Saturday, August 6 • 8:00pm • The Bowl
Sonny Knight & the Lakers exist in the afterglow that soul luminaries like Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin created with their raucous, kinetic, and supreme live performances. Sonny Knight and the Lakers Do It Live, from the eponymous group, is a loving return to the height of live R&B, with Knight and his band perfectly capturing the uproarious vibe and rebellious musicianship of an era long gone. A year of steady touring through the US and Europe has allowed the group to create a seamless set, mixing songs from their critically-acclaimed debut studio album, I’m Still Here, with a couple covers of classic soul songs from, and re-imagined bits from Led Zeppelin and James Brown. Recorded in their hometown at the Dakota Jazz Club over two nights and four performances, The Lakers aim to bring a new focus on the art of the live record. Hoping to produce something more than merely derivative, they set out to reconstruct the ephemeral experience of a live concert and earn a permanent place on your record shelf.
Being devoted collectors of classic R&B and soul records, creating a live album was something the band always thought about. The Dakota Jazz Club was a welcome stop after touring throughout Europe, and after securing the booking, Secret Stash Records founder and Lakers drummer, Eric Foss, realized that it would be one of the final opportunities to capture the show before tearing it apart and building a new one. Sonny Knight recalls, “We played that show for such a long time that things were just right. Things had already been tweaked, everything was there, and everything was ready to go.”
Sonny Knight and the Lakers were ready to show their fans just how their live show had evolved and how different it had become from their studio recordings. Knight explains, “We’re very proud of the studio work we do, and we will continue to do it. But, we want to share the raw energy of our live show with more people.” He adds, “We want to set ourselves apart from some of the other acts out there playing soul music today.”
In preparation for the recording, every band member immersed themselves in live records. From Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin to Fela Kuti, they consumed each piece as education and inspiration. Sam Cooke Live at Harlem Square was their go to during this time. “It’s a great example of an artist who cut silky smooth records putting on a raucous show.” He adds, “If you watch videos of James Brown performing in the 60s, that band is sweating their asses off. I have this image burned into my mind of Clyde Stubblefield dripping sweat and looking exhausted while playing the baddest drum break ever.”
The hard-soul powerhouse that is Sonny Knight & The Lakers were named one of “The Best New Minnesota Musicians of 2014” via the City Pages, to topping the Star Tribune’s list of best live act of 2014 due to their “high-energy..funk-blasting” shows. National outlets such as NPR’s World Café professed the album is “New “old-school” soul music,” and that “it captures the singer sounding as vital as ever…a wonderful album.” WBEZ’s Sound Opinionseven prophesized that “It sounds like a live recording…It has that sort of vibrancy to it, and Sonny Knight is the goods with his vocal power.”
Asked what he thought about his latest achievement of recording a live album after many years outside of the music industry, Sonny Knight muses: “Doing this record took away a lot of fears. There is always something to learn. But I’m not afraid anymore… I feel like we can do anything right now.”