Sonny Knight & The Lakers have become a hometown favorite to Minneapolis. They’re leading a revival of soul music not only in the twin cities, but arguably the upper Midwest. It’s not going unnoticed either. The First Avenue Mainroom was packed this past Saturday night, concertgoers chilled from the cold October evening filed into the mainroom, warming themselves up with the soul stew Sonny Knight had brewing up that night.
First on the menu for the release party was Big Wave Dave and the Ripples, A nine piece tour-de-force that kept the audience dancing through their entire set. They did incredible covers of some of the biggest soul hits of the sixties and seventies. You wouldn’t expect that much soul to come from nine middle aged men from duluth. Their set was upbeat and a lot of fun, and perfect to get the audience warmed up for the rest of the night.
Nooky Jones is a name that keeps popping up around town. If you haven’t seen them yet, know this: They’re smooth. Really smooth. The smallest group of the night (at only six members) gave the audience some warmth, with frontman Cameron Kinghorn commanding the stage. He effortlessly hit high notes while concurrently conducting his band, blending jazz and R&B, and a two piece horn section throwing some soul on top. Towards the end of his set he sang his signature Sweet Wine, and it was difficult not to see him as some sort of reverend, preaching a sermon of soul music. “You know” he said between songs “This party’s just getting started. If you’re feeling this right now, let me hear you.”
Shortly after Nooky Jones, Sonny Knight entered the stage after an introduction from the Lakers. The stage was filled for the duration of the show. Projections played on a screen behind the band, with the lakers expanding themselves to upwards of 16 members. A four piece horn section, four vocalists from James Grear and Company, two drummers, two dancers, a guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, and the Lion of Lyndale himself. Although the stage was packed, Sonny still found room to do his thing, making his way from one side of the stage to the other while moving and grooving to his songs. Its tough to find a band who looks like they’re enjoying themselves just as much as the audience is. The Lakers were nothing but smiles and laughs as they played their way through the set. It was, after all, a celebration. Sonny Knight and the Lakers completed their new album Sooner Or Later earlier this year, and it’s set for release on October 14th. After a two song encore, Sonny thanked the crowd with a loud applause. “Thank you all for coming out” he exclaimed. “This is so special to me. You all know how to make a party work!”
Sooner Or Later can be found wherever music is sold on October 14th.
Photos and Words By Casey Carlson, with special co-writing appearance by Dan Stein