There will be no sleep for the soulful at Forecastle. When multistage activities along Waterfront Park simmer down each evening, the festival will draw the night owls indoors for several programs.
Paul Janeway, the singer who fronts the soul revivalist indie sensation St. Paul and the Broken Bones, is pleased to be part of one such after-hours show, even though he seemed playfully aghast at the starting time Friday night — more precisely, Saturday morning — for his band's performance at Headliner's Music Hall.
"Man, we're playing a damn midnight show," he said, breaking into laughter. "That's crazy."
You want crazy? Then get a load of the fact that the show also will have an opening act, Atlanta soul singer Curtis Harding, push St. Paul and the Broken Bones even further into the wee hours.
"I think we're actually playing around 1:30 — as in a.m. Man, that's past my bedtime," said Janeway. "Rock 'n' roll bands go out there and party. Soul bands go to bed at midnight. Or at least I do. It will be fun, though. We're pretty excited."
The tone Janeway strikes in conversation differs markedly from the demeanor of his onstage alter ego, St. Paul. Janeway is easygoing and animated, beginning almost every point of discussion with, "Now, this is what's so funny ..." and "What's really hysterical about that is ..." Onstage, St. Paul is an intense, gospel-schooled disciple of vintage soul. Shut your eyes, soak in the sweaty desperation of his singing and the Memphis Horns-style accompaniment, and you would swear you were listening to the offspring of Otis Redding.
Ask him about influences, though, and his answer will surprise you. Raised in the church with the prospect of becoming a preacher, he cites not a classic nugget of R&B as the pivotal song that changed his career but the 19th-century hymn It Is Well With My Soul.
"I think that song is what made me fall in love with music," he said. "At the time, it was also kind of a spiritual thing. But that's what I wanted. That's what you desire as a performer — music that moves people to different levels than just, 'Oh that's nice.' I think anyone who loves music experiences those moments. On a musical level, I was thinking, 'Wow. I would really like to do this for the rest of my life."
While the 2014 debut album, Half the City, has won the band, based in Birmingham, Ala., considerable praise and a fan base that will take Janeway and company to Canada and Europe after Forecastle, some of the initial buzz was created in Lexington.
In December 2012, roughly two months after its formation, the band played at Willie's Locally Known. While in town, the band members — Janeway, bassist Jesse Phillips, guitarist Browan Lollar, trumpeter Allen Branstetter, trombonist Ben Griner and drummer Andrew Lee (keyboardist Al Gamble was added to the lineup this year) — were chronicled in a video by Shaker Steps. The band performed Broken Bones and Pocket Change in a Lexington Center conference room overlooking the skating rink and Christmas tree in Triangle Park.
"That's how we got our manager," Janeway said. "She saw that video online. That's really how a lot of this began for us. So I love Lexington. Well, I'm also a big UK fan, so Lexington has a special place with me for that, too. But that video was a big part of why we now have a booking agent and why we now have a manager. That's part of how all this got cranked up."
More stories on the Forecastle Festival
Read Walter Tunis' blog, The Musical Box, at LexGo.com.