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Nooky Jones

Feb 06, 2018

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Local neo-soul/R&B group Nooky Jones has effectively established themselves as one of my favorite live acts in Minneapolis. On a freezing Thursday night, they took to the stage of the Dakota Jazz Club for their first appearance at the beautiful venue and absolutely blew away the unsuspecting crowd with a seductively electrifying set that left me, along with everyone else in the club, with a feeling of pure astonishment.

Playing to a sold out crowd at the Dakota for the first of two shows of the night, front man Cameron Kinghorn, drummer Reid Kennedy, trumpeter Adam Meckler, trombonist Scott Agster, keyboardist Kevin Gastonguay, and bassist Andrew Foreman brought effortless style to their performance from beginning to end. From the moment the band came out, they didn’t waste a second getting into the music, kicking things off with the closing track, “Moment in Time”, from their debut, self-titled, album. A track that closes the album with a gentle lull into peaceful bliss. However, this performance of it was anything but a lull into peace. Cameron and company brought a completely new energy to the track that featured a blasting chorus and a demonstration of raw talent in a solo by keys player Kevin Gastonguay, a solo that would only be one of many throughout the night. The band then effortlessly exploded into a cover of D’Angelo’s “Feel Like Making Love”. Another beautifully peaceful song given new life by Nooky Jones, adding dirty drums and a heart wrenchingly seductive horn section, perfectly capped off by what must have been a 5-minute keyboard solo from Gastonguay that floored the entire audience. As the night continued, they played more songs from their album like the powerful “The Way I See You”, a funky rendition of “After One” that was flawlessly sewn into “Sweet Wine” which was then flawlessly sewn into “Hello” to end their set. They even brought things way down and pulled out one of their gentler songs “You and I” just for the sake of being in such an intimate venue. The whole performance was powerful and only got more powerful as the band took the stage for their encore. They dedicated it to Sonny Knight, a close friend to the band, and played a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me” to honor him.

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Plain and simple Nooky Jones is a must-see live. Their presence, their style, and their charisma burst through at their live shows and the kind of chemistry seen between these bandmates is the kind of thing that is only seen among a group of people that genuinely get along and love what they do. It shows in their sound as well. There wasn’t a single flaw in the sound produced. The tone was balanced perfectly between bass, drums, vocals, horns, and keys. Every detail could be heard from full basslines and tasteful rim shots to Cameron’s tone perfect falsetto. As a group they had the capability to fill the room with even the softest melodies, then ramp it up to blow the roof off the place. Kinghorn took command of the stage and the crowd with his disarming charm. He was half singer and half conductor both for the band and the audience. He would cut his band for hits that crashed like a freight train with a firm downward stroke of the fist and a flourish of the suit coat while engaging the crowd in call and response. His presence was so smooth it was irresistible to engage back, and that goes for the whole group as well.

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Andre Cymone surprises the audience and takes the stage.

Collectively, Nooky Jones is a musical force to be recognized. They are bringing tasteful neo-soul and phenomenal performances to the local scene and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.


Written by Marty Stock
Photos by Sylvia Jennings