As a boy, Paul Janeway, a native of the small town of Chelsea, Alabama, was immersed in his local church. He played guitar and sang background vocals in the church while planning on becoming a preacher. His vision changed in his early 20s when he began attending open mic nights in music clubs in Birmingham, Alabama. He briefly joined a band that played Led Zeppelin covers, and in the mid-2000s sang in the alternative soul outfit The Secret Dangers. In 2012, Janeway and bassist Jesse Phillips attempted one last project before quitting music and focusing on other careers. As the two began working around Janeway's voice, they realized they were forming a soul outfit and assembled local musicians to support that. After two EPs, St. Paul & the Broken Bones' debut album, Half the City, was released in 2014. The band is comprised of Janeway, Phillips, guitarist Browan Lollar, drummer Andrew Lee, keyboardist Al Gamble, trumpeter Allen Branstetter and trombonist Ben Griner.
Headlining at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, St. Paul & the Broken Bones opened with an instrumental jam that showcased the rhythm and blues direction that the concert would take. Janeway then appeared from the wings, looking unlike a rock star in black-framed glasses, business suit, open-collared shirt -- and stacked-heel multi-color shoes! Upon reaching for the microphone, however, the showman was revealed and he immediately dominated the stage. Janeway approached his vocals with the passionate fire of a dynamic gospel singer. Reviving the 1960s soul sounds of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, Janeway and the musicians sparkled with electrifying power. The set consisted of 11 original songs and four covers: Van Morrison's "I've Been Working," David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream," Tom Waits' "Make It Rain" and the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." Some of the songs rocked hard, but Janeway's vocals remained faithful to his heartfelt, soul-filled delivery. This kind of performance has a broad potential appeal; given the platform, St. Paul & the Broken Bones' performance could never go unnoticed.
Visit St. Paul & the Broken Bones at www.stpaulandthebrokenbones.com.