- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sonny Knight is hoping to take the name “Lakers” back from the eponymous basketball team, who moved from his city of Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960. It’s a tall order, and he knows it.

“Since we can’t take back our team, we’re taking our name back,” Mr. Knight told The Washington Times with a rather hefty laugh.

Indeed, the Land of 10,000 Lakes lent its name to the NBA team and to Mr. Knight’s band. He has fashioned a lengthy career for himself in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, an area also home to native son Prince. (Bob Dylan is also from Hibbing, in the north part of the state.)

“There’s just something special and unique about [the Twin Cities] that brings everybody together,” Mr. Knight said. “And there’s a good community of musicians and people that work together. And that’s kind of how I got kind of caught up in it.”

Sonny Knight & the Lakers will perform this weekend at the Rosslyn Jazz Fest Saturday at 2:20 p.m. Mr. Knight, who was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, while in the Army, has not been back to the District since 1966.

Mr. Knight’s influences include gospel and R&B, the latter of which was especially prominent in the Minneapolis area.

“I started singing with different bands around the Twin Cities up here,” Mr. Knight recalled.

With the music biz upside down, Mr. Knight — and his fellow artists — must constantly perform to make ends meet.

“I was pretty much not doing anything, playing with groups here and there, but not what I’m doing now with the Lakers,” Mr. Knight explained of the times before the music industry inverted. “I’m doing my best to sing, and I love making an audience happy — getting them involved into what we’re doing.”

Minneapolis was the site of recent Black Lives Matter protests. Mr. Knight, who is black, said he tries to avoid politics as much as possible and just focus on the music.

“What I thrive on is that people are having fun,” he said. “God gave me the talent to get up in front of them and sing and not make a fool of myself there.

“Instead of just sitting there watching, you get an actual chance to be a part of the show,” he said of his interaction with fans. “Basically they can expect to have a really good time.”

While music will always be in his blood, in another life, Mr. Knight said he might have been a truck driver, utilizing the precious alone time to gather his thoughts together, as he did in his younger days.

“Sounds kind of unusual [from someone who is] in front of an audience jumping up and down and dancing, but you know, every now and then, it’s just that golden moment of time you get to be by yourself,” he said, “think about things and realize what you have in this world.

“If I wasn’t singing, I was driving a truck. If I wasn’t driving a truck, I was back into the music,” he said. “That’s the only thing I’ve done all my life.”


WHAT: Sonny Knight and the Lakers perform at Rosslyn Jazz Fest

WHEN: Saturday, 2:20 p.m.

WHERE: Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Hwy, Arlington, Virginia, 22201

INFO: Free to the public, for full artist lineup, go to RosslynJazz.com

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