2014’s I’m Still Here advanced Sonny Knight to the venerable ranks of rejuvenated soul belters. He was backed on the LP by the Lakers, a young and energetic gang of Minneapolis-based R&B acolytes, and the pairing has reemerged with a four-sided performance bonanza. Captured during a two-night stand last December in front of a hometown crowd, it provides ample evidence of Knight’s aptitude for vocalizing and showmanship; behind him the Lakers are a tight and relentless sonic machine. Do It Live is currently available from Secret Stash, and the first 300 copies of the 2LP are on orange vinyl.
Sonny Knight’s career began in the mid-‘60s; as a teenager he fronted and cut a 45 as leader of the Cymbols, though his musical pursuits were curbed by subsequent US military service in Korea and Vietnam. Upon returning, he spent time in California before moving back to Minneapolis and hooking up with funk/R&B outfit Haze. Disco’s commercial crash reportedly spelled the end of that act; thereafter Knight took up truck-driving as a vocation.
His reemergence is directly related to a budding relationship with the Minneapolis-based Secret Stash label. Devoted to soul, funk, African, and Latin recordings predominantly of ‘60s and ‘70s vintage, Secret Stash is run by Eric Foss, who also plays in the enterprise’s house band the Lakers. Amongst the imprint’s worthy reissues is 2012’s Twin Cities Funk & Soul: Lost R&B Grooves From Minneapolis/St. Paul 1964-1979, a dilly of a geographical comp offering selections from The Valdons, Wanda Davis, the Prophets of Peace, Morris Wilson, Willie Walker, and more.
Secret Stash additionally booked studio-time for Wanda Davis and The Valdons as assorted gigs were scheduled; amidst the activity the call was made for Knight’s abilities. As the frequency of these assists increased, little time was wasted in devising a scheme to combine vocalist and band, an entity comprised of Foss on drums, Sam Harvey-Carlson on organ, Blair Krivanek on guitar, Casey O’Brien on bass, Bryan Highhill on trumpet, Cole Pulice on sax, and Tony Beaderstadt on trombone.