From The Backstage, Tales From Bluesfest 2017: Paul Janeway

Posted by: on Apr 24, 2017 | No Comments








Paul Janeway sits in the artist green room at a small wooden table. Wearing a loose fitting shirt similar to that of a baseball journey and a neat little hat, it’s a big juxtaposition to seeing him on stage out the front of Alabama soul group St Paul and the Broken Bones. It’s the opening night of Bluesfest 2017 and a couple of hours before he hits the stage, he sits eating a chocolate gelato.

The band premiered at Bluesfest 2016 and by all reports from the media and fans alike, they were a festival favourite. Some artists spend the time before they play, getting anxious or stressed about how they will play, yet Janeway alludes a calm persona as we begin to chat about their second time at Bluesfest.


“That’s an honour to get that kind of feedback, I don’t know whether that’s true or not.” Janeway confesses about the hype surrounding their return performance in 2017. “Last year, was the first time ever being in Australia and so it was really magical, and we had an amazing show. It was something that I’ll never forget.”


At the 2017 festival, St Paul and the Broken Bones played a total of three times across different days, meaning that there was considerable time to check out the other artists on the bill. Mid way through chatting about who Janeway is excited to see, the interview is interjected by the legendary Mavis Staples, who has just come off stage from her high energy soul set.


“St Paul! Haha” Staples greets Janeway before embracing him in a hug. “I just got off stage and we just got done playing. I remember seeing you on television. Man! You jumped it had to be eight and a half feet, you didn’t stop. You just kept going.” Staples recalls from a previous American television performance of the Broken Bones.


“It took me a second, I was rolling on the ground and I couldn’t remember what was happening but I just kept singing the song.” To which Staples replies “When you jumped down, I jumped up!. St Paul please don’t hurt yourself.” It is before introducing Janeway to her manager before Staples realises that we are in the middle of an interview, yet this is an interaction between friends that I won’t forget anytime soon.

“That voice is something that I will never forget.” Staples compliments Janeway on his unique and unforgettable vocal styling. The interaction between the two continue as Staples remembers being told about Janeway by Susan Tedeschi from the Tedeschi Trucks band. “Susan said, watch him Mavis, that boy is dangerous and scandalous!” Another brief embrace with exchanging love for each other takes place before Staples and company move off to their dressing room and Janeway and I sit back at the table to discuss their 2016 release Sea Of Noise, the follow up to 2014’s Half The City. Greater complex arrangements to the tracks results in their greatest studio effort yet.

“I am really proud of this album and what is really fun is getting to play it here. When we played last time, we only had the first album out and it’s going to be a lot of fun to play the new album on stage. With Half The City we only had 3 or 4 days, where as with this time around we had a year and a half. It felt good. For us the idea was to expand the musical palate of what has come before.”

The philosophy of Janeway is to be inspired be anything and everything and inspiration from songwriting comes from varied sources including Prince, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. Sea Of Noise was such a triumph for this Alabama soul six piece, it’ll be interesting to see what they produce next.


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