Last night First Avenue filled with a diverse crowd that was ready to dance and celebrate the release of Sonny Knight's new album – "I'm Still Here. I've been to a lot of CD release shows, but last night's was special for me as it was a celebration of Sonny's new full-length album, almost 50 years after recording his first 45, but it was also the official release of my first album cover. Sonny played in the Twin Cities funk group Haze in the 1970s. When that band broke up, he quit the music business and became a truck driver. In 2012 the founder of Minneapolis-based Secret Stash Records, Eric Foss, convinced Sonny to dive back into the music scene, a part of the TC Funk and Soul All-Stars, the live band assembled after Secret Stash released Twin Cities Funk & Soul - a compilation of funk and soul from the '60s and '70s. Eric Foss formed the Lakers band with a lot of younger players to back Sonny, and they started to play live shows, nailing down their party soul sound, before heading into the studio to track the album.
I met Sonny Knight and the Secret Stash Records guys last spring when filming a project for The Current. As Sonny and the band were starting to book more shows, they needed some promotional photos, so Eric invited me over to the studio the were practicing in, and recorded part of the album. Keeping things simple with a one light set-up, I had Sonny start singing into the big old RCA mic they used for recording. I wanted to capture the raw emotion he releases as he sings. It was just a quick portrait session, but I was really happy with some of the photos. Last fall as Secret Stash was getting ready to release the full-length album, Eric looked back at the promotional photos and approached me about using one of them as the album cover. I'm really happy with how the cover came out – super simple with just a tight photo of Sonny. All of the text for the album cover was relegated to a bright blue sticker on the corner of the cover. One you open the record all that is left is the image of Sonny totally lost a song.
I made sure to get to First Avenue early to congratulate Sonny and the band, but I also wanted to capture a few photos before the band took the stage. The Lakers have tons of fun on stage, and while there was a ton of fun back stage, they also take things seriously to make sure they put on a great show for the crowd. I don't think there was even a second of downtime for the first 45 minutes of their set. I'm sure it was a memorable night of music for everyone who made it to the show.