by DJ El Toro
I just spent the last six days helping a friend move cross-country, from Seattle to NYC. In a compact car. Aside from the gumball-sized hailstones and tornado warning in rural MN, it was pretty monotonous. But the carrot on the stick? Knowing that Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings were headlining Central Park Summer Stage on Sunday, August 17.
I don’t need to tell KEXP fans that Sharon Jones kicks ass live; heck, her version of “Let Them Knock” on Live at KEXP Volume Four is proof a-plenty. And I dug the instrumental funk styling of openers Menahan Street Band (featuring members of the Dap-Kings, El Michels Affair, and the Budos Band), too — hard to believe this huge gig was their first live show. But the act that snapped me right back into shape after 3,000-plus grueling miles in a cramped Volvo was Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens.
Resplendent in a two-piece royal blue ensemble and a sequined silver cap — with matching sneakers! — Shelton powered through a short set of uplifting soul-gospel numbers. And when she was ready for the occasional break, Naomi would simply pass the microphone to one of the four Gospel Queens — who enriched the gig with full-bodied, rough-edged harmonies reminiscent of ’60s girl group the Bluebelles — and let them take a solo turn.
The full-length debut from Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens is set to drop in early 2009. I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot of it on KEXP. But why wait — or drive for six days solid — to enjoy such wonderful music? Click below and check out her new single, “What Have You Done?” and draw your own conclusions.
DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column, Weird At My School, appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog.