Sharon Jones may be the “overnight sensation” du jour, but Bettye LaVette has a 10-year head start on the queen of the Dap-Kings. The last time LaVette came through these parts, the 65-year old Michigan native was part of a package show with Maria Muldaur and “Long, Tall” Marcia Ball. While that evening was truly splendiferous, I really wanted to hear more of LaVette when it was all over, so having her return in a headliner role was a hot pre-Thanksgiving meal.
Backed up by a stripped-out, horn-free quartet, LaVette was offstage when she started singing a searing rendition of Lennon & McCartney’s “The Word.” But she strode out front in a hurry, dressed strictly for business – black heels, black pants, black sleeveless top and packing a grit-coated voice that makes Tina Turner sound like Buffy Sainte-Marie. AARP needs to video LaVette dancing onstage just to show seniors what is possible, because Miss Bettye was rocking right from the jump, and so were the 400-or-so people who came to drink in the energy.