In a nice bit of news on an anxiety-ridden Election Day, the city council of North Augusta, South Carolina voted unanimously to name a new outdoor amphitheater in the town after Sharon Jones, the powerhouse soul singer who fronted the Dap-Kings and passed away in 2016 from cancer.
Jones grew up near the location of the Riverside Village Amphitheater, which will soon be rechristened the Sharon Jones Amphitheater. The news was first reported by Rolling Stone.
“This is so cool,” says Gabe Roth — a.k.a. Bosco Mann — bassist and de facto leader of the Dap-Kings. “It’s great to have a place where people will hit the stage and think of her. She would have been thrilled.”
The council hearing was attended by members of Jones’ family. “She would be flabbergasted right now,” Jones’ sister Willia Stringer tells Rolling Stone. “We didn’t live far from there. My father used to walk down with us down to the river. Back then, there was nothing there but trees and the river.”
The venue-renaming plan began with Jones’ friend, Augusta Chronicle columnist Don Rhodes, who wrote about the idea in his column and pitched it to the mayor of the town of 23,000 people. “I kept harping on him,” Rhodes tells Rolling Stone. “In North Augusta, there’s no public park or building named after a black citizen, and I said it was the right thing to do. And who else should be it named for? There’s nobody else from North Augusta who had that kind of worldwide fame.”
While mayor Robert Pettit said he was not familiar with Jones’ music, he says, “She was certainly well known, and we talked about it enough times so that people were aware of her and the idea.”
A posthumous covers album by Jones and the Dap-Kings, “Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Rendition Was In,” dropped last month.
Plans call for a dedication ceremony for the venue in March, pandemic allowing.