Archived Story

Call me a fan

Published 6:38pm Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday morning, I woke up to St. Paul and the Broken Bones playing “Call Me.”
It wasn’t on the radio or an iPhone wake-up alarm, it was the musical tape loop that plays in my brain 24/7. A couple of days earlier, I woke up to St. Paul’s lead singer Paul Janeway belting out “Try a Little Tenderness,” on the same in-my-head sound track.
Nobody else in the room could hear it. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say a song has gotten into their head.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones seems to have taken up residence in my brain; I’m not sure what they pushed out, but I’m happy I found room for them up there, because St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ show last Saturday night was simply the best performance I’ve seen in 24 years at Alexander City’s Jazz Fest and one of the best I’ve seen anywhere.
Some could argue that we’ve had better musicians on the Alexander City stage – maybe they can run the scales on their instruments faster or something that matters on some level – but for the overall package of hand-clapping, foot-stomping authentic music, dynamic stage presence and an electric connection with the audience, St. Paul and the Bones wins hands down. And this all came from a Birmingham band formed less than two years ago.
I was there as a photographer and spent the entire concert in that little 3-foot-wide AMP alleyway between the edge of the stage and the barriers, so I was closer to the performance than almost anybody other than Clyde Gulledge, who was in the “pit” with me for the whole show.
It’s an understatement to say I was looking up to Paul Janeway, who sweated through his gray suit jacket and pants long before the last song. He was so close he actually sweated on me.
He stood over me and wailed into the microphone. He danced and slid across the stage so close I couldn’t fit him in a 24 mm lens.
When he splashed water on the stage to make his dance moves slide better – or just to cool those smokin’ white shoes – the first time he kicked I got water on my lens.
Proximity always has an amplifying effect on any show – hence the big bucks, front row seats – but there was a lot more going on that night than just being close.
In my humble, non-musician opinion, I think St. Paul and the Broken Bones is one of those rare acts that will see a meteoric rise to the top of the music world.
It wouldn’t surprise me if this band winds up in the long list of Alabama’s entertainment treasures like, well, Alabama, Hank Williams,  Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Jimmy Buffett, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Tammy Wynette or Nat King Cole.
Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but I saw greatness in St. Paul and the Broken Bones last Saturday.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. If you go to stpaulandthebrokenbones.com, you’ll see the latest news about the band.
Here’s a couple of recent posts: “Paste Magazine names St. Paul No. 1 artist to know at Bonnaroo,” “St Paul and the Broken Bones Nominated for Emerging Act of the Year for 2014 from the Americana Music Association’s Honors & Awards,”  “St. Paul and the Broken Bones on ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’.”
This is a band that’s going places.
Here it is, seven days later, and I’m still singing Broken Bones tunes and gushing their Jazz Fest performance.
Call me a fan!
Boone is publisher of The Outlook.