Don’t Leave Me This Way: The Rebirth of Soul

While the heyday of soul may be fifty years in the past with the likes of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Wilson, a new swell of artists influenced by these early pioneers is rising and moving audiences around the country. Marked by strong frontmen and women, these folks have moves and energy straight from a James Brown playbook and backing bands that have licks of their own. Be prepared to have your soul stirred and, if you’re like me, end up with a goofy, strained grimace on your face and an air mic primed for lip syncing.

  • Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings :: The mother of this new movement, Sharon Jones, and her Dap-Kings have been paving the way for the past decade.  Last year, Jones was diagnosed with cancer but has undergone treatment and is back on the road. They visit the Gothic this Monday (March 17th) with one of my favorite new artists, Valerie June.
  • Alabama Shakes :: Alabama Shakes take more of a southern rock approach to soul and have already garnered two Grammy nominations in their short life as a band.  They are working on their sophomore album and have alluded that it will be a departure from Boys and Girls.
  • Nick Waterhouse :: To hear Waterhouse’s music, it’s hard to believe he cut his teeth in the Orange County rock scene opening for the likes of Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin. He’s a crooner with horn section that will blast you back in time. He just released his second album, Holly, this month.
  • Charles Bradley :: Nicknamed the “Screaming Eye of Soul,” Bradley is older than anyone else listed, but didn’t release a proper album until 2011 when he was signed by Daptone Records. He dabbled in music in entire life, but hard circumstances never allowed him to fully pursue it until his 50s. He often collaborates with the Menahan Street Band who are also worth checking out.
  • Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears :: From the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Joe Lewis honed his chops with soul and blues artists before convening the Honeybears. They’ll be playing Denver Day of Rock at Skyline Park this Memorial Day weekend (and it’s FREE!).
  • JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound :: Their sound is self-described as “soul music by children of the post-punk era.” Take a listen and see if you agree. If nothing else, check out their take of fellow Chicagoans, Wilco’s, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart on Brooks’ album, Want More.
  • St. Paul & The Broken Bones :: With their debut album released this month, these are the latest and most buzz-worthy of this bunch. Frontman Paul Janeway can sing and move with the best of them in the most soulful and nerdiest of ways. ’m sure they will have the Hi-Dive dancing when they visit on April 15th.
  • Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats :: Last but certainly not least, local stalwart, Rateliff has created the Night Sweats to further exercise his soulful spirit. While they lack any official releases save for pressing a 7 inch, their live shows are a force to be reckoned. Here’s a video to entice you.

Written by Bobby on March 17, 2014


Laurie. on March 17, 2014


Thank you for your blog. I am singing right now! One of my new favorites is Janelle Monáe. Do you think some of her stuff would fall into this category?

Josh J on March 18, 2014


This is a good list, I stumbled upon Sharon Jones a few months ago and was blown away. I also listened to Eli Reed's "Come and get it"...a very good new soul album as well.

Bobby on March 18, 2014


Laurie - I still haven't listened to Janelle Monae although it's been recommended to me numerous times. I should really give it a spin!

Josh J - Thanks for the suggestion. Looks like we own copies. I'll pick one up today.

Cori on April 1, 2014


Thanks for this blog, Bobby! I checked out a Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings CD from DPL and I AM HOOKED!!! Can't wait to hear more.

Leyla Eraybar on April 6, 2014


Thanks for sharing this!

Leave a comment