St. Paul and the Broken Bones - A Strong Opener for Ottawa Jazzfest

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Photo: Mike Bouchard

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Setting up soul power band St. Paul and the Broken Bones for opening night of the Ottawa Jazz Festival was a wise choice and those that attended made the correct decision.  

The 6-piece Alabama soul band has been playing the festival circuit for years.  They appeared at the CityFolk festival in Ottawa a couple of years ago to a packed audience inside one of the buildings.  It was hot and sweaty that night.  This night, was probably perfect weather for an outdoor live music performance.  Warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt, yet cool enough for lead man Paul Jayneway to wear a thrift store, crooner style red tuxedo.

On a land filled with lawnchairs, it must be difficult to encourage people to get up and dance, but it seems that Paul Jayneway knows how to coax a crowd out of the chairs and onto their feet. For much of the first third of the hour-and-a-half set, Jayneway performed as though he had a fully immersed audience.  He only needed to perform some stage antics, like hijacking one of the stage props, a huge pole covered in stretchy fabric, pulling that fabric over his head while he continued to sing while sprawled out on the floor of the stage. It was almost like slapstick humour, yet that was the final straw which pull people out of their chill zone into dance zone.

Jayneway's vocal range, backed by a super tight band that includes a horn section offered the ability to build the audience into an interactive frenzy.  When he had everyone hooked, he kept them there and pushed the energy higher with seemless falsetto transitions that were jaw-dropping.  He introduced the band and allowed them to play a little instrumental to show off their skills.  They tapped into Radiohead's 'National Anthem' as an unexpected seque.

While attendance was mediocre (like way less than expected for Kenny Rogers), those that attended were sure to be talking about opening night with St. Paul and the Broken Bones.  It's likely that a large percentage had never seen them until this night, aside from some who may have caught them at CityFolk festival a couple of years ago, upon which Jayneway reminisced on stage.  Hopefully, they will be back, and with even more people jumping on-board.