TEXT & PHOTOS BY TODD GUNSHER
St. Paul and the Broken Bones brought the sound of Alabama soul to Raleigh on Saturday, June 6th, playing the Lincoln Theatre’s outdoor street stage. Led by powerhouse vocalist Paul Janeway, they deliver a sound that is both fresh and familiar, harkening back to ‘60s soul with a helping of Southern gospel thrown in for good measure. The band draws on the classic sounds of chunky guitar riffs, Hammond B3 organ, and a three piece horn section, and while each instrumentalist had a chance at the spotlight, the focus is always on tight ensemble playing and Janeway’s vocals.
At the start of the set the band riffed for a couple minutes before Janeway took the stage resplendent in silver shoes, cocktail in hand. After giving Raleigh a greeting, the Broken Bones hit us hard with Don’t Mean A Thing. In addition to performing almost all of the songs off their solid debut, Half The City, the band gave a nod to their roots covering Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett.
Midway through the set, Janeway, who spoke of growing up singing in the church, brought a little Sunday morning to Saturday night by calling on the crowd to yell out “Amen!” It took three tries before he was satisfied with the response, which took us into the gospel sounds of It’s Midnight. The main set ended with a greasy rendition of Tom Wait’s Make It Rain, Janeway leaving the stage in classic style, as the Broken Bones finished the song.
The fifteen song set clearly wasn’t enough for Raleigh, so St. Paul and the band returned for a three song encore consisting of Otis Redding’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream, closing with their own Call Me. Upcoming dates for the band include a slew of European festivals and a couple dates opening for The Rolling Stones, so it was a treat for us to get to enjoy a full headlining set because anything less just wouldn’t be enough.
Opening the show was Oklahoma singer/songwriter Parker Millsap. Taking the stage with an acoustic guitar and harmonica, Millsap could easily be mistaken for a simple folk singer, but opening with Mississippi Fred McDowell’s You Got To Move showed that he’s absorbed a lot of southern blues. Throughout the set, Millsap displayed his skills on slide and fingerpicked guitar, along with strong vocals and solid songwriting. Supported by stand up bassist and fiddle player, his original songs such as Truck Stop Gospel and Old Time Religion are the sound of a young man with an old soul. The only negative was that the show being on a street stage, caused the quieter songs got lost amid the din of the crowd. I hope to see him again soon in a more suitable venue, as this is a singer to keep an eye out for.