.' I told him I'd take the $125 I was very young and green, I didn't understand what publishing was," Wesley recalls. "[Brown] said, 'I'm going to give you both: The money I'll give you now will take care of you for a day, the publishing I'll give you will take care of you for the rest of your life, and your family.' And it's been true. He was a very good person about doing things like that."
Starks had similar praise for Brown's business acumen, saying to this day, he still receives royalty checks for the work he did with Brown.
Ultimately, however, it's the music that matters most. "I just have fun playing music, period," Starks says.
Listen to the complete interview and all of the songs by clicking the audio player above.
"This Is A Man's World"
"There Was a Time"
The Lakers: Sam Harvey-Carlson (organ), Cole Pulice (saxophone), Riley Helgeson (trumpet), Tony Beaderstadt (trombone), Blair Krivanek (guitar), Nick Salisbury (bass), Eric Foss (guitar)
Jabo Starks, drums
Fred Wesley, trombone
Hosted by Bill DeVille
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark, Erik Stromstad and Sasha Druva
Photo and video by Nate Ryan and Leah Garaas
Web feature by Luke Taylor
- Sonny Knight and the Lakers
- Jabo Starks
- Fred Wesley
- Sonny Knight and the Lakers - official site
- John 'Jabo' Starks (via Drummerworld)
- Fred Wesley - official site
- Sonny Knight and the Lakers perform live at the Minnesota State Fair Sonny Knight and the Lakers joined Mark Wheat for a live performance from the MPR booth on the corner of Judson and Nelson at the Minnesota State Fair.
- Sonny Knight and the Lakers perform live in the Current studios This world isn't fair, but every once in a while, good things happen to good people - and that's definitely the case with Sonny Knight, the Minnesota soul music veteran who's reaching a new career peak in his mid-60s.
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