Have I mentioned that it’s been one of the longest weeks ever? I feel like I haven’t slowed down and stopped moving in days. Oh wait…
I haven’t cooked myself (or Wheat) a meal in a week. And that’s only if you count the savory baked egg muffins I made last Sunday morning. Not that I mind being busy – obviously, I bring these things on myself. But I’ve never looked forward more to a quiet night at home alone, cooking a meal from start to finish, having a glass of wine, and listening to the St. Paul and the Broken Bones Pandora station in the kitchen than I did yesterday afternoon. If you haven’t yet gotten hooked on St. Paul, let me introduce you. I first heard about the band (where else) on NPR. Instead of reinventing the wheel (I’m so tired, y’all), I’ll just let NPR tell you about them.
One of the hottest new bands out of Birmingham, Ala., doesn't sound new at all. On the new album, Half the City, St. Paul and The Broken Bones hits all the marks of a classic Southern soul band, complete with a fiery lead singer. Speaking with NPR's David Greene, bassist Jesse Phillips recalls the first time he experienced the voice of frontman Paul Janeway.
"I'd been warned of what comes out of Paul's mouth when he opens it," Phillips says, "basically because it's a big surprise for most people."
A surprise, he says, because the singer doesn't exactly look the part.
"Paul, according to all the reviews and stuff that are written of the band, he looks like your high school history teacher, or he looks like Drew Carey," Phillips explains. "Bottom line is that we're a bunch of kind of nerdy-looking white guys, and when this sort of earth-shaking soul roar comes out of his mouth for the first time, you can always hear the air being sucked out of the room."
Janeway wasn't raised to be a soul singer. He grew up in rural Alabama in a strict religious household.
"I could only listen to, like, gospel Christian music," Janeway says. "And a little dash of Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye."
And he got most of his musical chops from church. He even trained to be a preacher.
"I learned more from preaching than I did singing in church," Janeway explains, "because you learn a little bit more about how to interact with the crowd — feeling momentum, just feeling that intensity — and it's not a whole lot different than what we do now."
But eventually, Janeway would fall out of love with preaching and begin to look for another path.
"Dad works for a pavement and construction company," Janeway says. "He said, 'Well, boy, if you're not going to college, you're going to work.' He found me a job, basically, as a mechanic's assistant. I'd cut the grass, I would do all sorts of stuff — but when the economy crashed, I lost my job, and I was unemployed about a year and a half.
"And I met a lady," he adds, "and decided that I wanted to kind of figure out what I was going to do with my life. I went to community college, and after a little while I kind of started to be attracted to accounting. ... What's crazy is that I'm about two semesters away from getting my accounting degree, and then this music thing showed up and ruined my life."
Now, as the lead singer of a soul band, Janeway exhibits a deep passion in the music he performs on stage.
"It's really difficult for me not to sing every time like it's the last time I'm going to be on the planet," Janeway explains. "I don't care if we're playing to five people or 5,000, I have a mental thing in my brain that clicks that it's like I've got to give every possible fiber of my being into my voice right now when I'm singing."
The music has its roots in church, and religion is still part of Janeway's life — but the relationship remains complicated.
"Not agreeing with what is predominantly taught growing up the way I did, I had a lot of animosity toward the church," he says. "One time there was a woman with cancer, and they were telling her, 'All you need to do is say you're healed.' And she tried to so hard, and tried and tried and tried, but she eventually died of cancer, and she died thinking that she didn't have enough faith to be healed. And that really resonated with me. I still think about that to this day."
As for his parents, Janeway says that in retrospect he's glad they were so strict. He remembers a particularly formative moment when his mother found his copy of Nirvana's Nevermind.
"She found it and threw it away," he says. "I told her that story, and she goes, 'Listen, Paul, if you'd have listened to Nirvana, you wouldn't have been a soul singer.' So, I look at it now and go, 'Well, maybe it's turned out to be a really good thing.' "
This guy gives me chill bumps. Close your eyes and you’d never know this wasn’t a Motown record of yore. I grew up listening to Motown music on a Wurlitzer juke box (yes, really, we had one at home), so it’s only natural that I fell head over heels with St. Paul and the Broken Bones at first listen. And I love that he looks more like a book worm than Otis Redding.
So now that you’re listening to some sweet, sweet tunes, here are some other things I’m loving this week (now that it’s almostttttt over).
On Tuesday, I stopped by TCA Artist in Residence Julie Guyot‘s studio over at 209 Remington yet again. I plan to go back one more time before I share all the details with y’all, but just look at the vase she gave me! I watched as she formed these last time I was there, and this was the last one she had left. It made for an exciting anniversary afternoon! The decals on her ceramics are hand drawn, and Adult Education Director at Thomasville Center for the Arts, Ashley Ivey, turned her drawing into a printed flour sack towel, too. I struck it rich on Tuesday, and Ashley gave me one of those, too. Thank you Ashley and Julie, for making it a great day!
I die over the bees. As y’all can imagine.
Side note: Julie is busy as a bee listing some items on her Etsy shop Six Milch Cows right now, so get ’em while they’re hot!
Tuesday I worked late, and later that evening Wheat took me to Chophouse on the Bricks in Thomasville for our anniversary on Tuesday, and it was great. The food was amazing, but I cannot tell a lie – the service was a little weird. I should clarify: the drink service was slow, but the food service was too fast. I just don’t like to feel rushed through a meal, and I also don’t like to be without a glass of vino (y’all know me). I almost hate to even say that on here, since it was totally minor and didn’t make us enjoy our meal any less or anything, but I am nothing if not honest, so… laying it all out there. Anywho, the food was some of the best we’ve had in a long, long while. It’s an indulgence for your average Tuesday for sure (especially when you also order two appetizers), but it was a wonderful second anniversary dinner. Plus, the building is just gorgeous!
We had the tuna tartar with pickled slaw and an order of fried oysters over collard greens with a mignonette sauce… possibly the highlight of the meal. I cannot recommend either enough!
For my entree I ordered the Grassroots coffee rubbed filet mignon with a Cabernet goat cheese butter pat (divine) over haricots verts and Sweet Grass Dairy Lil’ Moo polenta. SO GOOD. Wheat got a cane syrup crusted NY Strip over a veggie hash that was delicious, too. Clearly we were all aboard the protein train. #surfnturf
Wheat gave me a present for our anniversary, too… a custom oyster knife from Heartwood Forge!!
Isn’t it gorgeous! Quite possibly the most thoughtful, planned-in-advance gift Wheat has ever gotten me! And super special, since Will is a friend. And he even put my initials on it!
It’s pretty baller, and I can’t wait to try it out on some oysters… I may have to start carrying it around in my purse next to my purse-Crystal and bust it out at restaurants. (Yes, I really do carry a small bottle of Crystal hot sauce at all times. You just never know.) By the way, the cutting board background is my Southern Restoration tobacco slat cutting board from Marc Ventry.
And what holiday is complete without a gift to yourself? My bracelet from Black Swamp Co. came in, and it is amazing, too!
This particular bracelet is made out of ~1000 year old sunken cypress from the swamp behind maker Katie’s house. It’s gorgeous! Look for more on Katie and Black Swamp Co. on the blog next week… ;)
And finally, I ended the week – because let’s be real, by the time you make it to Thursday night, the week may as well be over – with this precious:
Lenore is a solid, full-bodied Syrah that really hit the spot last night. And with that, I bid you good weekend. Cheers!