Sonny Knight And The Lakers To Record Live Album

Dec 2014
Come attend the live album recording in Minneapolis

Come attend the live album recording in Minneapolis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SONNY KNIGHT AND THE LAKERS ANNOUNCE HOMETOWN SHOWS

Sonny Knight and the Lakers Bring the Soul Back to Minneapolis With Four Back to Back Shows at the Dakota, December 18th and 19th, To Be Recorded for Upcoming Live Album

 

For Sonny Knight and the Lakers, 2014 was equal parts unexpected and deserved. The creation of their debut album, I’m Still Here, nearly 50 years after a young Sonny recorded his first single, began a tidal wave of accomplishments that includes a successful international tour, critical attention from NPR’s World Café and WBEZ’s Sound Opinions, and plenty of love from their hometown of Minneapolis. Sonny Knight and the Lakers celebrate their fabulous year with shows at the Dakota Jazz Club on Thursday, December 18th (7:00pm and 9:00pm) and Friday, December 19th (7:00pm and 9:30pm). For the final show on Friday night, all tables and chairs will be removed from the main floor to allow for maximum dance space. Fans will have a chance to be a part of an upcoming live album as local record label Secret Stash will record all four shows and release the best set next year via double lp and cd packages.

 

Secret Stash Records Founder and Lakers’ drummer Eric Foss says, “The exciting thing about doing this live recording is that we have performed the show around the world for the last year, and it has slowly developed into something that can’t be contained in a studio recording. We want to bring that energy back to our hometown and to our first and most loyal fans.”   Keeping with the band’s aesthetic, the label will record the shows straight to ¼” 2 track tape, meaning it will be mixed live and whatever they leave with Friday night will pretty much be the finished product.  “We’re looking forward to setting up shop for a couple days, playing as hard as we can, and then taking away a very real representation of the show and putting it on a record.”

 

From headlining spots at local festival favorites such as The Red Stag Block Party and The Lyn-Lake Festival (among many others), to being deemed one of the “The Best New Minnesota Musicians of 2014” via the City Pages “Picked to Click” poll, soul connoisseurs to novice music listeners alike have embraced the band. The City Pages called their I’m Still Here album release party at the iconic First Avenue Mainroom in May “truly spectacular…joyful and spontaneous, largely thanks to Knight’s beaming personality,” and critics from The Star Tribune, The Current, KFAI and other local media outlets have all spilled ink and filled airwaves about Sonny Knight and the Lakers’ rollicking live shows.

 

The story of Sonny Knight is an unexpected narrative. While most people’s careers are wrapping up by the time they hit Sonny’s age, this 66 year old has only just begun his reinvention. Sonny recorded his first single at the age of 17, only to find his chance at success halted by a stint in the army and later, a steady, full-time job as a truck driver. Unbeknownst to Sonny, that lone 7” record he cut as a teenager (“Tears On My Pillow” B/W “Rain Dance”) had become a prized item in R&B collector circles in the ensuing decades and his powerful voice had not been forgotten. The opportunity to push the reset button on a long and interrupted career arrived in the form of an invitation to join the reformed Valdons as part of Secret Stash’s Twin Cities Funk & Soul release party in late 2012.

 

After six months of touring and performing to promote the compilation, Eric and Sonny decided to form Sonny Knight and the Lakers. Months of gaining ground in their hometown and touring regionally was followed by preparations for their debut record. I’m Still Here is the product of many hours of collaborative thought and crate digging for and listening to forgotten ‘60s and early ‘70s soul and funk records that clearly permeate all the album’s tracks. The album covers a wide range of tempos and soul forms ranging from upbeat booglaoos to beautiful ballads. NPR’s World Café called the album “wonderful” and noted that “it captures the singer sounding as vital as ever,” while WBEZ’s Sound Opinions proclaimed that Sonny Knight is “a vocal powerhouse.” Sonny’s exuberance and energy, pushed by the hard-soul grooves of the Lakers—as he, in turn, pushes them to new heights as well—are what grab the listener; there’s never any doubt about what feelings he wants to convey.

 

Nearly 50 years have passed since his first recording, but for the first time he feels like the center of attention. He says, “Sometimes I wonder, why me? Why are all these great things happening now? All I can say is thanks. These are dreams that I had forgotten. Only now that they are starting to come true do I remember that I had them at all.”

 

The Dakota Jazz Club Show Information

 

Thursday December 18th, 2014 @ 7:00pm / $20 [Ticket Link]

 

Thursday December 18th, 2014 @ 9:00pm / $20 [Ticket Link]

 

Friday December 19th, 2014 @ 7:00pm / $25 [Ticket Link]

 

Friday December 19th, 2014 @ 9:00pm /$25 [Ticket Link]

 

SECRET STASH SUPER SOUL SHAKEDOWN

Aug 2014

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We are excited to announce the “SECRET STASH SUPER SOUL SHAKEDOWN” coming up Friday, August 29 at First Ave‘s Mainroom!
 
Starting at 10:00 PM, DJ Steely of World Wide Discotheque and KFAI’s Kinda Cloudy Radio, DJ Paper Sleeves, DJ Brad Wrolstad of KFAI’s African Rhythms, and Secret Stash’s Will Gilbert will be playing non-stop soul, funk, African, and Latin to the early hours!
 
Only $5 will get you a whole night of dancing and good times! You can’t beat that. Check out First Ave for more details and to buy tickets.

Secret Stash Records / Sonny Knight Mini-Documentary

Apr 2014

Secret Stash and Sonny Knight & The Lakers are the subject of a new mini-documentary produced by Minnesota Original, a program that airs on Twin Cities Public Television, our local PBS affiliate. The crew was a ton of fun to work with and we were VERY impressed with the amount of work they put into their productions. They are top notch pros. Anyhow, here it is. We hope you dig it.

New Sonny Knight & The Lakers Album and Release Party

Mar 2014
ssr-33 sonny knight album cover

Sonny Knight & The Lakers “I’m Still Here” album cover

 

On April 29th, 2014, the debut album from Sonny Knight & The Lakers, I’m Still Here, will be released in the US by Secret Stash Records on LP, CD, and digitally. For Sonny Knight, the making of his debut album nearly 50 years after recording his first single has effectively pushed the reset button on a long and interrupted career, bringing it around full circle musically and geographically. He and his new backing band, the Lakers, recorded I’m Still Here in a subterranean Minneapolis studio a scant seven blocks away from the basement studio beneath a long shuttered record store where he recorded his first 45 (as Little Sonny Knight & The Cymbols) in 1965 at age 17. 

Shortly thereafter, music took a back seat to a three-year stint in the army. A few more years in the Bay Area followed, before he returned to Minnesota in the mid-1970s and joined the now-cult favorite funk group Haze. By the early ‘80s, Haze had broken up and Sonny walked away from music for a full time job as a truck driver.

Unbeknownst to Sonny, not only had that lone 7” record he cut as a teenager (“Tears On My Pillow” B/W “Rain Dance”) become a prized item in R&B collector circles in the ensuing decades, his powerful voice had not been forgotten. In the 1990s, vocalists Monroe Wright and Maurice Young (formerly of Minneapolis soul legends the Valdons) extended him an invitation to join their new group, The Bachelors. When the Valdons were revived in 2012 in celebration of Secret Stash Records’ Twin Cities Funk & Soul compilation, Wright and Young tapped Knight as a new member.

After six months of working together on shows promoting Twin Cities Funk & Soul, Sonny and Secret Stash founder / in-house funky drummer Eric Foss formed Sonny Knight and The Lakers. In the spring of 2013, Sonny and the Lakers hit the ground running – playing gigs a few short weeks after their first rehearsal. Within months they had grown into their own as a band. In the fall, Sonny and the guys spent a long weekend at a cabin in Northern Minnesota and it became a defining moment. Staying up late, listening to old 45s, learning gospel songs, and wood shedding tunes was a way for the band to develop a similar vocabulary and refine their direction. It transformed them from a group of good players into a band. When they returned home, they set up a string of performances and residencies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. By the end of their residency at the Eagles club in South Minneapolis, virtually no breaks interrupted or slowed down their live sets. Non-stop rehearsals and live performances helped The Lakers tighten up their sound. That, coupled with the inspiration found during the cabin trip, laid the ground work for recording an album.

The way I’m Still Here was recorded was the product of many months of thought, just as the songs on the album were developed over hours of collaborative effort for Sonny and the band. The album covers a wide range of tempos and soul forms ranging from upbeat booglaoos, to beautiful ballads. Since the Lakers were spearheaded by a reissue label focused on obscure music, the band encompasses more than just Motown and Stax inspired sounds. The many hours spent digging for and listening to forgotten sixties and early seventies soul and funk records have practically oozed into the rehearsal space and studio. What stands out most are the strong performances by the band and Sonny’s exuberance and energy. As a listener, there’s never any doubt about what feelings he wants to convey.

Nearly fifty years have passed since Knight’s first recording, but for the first time he feels like the center of attention. He says, “Sometimes I wonder, why me? Why are all these great things happening now? All I can say is thanks. These are dreams that I had forgotten. Only now that they are starting to come true do I remember that I had them at all.”

To celebrate the April 29th release of I’m Still Here, Sonny Knight & The Lakers will headline a release party on May 3rd at Frist Avenue’s Main Room (Minneapolis).  The large scale show promises to be the greatest event produced by Secret Stash yet.  With the help of First Avenue and sponsors 89.3 The Current and The Electric Fetus, as well as supporting acts The Honeydogs and Southside Desire, this promises to be a night never to forget.