DID YOU READ

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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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