It is a familiar story.
Southern soul band St. Paul and The Broken Bones had big plans for 2020. They’d recorded a new record, the band’s fourth, and were supposed to do a barnstorming tour that would have taken them all over the country and maybe across the sea.
“We were set up really well,” singer Paul Janeway explained, speaking over the phone from his home in Birmingham, Alabama. “But that all went to hell in a hand basket.”
COVID canceled the record for 2020 but didn’t quite cancel all performances.
The eight-piece band played a handful of socially distanced outdoor concerts before the holiday season COVID waves — even whether they should play those was debated in the group, but they played them.
“We played a show in 28-degree weather,” Janeway said. “That was the coldest show, I think, we ever played.”
Like many others artists, they also streamed concerts online. Audiences watched, but Janeway seemed dissatisfied with not being able to see who was watching.
It’s been a common complaint among performers. Streamed shows provide next-to-no feedback to the artists, but the singer said the band was excited to be coming to play “Mountain Stage” April 16.
“It’s our first show this year in front of any audience and our first time playing a show together in four months,” Janeway said.
They were also a little nervous.
At the time the singer called, the band hadn’t decided what they were going to do on stage, which songs they would play. The sticking point was that unreleased record.
“I think there will be new music out there before the end of the year,” he said, hopefully. “I don’t know if the full record will be out, though.”
Playing the new music on “Mountain Stage” could be risky, Janeway added.
“The problem is ‘Mountain Stage’ is broadcast. The first time you do a new song, there’s a record of it — not sure if you want that,” he said.
Janeway sighed and added, “We’ll see.”
While 2020 was a fearful and deadly year, he said there were small, bright spots. He and his wife had their first child together in September. Because the band wasn’t touring, Janeway spent more time with his family than he might have otherwise.
He and his wife hadn’t taken starting a family lightly.
“I do work a kind of unique job,” Janeway said. “We talked about it. Was having a child going to help our relationship? Was it going to hurt our relationship?”
Child or not, he’d still have to spend a lot of time away from home to make a living.
“I think we came out of it loving each other even more,” he said. “I love her as my wife and as the mother of my daughter. This just opened up a new chamber.”
Fatherhood, the singer said, has been everything everyone says it is — exhilarating, exhausting, amazing, agonizing.
“It’s life changing and it’s wonderful,” Janeway said.
Other than time with his family, the singer said he and the band went into the studio and tried to be productive.
When the band originally canceled their plans for the year, Janeway said he thought he’d have all sorts of time to catch up on his reading, but he didn’t get far.
Following the appearance on “Mountain Stage,” the rest of the year for St. Paul and The Broken Bones is under construction. The band has a few shows booked in the coming weeks, more would be added for over the summer, but the singer said they were really looking more toward the fall.
“We want to make sure everyone feels safe and then I think it’s on like Donkey Kong,” he said.