St. Paul and The Broken Bones may have shared the stage with Elton John and opened for the Rolling Stones, but certain Charlotteans will remember the eight-piece soul outfit for some of its early show-stealing local performances at the now-demolished Chop Shop.
Its first show there was September 2013, and it went over so well the band was back headlining Halloween at the club a month later.
“That was one of the first shows that we did and had a great response,” says frontman Paul Janeway from his home in Birmingham, Ala. “It was an odd venue for us. It had this metal, biker vibe, but they were so nice. The staff said, ‘We’re not usually into what you all do, but that was a great show.’ ”
St. Paul and The Broken Bones returns to town to play The Fillmore Charlotte on Tuesday night.
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The group’s star quickly rose after those early shows in Charlotte, and since then Janeway says he’s had some amazing opportunities and experiences.
“I’ve done a few things that have been the biggest honor. We played an Otis Redding tribute in Macon, Georgia, and got to perform one of my favorite songs — ‘I Forgot to Be Your Love’ — with (its originator) William Bell,” he says of the 79-year-old veteran soul singer and hit songwriter.
“Me and (81-year-old soul veteran) Eddie Floyd, who is from Alabama, were doing ‘Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.’ We’d just met, and he’s in the middle of singing and shouts ‘Alabama!’ ” Janeway says. “Most of the people I admire are dead, so to get to do that kind of stuff — I don’t know how that ever happened. My biggest fear is losing my memories. I don’t ever want to forget that. It’s pretty amazing.”
For his band’s third album, 2018’s “Young Sick Camellia,” Janeway looked inward for inspiration, drawing on the relationships and differences he had with his father and grandfather.
“The last record was like a commentary on society,” he says. “This was definitely more personal — me trying to figure me out.”
Recorded in L.A. with hip-hop producer Jack Splash, “Young Sick Camellia” showcases a band maturing and experimenting, breaking out of its retro soul label without abandoning it entirely.
“Any time you do any kind of self-exploration, you find a few cracks,” Janeway says of what he learned about himself. “I always assumed I was a really social person, and I found that I’m not. My wife is an introvert and I thought I was a social butterfly, but I don’t have a lot of friends. Not because I can’t. I just don’t. Aside from the people on the bus.”
The album was born out of the idea for a series of EPs Janeway planned to use to explore the relationships between himself, his dad and grandfather (who has since passed away), and the generational differences that define men in the South. The first EP blossomed into a full album, which is written from his own viewpoint.
“Maybe I disagree with how my dad or grandfather believe or feel, but is there some common ground? Is it something we’re seeking?” he says of the current political climate that finds families at odds over their beliefs.
“We’ve facilitated these groups of people where we’re just talking amongst likeminded people,” says Janeway, whose band limited its political involvement to playing a rally for then-Alabama senatorial candidate Doug Jones, who won the seat by beating Roy Moore amid sexual misconduct allegations involving Moore.
“I like to stay in areas of gray. There are certain subjects I know to avoid with family and you do your best, but sometimes...” he says with a laugh, remembering past holiday dinners.
“My wife’s family is very subdued — I would say classier. And it’s horrifying for her. My family is very vocal. Very loud. Somebody will say something and she’s like ‘Oh, no.’ (Then I’ll say) ‘Nope, I’m not letting it go.’ ”