Live Concert Photography: Celebrate Brooklyn Dance Party: Sonny Knight and the Lakers
Brooklyn Bridge Park
May 14, 2015
Thanks in part to the proliferation of independent record labels across the country and the world, soul music has seen a resurgence in popularity as contemporary acts have take up the old school sound and has created the resurrection of the careers of a number of sadly forgotten artists who have toiled around in obscurity including Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields and others. Similar to Lee Fields, the Minneapolis, MN-based soul singer Sonny Knight originally released a single in 1965 with a backing band The Cymbols that was a regional hit. However, his music career took a back seat after a three-year stint in the Army and a brief relocation in the Bay Area.
In the early 70s Knight returned to Minnesota and joined the cult-favorite funk act Haze. And although Knight saw some measure of success as a performer, when Haze split up, Knight had considered his music career over, and started a full-time job as a truck driver. Interestingly, over the years as Knight considered his music career as a distant part of his past but that first single Knight recorded all of those years ago had increasingly become a prized collector’s item among soul and R&B record collectors. And in fact, as the single became prized, there was also an increased interest in what had happened to Knight.
By the 90s, Monroe Write and Maurice Young, who were founding members of the Twin Cities soul act, The Valdons had reunited around the release of Secret Stash Records’ Twin Cities Funk and Soul Compilation and the duo of Wright and Young recruited Knight to be a member of the group for their reunion tour. This offer wound up being one of the biggest things to ever happen to Knight’s music career. After a few months of working together on shows to support Twin Cities Funk and Soul, Knight and Secret Stash founder and in-house drummer Eric Foss founded Sonny Knight and the Lakers. Within a few weeks they and begun playing gigs and within a few months of playing together the band set to record a full-length album – Knight’s debut effort, I’m Still Here, an album recorded in a basement studio, a few blocks from the basement studio beneath the long-shuttered Minneapolis-based record store where Knight had recorded his first single almost 50 years earlier.
Released last April, the album and it’s lusty first single “Hey Girl” were released to critical acclaim across the country as it manages to capture the sound and spirit of Knight and his Lakers at a live show. And as a result of the national attention the Twin Cities act has received, the band has embarked on a rather busy touring schedule that included a stop at Brooklyn Bridge Park to kick off the Celebrate Brooklyn Festival season. And as always, Knight and his Lakers were incredible with Knight proving that he’s a consummate performer, who can get a crowd into the palm of his hands.
For the photos above and for more, check out the Flickr set here: