Photo by Dave McClister
Growing up in tiny Chelsea, Alabama, Paul Janeway was groomed to be a preacher from an early age. He grew up surrounded by church music, often testifying through song in Pentecostal-style services. Secular music was forbidden in his house, but his preacher training taught him one thing: “I know how to read a crowd,” he says.
That’s not just idle boasting. As the frontman for St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Janeway has garnered rave reviews all across the country for his dynamic performances. The group is a soul band of the highest order, providing a fiery background for Janeway while following his every move. Often bands like these can sound limp on record, but on their new album Half Way City, they manage to bring intensity into the recording studio. Produced by the Alabama Shakes’ keyboardist Ben Tanner, the record captures the Broken Bones in full analog, and most of the songs were finished on the first or second take. The unpredictability of the live setting is what makes songs like “Call Me” so great. Somehow, Janeway and the band “read the crowd”–the listener in this case–pulling back and barreling forward at just the right moments.
Catch St. Paul & The Broken Bones at SXSW 2014:
Tuesday, Mar 11: 7th and Trinity, 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Mar 11: Stubb’s, 6:45-7:20 p.m.
Wednesday, Mar 12: Tap Room at The Market, 10:05-10:40 p.m. (official showcase)
Thursday, Mar 13: SXSan Jose at Hotel San Jose, 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, Mar 13: Weather Up, 6:25 p.m