St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Vocalist Paul Janeway of St. Paul & The Broken Bones may look like he could be somebody’s accountant but, when he opens his mouth to sing, that first impression disintegrates immediately.

He gyrates. He sweats. He gesticulates. He wails from the gut like an old soul. With his six-piece band including a fat horn section, St. Paul & The Broken Bones is more than just this year’s Alabama Shakes, to which the band is often compared.

It’s a fair comparison, but not entirely accurate, High Road Touring’s Brian Jonas, the band’s agent, told Pollstar. In addition to hailing from the same state – the band’s roots are in Birmingham, Ala. – they also have producer Ben Tanner in common. 

The band caught the ear of Thirty Tigers manager Traci Thomas who signed on early in 2013. Soon after, St. Paul & The Broken Bones packed up a van and drove to Austin from Birmingham without an official South By Southwest showcase, but determined to play for somebody, anybody.

Photo: John Davisson

“Frank [Riley] and I went to the same SXSW showcase not knowing the other was going to be there,” Jonas said. “We saw them at some random rooftop bar with no PA system, and Paul literally got on his knees and was singing in the middle of the crowd. I had never seen anything like it. I looked over at Frank, and his mouth was on the floor. That was it.

“When we first started, we agreed that we’d let the videos that are out there speak for themselves. There really wasn’t much of a pitch other than, ‘Watch this video and I dare to tell me that you don’t want this guy to be in your room.’”

The band recorded its debut LP, Half The City, in Muscle Shoals, Ala., for a new label co-founded by Tanner and John Paul White, formerly half of The Civil Wars. A month after its release, the band returned to SXSW – officially, this time. The buzz was unmistakable.

“It doesn’t matter what your musical tastes are, when you hear this band play and Paul sing, there has to be an immediate reaction. Some people are like ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that sound to come out of that guy.’”

Photo: Mark Zaleski/AP Photo

St. Paul & The Broken Bones has a fall headlining tour confirmed from Texas to the Pacific Northwest, playing 700- to 1,500-capacity rooms; a European tour in March, and from April into summer “things are starting to go full steam in the festival world right now.”