Pat Blythe: St. Paul & The Broken Bones AND The Julian Taylor Band AND The Toronto Urban Roots Festival!

little-red-headed-dancing-girl

I “discovered” these guys buried in one of the DBAWIS columns a few months ago. I have since hunted down as many videos as I can find to listen to them. Their performance on The Letterman show is still one of my favourites.

 

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Paul Janeway

Born August 11, 2011 and hailing from Birmingham Alabama, the initial six-piece soul group includes lead vocalist Paul Janeway, Jesse Phillips (bass), Browan Lollar (guitar), Andrew Lee (drums), Ben Griner (trombone & tuba) and Alan Branstetter (trumpet). Founded by Janeway and Phillips (both formerly of the alternative soul band The Secret Dangers) the two friends initially got together to begin a new project which Janeway says, “was going to be our last hurrah”, a last ditch effort to stick with music before focusing on other careers. Soon to graduate from bank teller to full-time accountant (and preparing for his wedding) Janeway says, “something just clicked and we walked out of there (Ol ‘Elegante Studios in Birmingham) with something.” That “something” was the beginnings of their first EP. The other members of the band began to join Janeway and Phillips as the project progressed and the sextet self-released their first EP, Greetings From St. Paul and The Broken Bones, as a fully formed group before ever playing before an audience. The EP introduced four originals, “Sugar Dyed Honey Pants”, “Broken Bones and Pocket Change”, “That Glow” and “Champagne Halloween”. Two of those songs would end up on their first full-length album. Potential managers and record labels sat up and took notice. By January 2013, the band were recording their first full length album, Half the City, bringing in the final member of the group, Al Gamble, to play keyboards and officially making “The Bones” a seven-piece ensemble. Produced by Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes, the album was released by Single Lock Records, a label also owned by Ben Tanner, Will Trapp and John Paul White.

Call Me – St. Paul and The Broken Bones (Letterman show)

In February 2013 Traci Thomas of Thirty Tigers signed on as the band’s manager and “The Bones” began weekend touring while the two horn players were still in college. Touring during the week was not an option until after Griner and Branstetter graduated. During the first week of the album’s release, Half The City reached #62 on the Billboard 200 while stories by NPR Morning Edition and a national television debut on CBS This Morning Saturday pushed the album to #56. In 2015 the band opened for the Rolling Stones in Atlanta Georgia and Buffalo, New York.

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St. Paul & The Broken Bones, South Stage Toronto Urban Roots Festival

The group also recorded the Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music in December of 2014. Close your eyes and listen, and you might imagine someone who looks a bit like Otis Redding. Open them, and you’re likely to see someone who looks more like your neighborhood bank teller.” Standing on producer *Bob Boilen‘s desk is Paul Janeway. “…take a look at this Tiny Desk Concert and you’ll see why St. Paul And The Broken Bones’ music is so winning. It’s got heart and soul and flair, with a well-worn sound buoyed by strong, fresh songwriting.”

Tiny Desk Concert (NPR Music) – Saint Paul and The Broken Bones

I have now had the very good fortune to see this band twice in back-to-back concerts. Presented by TURF (Toronto Urban Roots Festival) the first show was at Fort York, Garrison Common where they played the intimate South Stage. The second night they presented themselves at Lee’s Palace, both concerts up close and personal with their audience. Front man and lead singer Paul Janeway is a ball of fire. He propels himself from one side of the stage to the other as he shimmies and dances, sometimes almost tipping himself off the edge of the stage into the audience before pulling himself back. He doesn’t stop twisting, turning, jiving, moving….his feet…those shoes….you can barely follow him (or them….the feet I mean). … and he’s got this little dance that he does…. and he emotes, oh does he emote. His face contorts with each note he sings. His extroverted performance  almost hypnotizes his audience….every note deeply and emotionally affecting. Janeway states, “I’m going to be dancing, getting in the aisles, climbing on tables…that’s just the way we do it. It really takes me back to church. There’s not a lot of difference. When I get on stage, it’s, ‘All right, it’s time to pour it on.” ….and pour it on he does. “An impassioned soul singer with James Brown-like stage moves and command,” according to one description. To me, he’s a combination of James Brown and Little Richard with a dash of Otis Redding.

I Been Loving You – St. Paul and The Broken Bones (Otis Redding cover)

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Climbing over the tables and reaching out, Lee’s Palace 

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Balancing act, Lee’s Palace

According to Paul Lester of The Guardian, “for what it’s worth, they score highly on the authent-o-meter. Janeway was raised in a non-denominational, Pentecostal-leaning local church and he was groomed to be a preacher until he was 18 years old. In that one sentence you’ve almost got enough justification for the way he sings and for the music he writes for the band. The vocals and the playing, and the songs, on Half the City are so true to the original sound of soul that you will – ultimate test, this – check that these aren’t, in fact, covers of oldies. Either that or you will slump forward, head in hands, in despair at the complete and utter unquestioning prostration towards vintage R&B and conclude that Janeway has simply been loving it too long.”

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Janeway feeling the music at Lee’s Palace

At Lee’s Palace, “us photographers” are not limited to the “three songs, no flash” rule. I am literally kissing the front of the stage all night long (it’s level with my chin) and am in the excellent position of being able to shoot Janeway’s nose hairs if I so chose….and I ain’t budging. Lee’s Palace was packed and the audience was pumped.  The sweet, sweet sounds of the brass section wafted over eager ears, hips were swaying, feet were moving, hands were clapping and with Janeway’s constant cajoling, the audience was dancing and cheering. The church services he and his family attended included the boisterous “save-my-soul” type worship and it taught him how to read a crowd. Personally, I’m so accustomed to our Toronto spectators just standing and watching almost mute my flabber was gasted when I turned and looked around at a room full of people unabashedly enjoying themselves without a care and totally captivated by Janeway, enjoying the entire experience. From front to back, all I could see was a sea of glowing, laughing faces right up to the back wall of the building.

Janeway’s pipes, and now his shoes, are fast becoming the trademarks of St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Their following has grown rapidly to the point where, the next time you see them, it won’t be so up close and all of us media types will need three levels of clearance to get our “three songs, no flash” pics.

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A few of “The Bones” after their performance at Lee’s Palace

…and lastly…THE Janeway Shoes

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*(Bob Boilen was the host of Things Considered for 18 years before starting All Songs Considered in 2000 for NPR. He is also a writer and musician in his own right.)

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The Julian Taylor Band

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Julian Taylor

Walking through the crowds at TURF I turned around, and for the second time this year unexpectedly ran into Julian Taylor. It was a pleasure to see him and although I had missed his performance at Fort York (the weather that day did not make driving much fun) I was fortunate enough to watch his performance as the opening act for St. Paul and The Broken Bones at Lee’s Palace. It was well worth the wait.

The first time I heard Taylor and his band was at The Horseshoe Tavern on Valentine’s Day this year. The ‘Shoe was packed and I was quite happy to sit at the end of the bar nursing my G&T, listening from the comfort of my bar stool. This time I was front and centre, the best “seat” in the house. Taylor’s band is comprised of experienced and brilliant musicians including Jeremy Elliott (drums), Jarrod Ross (bass), David Engle and Derek Giberson (keys), Josh Piche (guitar), John Pagnotta and Norman Ryan (horns) and of course Julian Taylor (vocals and guitar). This band rocks! Their show at Lee’s was dynamite and I was finding it increasingly difficult to bust a move and take pictures at the same time. They just let’s it rip and all I wanted to do groove to the music. Taylor has a huge fan base and the packed room at Lee’s Palace was rocking the rafters right along with him. His voice is full of raw emotion, singing from deep within his soul, meaning every word, especially when he sings “Be Good To Your Woman”, a song , according to Taylor, “designed to spark the conversation about trying to stop the violence against women.”

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Julian Taylor Band at Lee’s Palace

Be Good To Your Woman – Julian Taylor Band

Taylor is a Torontonian.  Rock, soul and R&B are his genres. Taylor’s first band was Staggered Crossings, nicknamed StagX, formed in 1996 with three high school friends. They developed quite a following, becoming a fixture in the local Toronto club scene, and in 1999 signed a contract with Warner Music Canada. Their first full-length album was released in 2001 and three singles off the album did very well, receiving significant airplay. The band split up in 2007, amicably. Influenced by Motown, Blue Note and Stax among others, Taylor grew up in very musical family and was playing and singing in the church choir at the age of five. Fast forward 30 years later and Taylor has seven albums and 10 top-forty hits singles in his repertoire. Catch Taylor and his band wherever and whenever you can. He’ll have you shaking your booty in no time. Oh, and while writing his album Tech Noir, he used his three-year-old daughter as his “music barometer of taste”. If the song was good, she would break into spontaneous dance. Her reaction to something she doesn’t like….zip. Daughter Ella has excellent taste.

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The choral section….great harmonies

Zero to Eleven – Julian Taylor Band

Never Gonna Give You Up – Julian Taylor Band

TURF-logo2_350pxI would also like to take this opportunity to thank Darryl Weeks at StageFright Publicity for providing both my media and photo passes.  He responded to my request quickly and when I checked in, everything was ready. I was particularly amused that I had to wear a 19+ wristband, once again proving I am of legal drinking age (it’s been a couple of years). I loved the relaxed atmosphere, the care and thoughtfulness that went into the location of the stages and that the bands were spaced and scheduled as such that you didn’t have to miss anyone, and most of all, those sound technicians who worked miracles. ALL the bands sounded fantastic from wherever you were! …and kudos to all those volunteers who are much of the glue that keep festivals like these running smoothly. It’s in my calendar for next year.

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Three members of the very large and enthusiastic crowd at the South Stage performance for “The Bones”

(yes I promised I would use their pic….and I know they’ll be watching for this column. They loved the show. Three more followers for DBAWIS and three dedicated fans for “The Bones”.)

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Wilco – Main Stage East
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“The Pit” — Ready, set, shoot….

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Health food

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….and more health food

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CIVILIZED Seating (Eating, Drinking, and Smoking)

Cheers!

All photos by The Picture Taker.

Sources

Wikipedia, YouTube, CBC, Toronto Star, The Guardian, NPR Music, Garden & Gun, iTunes, Vegas Seven, St. Paul & The Broken Bones.com, David Letterman Show, my camera, Facebook

For more photos of the shows at TURF and Lee’s Palace, go to The Picture Taker on FB.

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-buttonIn “real” life Pat Blythe has spent the past 32 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry. After an extended absence Pat is now heading back to the GTA clubs, immersing herself in the local music scene, tasting what’s on offer, talking to people and writing once again — sharing her passions and her deep love of music. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husbandpblytheChristopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who shot much  of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, Plateau, Buzzsaw, Hellfield….) as well as national and international acts,  Currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, Pat is currently compiling a photographic history of the local GTA music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance!

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