Sonny Knight & the Lakers, Bumpus | Bottom Lounge | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader
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Sonny Knight & the Lakers, Bumpus 

When: Thu., March 26, 8 p.m. 2015
Price: $12
Minneapolis’s Sonny Knight is the latest vintage soul singer to experience sudden late-career success engineered by folks one-third his age. In 1965, when he was 17, he cut a single as Little Sonny Knight & the Cymbals, but later he let an extended stint in the military interrupt his career. He performed in fits and starts over the ensuing decades, and in 2012 was invited by another reunited soul group called the Valdons to join them for a live revue organized by the reissue label Secret Stash. Label cofounder and drummer Eric Foss was so taken with the singer’s pipes and presence that he ended up forming the Lakers to serve as Knight’s backing band. Labels like Daptone and Truth & Soul have rejuvenated the careers of other soul vets who never attracted much attention at younger ages (e.g., Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields), and last year’s I’m Still Here (Secret Stash) follows that model with a slew of new songs that mix James Brown-style hard funk with soul balladry mining the Muscle Shoals sound. Knight’s funk stuff—like “Juicy Lucy” and “Through With You”—works as party fodder, but it’s not especially distinctive. Ballads like the title track, which includes the singer’s recitation of a survivor’s tale, or the desperately imploring “When You’re Gone” hit harder and draw out his earthy, authoritative voice. —Peter Margasak
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