Bosco Mann aka Gabriel Roth: Dap King

this one started to go really badly but i think we turned it in to a story


By Huwston

Within the rise and rise to prominence of the contemporary Funk scene, key figures have emerged as heroes of the genre. Uber producers, ultra singers and charismatic front-people like Sharon Jones and Dap King bandleader Bosco Mann are the beautiful pattern on one very rich tapestry.

Bosco Mann usually leaves the interviews to Sharon, the becoming Soul singer from Georgia who has become a darling-heart to anyone who’s ever heard the bands albums Dap Dippin or last years incredible Naturally. He comes across as very humble, particularly when he and his contemporaries like Miles Tackett of Breakestra are spoken in the same breath as luminaries like Glenn Miller.

‘I wouldn’t put myself in that category, I just work for the band,’ he says. Time will tell and when considering just how much the scene is flourishing it is important to have such leaders, still, Bosco plays it cool.

‘Musically it’s not really a question of being in the studio and asking ‘would it sell better?’’ he says when pressed about how he makes it so funky and pays no attention to the fact that this style of music is becoming some kind of valuable commodity.

‘We’re doing the music exactly how we want to. (In reference to Cadbury using their music for a TV advertisement) There’s an integrity of artists intentions… we’re not licensing music for something we have ethical compromises for like Nike.’

It was somewhat of a joy to hear a raw deep funk track blasting from the television amongst all of the faux-beats you usually hear in commercials and it echoes the thoughts of Keb Darge who told me in 2005 that Funk was becoming supermarket music over the UK: Mission accomplished, thank you. With a Gospel raised songstress from Augusta, Georgia and a ‘fifty-five year old black man that’s been reincarnated and came back as a thirty-year old Jewish boy’ (Sharon Jones in Wax Poetics issue 13), there was bound to be a wealth of differing spiritual experience in the group that surely makes up the framework for the band and its success.

‘We’re all of different kinds of paths and beliefs, I mean we don’t drink coolade together or anything, we roll as a family, it would be hard to deny that. (As far as people having a spiritual reaction to their music) I’m happy if I changed their constitution that day, made them feel better. Sharon can be really electrifying on stage, she can heal according to what some people say of the show.’

When pinned about the irony that this secular music allows people to enter a spiritual realm (i.e hands in the air) Bosco is discreet.

‘I would say it’s more of a continuum – soulful music is the most secular thing you can make, but music can be on the edge of the religious and the natural.’ Naturally, the hard working ethic comes in to play and after doing over one hundred and fifty shows last year, running the Daptone label and producing records such as Naomi Davis’ upcoming Gospel album, there’s not much time for breaks.   The band are coming to Australia for the first time to play the Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival and select shows in Sydney & Melbourne after the phenomenal success of Naturally and a really excited about the jaunt.

‘I have friends who live there who say they heard us on radio. We’re on college radio here in the States but not like all the love we get out there. I hope that the tour – and the strongest thing we have is the live show, it’s more exciting than the record… I think it is our biggest selling point.’

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings play East Coast Blues & Roots Festival Easter weekend, The Forum (Melb) 16/4, Gaelic Theatre (Syd) 20/4 and Prince Of Wales (Melb) 23/4. Naturally is now available with a bonus disc thru Daptone/Reverberation. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


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