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Exclusive Premiere: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “Game Gets Old: the Trilogy”

Exclusive Premiere: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “Game Gets Old: the Trilogy”  (photo)

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If you’ve ever heard the needle dropped on a Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings 45, you know how expertly their music invokes the sounds of 60’s and early 70’s soul. And if you’ve ever seen them live, you know how effortlessly they can transport you there, like well-dressed deep soul time travelers. Director Philip Di Fiore captured this phenomenon in a three-part short film, which we have here for the first time in it’s entirety, “Game Gets Old: the Trilogy.”

Feast on that below and then read the chat I had with Sharon Jones over the phone while she was in Queens with her Mom — we had to put our conversation on hold more than once while Jones took care of business and looked after her Mom’s health. It’s plain that she’s still struggling after all these years but she and independent Brooklyn label, Daptone, have come very far sticking to their guns. We talked about that, along with Martin Luther King, how the Dap-Kings would never touch Auto-Tune, and this dreamy memory she has of seeing James Brown perform in a little club in 1969.


You might remember me from the old days, when I was booking you up in Milwaukee, back in like ’03, just before you guys started really blowing up outside of NY. You’ve come a long way since then.

You know, we did so many shows, but yeah. Yeah, one of the first ones that got us out there, get us started in the Midwest, and then stuff started happening. Oh, yes we finally, we’ve come a long way. And we still have a long way to go, but yeah. Thank you.

Back then you guys were cutting 45’s like “Make it Good to Me” that I still keep right next to the turntable, it’s so good. How has your sound changed since then?

Yeah, I haven’t sang that song in a long time, too! [laugh] I think, we’ve changed over the years, from 2003 to now, definitely changed. The band has gotten stronger. The band has gotten tighter. Because, at that time, the drummer was still messing up beats, still learning how to hold a beat, you know? [laughter] And I mean, I remember the first two years, it took him a while, you know, to get the hang of things. So um, yeah, I think we’ve come along a little bit. You know we, by listening to all these old classics over the years, we just got more ideas. We’ve got the horns, and then we got violins. Strings to me just add, they make it sweet, you know? We’ve matured. We’ve grown.

You grew up in James Brown’s hometown in Georgia right?

Actually, I was born in Augusta, but I really grew up in New York. You know, my mom would let us go back south during the summers, after I turned like uh, maybe 7. You know you start going to school she would let us go back and forth every summer, to spend some time with my father.

Ah so just part time. What kind of impression did that town and James Brown leave on you?

One particular year, we had, went down there one of those summers and James Brown showed up at this small little club. I remember him showing up, I was standing at the bottom of the stage. And I know at the time, my father was still alive, I was about 13. I’m standing there, eye level to the stage, and I remember, James Brown coming on — he just floated clear across the stage. And I was like, “Look Daddy, he’s floating!” [laughter] So years later in New York when these guys [The Dap-Kings] were doing this James Brown, JB’s thing and wanted me to come in and sing for them it was right up my alley. That’s what got them started with the funk, you know, that was the era of funk we started with.

I don’t know if you’ll go there for me but, who’s your favorite Dap-King?

I don’t, my favorite Dap-King? I don’t have a favorite. [laugh] I don’t have a favorite one, because we’re a band, we’re like a family, you know? I mean, you know what? Maybe, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, but if it wasn’t for this Dap-King I wouldn’t be with them. And that’s Gabe Roth.

You guys have been collaborating with others in recent years, like Amy Winehouse. How are you feeling about her these days?

Well that whole thing was great I mean that, if you really look at it, it put Daptone on the map, people started noticing. Mark [Ronson, who produced Amy Winehouse’s critically acclaimed 2006 record “Back to Black,” heavily featuring the Dap-Kings] already knew about us, Amy [Winehouse] too. You know we been out here since the late 90’s, and all this stuff that happened in 2005. Whether they admit it we inspired all this new soul stuff. It’s all good. They won an award for that, but we’ll get ours in our own due time.

Who you looking forward to making music with in the future, any projects in the works?

Whoever wants to come! I mean, look at the, the thing with Michael Bublé. That, that was a big plus with his album and [the song] “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes).” Um, David Byrne, you know? I’ve done something with Booker T. I did something collaborating with him on a couple of songs, that’s not out yet. I know I’m missing names. We also did this thing, Night of Too Many Stars with Comedy Central for autism. All these movie stars, and actors, and comedians, doing this show, I was thrilled. I would love to do a movie. Maybe we can do a whole soundtrack of a movie. You never know.

Well you did some sound track work for Denzel Washington’s film “The Great Debaters.”

Yes I have some songs on that soundtrack. And it sounds great!

How did that come about?

You know that was SXSW. And that particular year I didn’t want to do it, lot of young kids, and we got to pay for this and that, the hotel, but it was all worth it. Somebody saw me there and then when Denzel was looking for singer, somebody said, “I know this band with a great singer, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.” They got in touch with my manager and had me sing this song, “I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl.” Denzel saw that and next thing I know he said, “I want her.” So that’s how I got that, by doing a gig at SXSW.

I love the look of this film you guys did with Phillip Di Fiore, the vintage feel it has, how it invokes old Stax and Blue Note record covers.

Yeah it looks cool. When Phillip brought that idea to us, not everyone got it, you know with the knife, that big knife I have [laughter] but I got it. And everyone looks so good.

You guys don’t just have a vintage sound, you live it. And I’ve seen you all dressed up to go out, you even look like you walked out of the late 60’s.

[laughs] Oh yeah I used to go to the vintage stores, buy all my dresses, but I haven’t been there in years. I have all that stuff made for me like that now.

I caught you on the “Colbert Report” a few months back and you seemed firmly against modernizing your approach. What do you think about all these kids these days listening to music on phones and shit. You all right with that?

Yeah, I mean, we’re doing our own thing but that’s all right. That’s modern times. That’s how a lot of kids are hearing us, so that’s all right. But, we’re sticking to our own thing.

What about Auto-Tune, would we ever Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings put through Auto-Tune?

[laughs] No, not Daptone, we’re not interested.

Over Gabe Roth and Neal Sugarman’s dead bodies?

Oh my God, I wouldn’t even, I wouldn’t even ask. Oh my God. I’d have to go into somebody else’s record label and sing with somebody else to be singing Auto-Tune soul [laughter].

If you could live inside of a film, what film would that be?

Oh that’s something to think about [laugh]. You know what? I would say this, something that I missed coming up, you made me think — that film would be — when they filmed Martin Luther King doing his “I Have a Dream” speech. I wasn’t there you know? And I never got a chance to be around ’cause I was young. Just to be near that man, right beside him, while he was doing that speech.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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