Sonny was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1948, moved to St. Paul as a youngster, and took to music. Little Sonny Knight & The Cymbols recorded their debut 45 for New Teenage Records in 1965, when he was 17. Then music took a backseat to a three year call of duty in the army. A few more years in the Bay Area followed before Sonny returned to Minnesota in the mid-1970s and joined the band Haze. Like many other groups, opportunities dried up in the 1980s and Sonny found a full time job as a truck driver. Musical work came again in the 1990s when former Valdons vocalists Monroe Wright and Maurice Young extended an invitation to join their new group, The Bachelors. In 2012, The Valdons were featured in Secret Stash Records’ compilation Twin Cities Funk & Soul. The record spawned multiple concerts which reunited musicians and singers from the era to perform for new generations; it also revived The Valdons, for which Wright and Young tapped Knight as a new member. After six months of working together in soul revue shows, Sonny and Secret Stash’s Eric Foss formed the group Sonny Knight & The Lakers.
In the spring of 2013, Sonny and the Lakers hit the ground running – playing gigs a few short weeks after their first rehearsal. Within months they had grown into their own as a band. In the fall, they spent a long weekend at a cabin in Northern Minnesota and it became a defining moment. Staying up late, listening to old 45s, learning gospel songs, and wood shedding tunes was a way for the band to develop a similar vocabulary and refine their direction. It transformed them from a group of good players into a band. When they returned home, they set up a string of performances and residencies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. As they honed the craft of putting on a great live show, they built a following of fans. By the end of their residency at the Eagles club in South Minneapolis, virtually no breaks interrupted or slowed down their live sets. Non-stop rehearsals and live performances helped The Lakers tighten up their sound. That, coupled with the inspiration found during the cabin trip, laid the ground work for recording an album.
On April 29, 2014, the debut album from Sonny Knight & The Lakers, I’m Still Here, was released by Secret Stash Records on LP, CD, and digitally. In person, Sonny Knight defies his 65 years of age. When he talks, his low gravelly voice betrays the roundness of his singing. The many hours spent listening to forgotten sixties and early seventies soul and funk records now oozes into Sonny’s memorable performances.
Mainstage Lounge Host: Harmony Ridge Gallery – Concert ticket holders may enjoy food and beverage before the show and at Intermission for only $5. Purchase tickets in advance or at the door. Entry limited to 100 people.