St. Paul and the Broken Bones: With a little bit of soul
When Jesse Phillips first met Paul Janeway, it was in the most roundabout of ways.
“He was in an early version of [The Secret Dangers] and I was asked to come in as a substitute player, as someone else couldn’t make it to a performance,” Phillips explains.
“It wasn’t anything initially. He was a nice guy, had a great voice, etcetera. And then we sort of discovered that we had a similar taste in music and became best friends based around that.”
Now, Phillips and Janeway are leading members of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a soul band performing at 8 p.m. Sept. 15, Baker Hall, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University, Bethlehem.
This, in many ways, was a tonal shift for the pair regarding the genre of music they had worked with.
“After The Secret Dangers, [Janeway and I] would get together for fun to play at a show that our friends needed an opener for. It was informal, but a lot of fun. And it was around this time that we played a lot of soul stuff, and we realized how the genre was a natural fit to us.”
Beyond that gut feeling, Phillips describes how he felt that soul music, as a genre, resonated with him from a universal perspective.
“For me, it’s the rhythm of it, a gritty elemental, earthy rhythm that people universally respond to,” Phillips says in a phone interview.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find someone opposed to it. It emphasizes realness and rawness over refinement. You always have to put everything into it. There’s no coasting. Every time you play a show, you go for it.”
This, combined with the flexibility of the sound, made soul the clear direction for Phillips when creating St. Paul and the Broken Bones.
“You can play any kind of song as a soul song if you give a rock ‘n’ blues bend to it. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s when you listen to some of the songs of the time, it’s just a Beatles song that they’re covering.”
Initially, the band was planned to only feature the two artists before the pair decided to bring on a variety of performers.
“As the band came together around the later stages of recording, we were really inviting people to play on the EP, and we found chemistry with some of them.
“So when we started getting gig offers, we asked them to join us. A couple of years later, and the band has really gelled as a musical group, full of talent and people from a ton of places.”
St. Paul and the Broken Bones is composed of Paul Janeway, lead vocals; Brown Lollar, guitar and vocals; Andrew Lee, drums and percussion; Jesse Phillips, bass; Allen Branstetter, trumpet; Al Gamble, organ and piano; Jason Mingledorff, saxophone and flute, and Chad Fisher, trombone.
Paste magazine proclaimed that St. Paul and the Broken Bones is the second best band to see perform live, a claim supported by their performances on shows like “Conan.”
“We know we have a really positive show experience wherever we go. I’m totally invested in this, so I can’t objectively judge that sort of thing, but I just love what we do.”
Tickets: zoellnerartscenter.org; Zoellner Arts Center Box Office, 420 E. Packer Avenue, Bethlehem; 610-758- 2787, ext. 0