Dedicated Men of Zion – the sacred soul quartet from eastern North Carolina who are all related to one another by blood or marriage – has come a long way since the release of 2020’s Can’t Turn Me Around on producer Bruce Watson’s Bible & Tire Recording Co. label. They have performed at the globalFEST, Telluride Blues & Brews, and Fresh Grass festivals. They have earned the acclaim of Brooklyn Vegan, NPR Music, and The New York Times. They scored placements on best of 2020 lists by NPR Music and the Philadelphia Inquirer. They’ve made a fan of Taj Mahal, signed to Concerted Efforts for booking, and taped an NPR Tiny Desk Concert.
With Bruce Watson of Fat Possum at the helm, they have surpassed their debut with The Devil Don’t Like It, released last week on Bible & Tire Recording Co. Throughout, the band’s jubilant harmonies shine, from the affecting minor-key testifying of “Rock My Soul” (a song that Elvis Presley and Louis Armstrong have sung but never with this much power) to the late-period STAX-inspired groove of “A Change Is Gonna Come.” DMZ reinterprets “Up Above My Head,” made famous by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the indelible “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” the latter from the Staples Singers songbook.
The Memphis-based Sacred Soul Sound Section provided the supple but sinewy grooves, featuring GRAMMY winner Matt Ross-Spang on guitar (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine), drummer George Sluppick (Rufus Thomas, Albert King, J.J. Grey & Mofro, Chris Robinson Brotherhood), guitarist Will Sexton (Alejandro Escovedo, Roky Erickson, his brother Charlie Sexton), bassist Mark Edgar Stuart (Elizabeth King, Alvin Youngblood Hart), and organist Al Gamble (St. Paul & The Broken Bones).
Anthony “Amp” Daniels had a career in secular music backing the likes of Elton John, Bebe Winans, Toni Braxton, before re-embracing his sacred soul roots in forming DMZ. His group soon caught the ear of Music Maker’s Tim Duffy, who put the group on our artist roster. Original group member Trevoris Newton passed away but DMZ persisted.
Anthony and Antwan Daniels’ father, Johnny Ray Daniels, another Music Maker partner artist, has recorded an album, Whatever You Need, also produced by Watson, that will be released May 6 on Bible & Tire Recording Co.