Daptone studios, photo by Jacob Blickenstaff


The traditional home of funk, soul and Motown has always been Detroit. Yet, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, there’s one hold-out, a genuine soul label: Daptone. Daptone will celebrate its 10th anniversary this December with a limited edition vinyl LP release and a series of New York concerts—most of which are now sold out—with Daptone artists. Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings will be headlining alongside Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens and the Sugarman 3 as alternating openers. These shows are book-ended by Charles Bradley playing Bowery Ballroom on December 3 and the Budos Band hosting a New Year’s Eve show at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg.
 
Artists like the Supremes, Martha Reeves And The Vandellas and the Four Tops started the heat on the Motown sound, and Daptone has kept that fire burning. What sets the groups on Daptone apart is that they’re not simply recreating the sound or paying homage to it—they’re carrying the genre forward and transcending mere tribute. When you hear Sharon Jones sing, it’s not a riff on Reeves—it’s something fresh. Which is why you should mark your calendars for November 25, Black Friday, when the limited edition pressings of Jones’ Soul Time! will be available at indie record stores only.
 
Daptone, founded by Dap-Kings members Neal Sugarman and Gabriel Roth, began with a rough start after Roth’s previous label Desco shut down in 2000. Roth soon got an offer from a boutique label and, based only on a handshake, borrowed money to get recording equipment to track Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings’ first album. The advance on the record never materialized. Fortunately, Jones was offered a residency in Barcelona, Spain, giving the group time to practice together. Meanwhile, Sugarman was struggling to get his band, the Sugarman 3, an independent record deal. He approached Roth, and they decided to do it themselves. Armed only with a logo Roth had doodled while temping at Sony Records Distribution, the duo embarked on a perilous quest to live the dream.
 
They bought a two-family home in Bushwick and started tearing the place apart, hoping to build Daptone’s permanent home. It was after they’d dismantled the heating system that a financial deal went belly up in the dead of winter. Forging ahead, they tapped whatever resources they could. Friends came to help with the construction, trading labor and supplies for credit on future recording sessions. They built their recording booths from old tires taken off the street and sewn together with clippings from a sweatshop dumpster.
 
The years that followed were an unprecedented success for Daptone. Leading on the strength of Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings’ records, the label flourished into what it is today.
 
Tickets for a few of the celebration’s shows are still available. Check below for details on where to wish Daptone a happy 10th birthday.
 
Daptone 10-Year Anniversary Shows:
12/03 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom – Charles Bradley And His Extraordinaires
12/06 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall Of Williamsburg – Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens
12/07 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall Of Williamsburg – Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, Sugarman 3
12/13 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom – Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, Sugarman 3
12/14 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom – Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens
12/31 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall Of Williamsburg – Budos Band