One of Sharon Jones’ biggest fans found her musical love while waiting in line for a beer at Sunset Junction in 2004. Nancy Marie Arteaga heard the funky siren call of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ version of “This Land Is Your Land,” brought her beer to a small side stage and “fully fell in love with the Daptone catalog.”
More than 10 years later, Arteaga is a booker, promoter and L.A. Daptone emissary. She’s also the force behind a massive tribute show for Jones, who died of pancreatic cancer in November. Held at the Regent on April 7, the show will feature 10 L.A.-based soul, funk and reggae bands and more than a dozen DJs. All proceeds will benefit various charities, including the Lustgarten Foundation for pancreatic cancer research.
“It’s amazing to see things like this come together. I was moved when Nancy contacted us about doing it,” says Daptone co-founder and Dap-Kings bassist Gabriel Roth. “It means a lot to have people pay tribute to Sharon and all the work we’ve done over her career. ... I think she would have been very proud to see what an inspiration she continues to be to so many people.”
The tribute will feature Breakestra, the Boogaloo Assassins, Buyepongo and other groups from in and around Los Angeles. Each band will have a 20-minute set and play one Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings cover; DJs will spin between acts.
“There’s a lot of funk in California and I wanted to bring it right,” says Arteaga, who owns Nance Arte Productions and religiously turns her friends on to Jones' music. “I have a reggae band [performing], I have a ska band, I have a Chicano psych band, I have a cumbia band, but all of them are influenced by Sharon Jones.”
Jones and Daptone Records have close ties to the L.A. area, notes Roth, a Riverside native. The Brooklyn-based Dap-Kings have performed in Southern California for at least 15 years, bringing their hard-hitting, beautifully arranged funky soul everywhere from the Mint to the Hollywood Bowl. A handful of bands on the bill have opened for Jones or collaborated with the Dap-Kings in other projects.
“Sharon’s voice just blew me away; she sang harder than a trumpet,” says trumpet player Todd Simon, who toured with the Dap-Kings while living in New York and whose jazz ensemble Ethio Cali will be part of the tribute. “She pushed us more than any musician I’ve ever worked with. Some gigs my mouth would be bloody from playing so hard.”
As the band got bigger, so did the L.A. love.
“We have all been moved by Sharon’s music. Her words are powerful and inspiring,” says Angel Salgado, whose ska/reggae band The Delirians will put a reggae spin on a SJDK number. “Her strength was amazing; she kept the show going no matter what. Even in her rough times she still brought happiness to the people.”
Arteaga says seeing Jones perform was like a form of medicine. “Some people have alcohol, weed, coke, whatever ... Sharon was my drug of choice. I feel like if she hadn’t come into my life I don’t know where I’d be — probably at a fucking Morrissey convention.”
Jones died after two heroic bouts with cancer — her treatment and triumphant return to the stage were documented in the film Miss Sharon Jones! — and left reeling many friends and fans the world over. “Nothing really prepares you for it. Especially when it’s someone you make music with and someone whose music and talent you love so much,” Simon says.
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The DJs behind Funky Sole in Echo Park held a tribute the night after Jones died, but Arteaga felt she needed to do more to celebrate Jones’ life and music — something that would showcase the many bands she inspired and the depth of L.A.’s musical community.
“L.A. right now, I think it’s unlike any other city as far as music goes," Simon says. "There’s a big sense of camaraderie that I feel amongst all the bands. You’re gonna feel it onstage that night.
"It’s really nice to find a space where people can celebrate life in a positive manner, be joyous and not be sad about it," he adds. "I know for a fact that Sharon wants us all to live our life to the fullest. ... She wouldn’t want us to be sad all the time."
"A Tribute to Sharon Jones" takes place at the Regent Theater on Friday, April 7. Tickets and more info.