Last year was a rather large and perhaps unexpected year for the Minneapolis, MN-based soul act Sonny Knight and the Lakers, as their debut effort, I’m Still Here received local, national and international attention – City Pages named the act one of “Minnesota’s Best New Musicians;” the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, listed them as one of the area’s best live acts; NPR’s World Cafe and WBEZ’s Sound Opinion among others praised I’m StIll Here for it’s vibrant, live show-like sound. And as a result, the act spent the bulk of 2014 with a rather busy touring schedule that included tours across both the US and Europe.
With over a year of steady touring, the act’s live set grew from just including the material off their critically acclaimed debut effort to including re-imagined and re-worked bits from Led Zeppelin, James Brown, classic soul covers and covers from local soul acts. Channeling some of the great and beloved live albums – think of B.B. King’s Live at Cook County Prison, James Brown’s Live at the Apollo 1962 and others – Sonny Knight and his Lakers recorded a live album, Sonny Knight and the Lakers Do It Live based over two nights and four performances at the Dakota Jazz Club. Building up buzz and support for the live album, Sonny Knight and the Lakers have been touring (and it included a stop a Celebrate Brooklyn last week), as well as live sessions at a variety of radio stations.
Recently, the band appeared on Minneapolis’ The Current (89.3 FM) to perform a loose, party-hardy, party-friendly version of “Juicy Lucy” off I’m Still There, complete with Knight, his backing band and his backing singers shouting in absolute joy – and it shows how absolutely tight the band is. Not only does it give a sense of how fantastic Sonny and his Lakers are live, it also gives a sense of the fact that there sets feel improvised – as though everyone is in each other’s heads. And the song is a fun, summer song, about wanting to talk to and get to know the finest woman at the bar or the club.