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Soul and guitar is in the Ear Bliss spotlight this week. St. Paul & The Broken Bones is a new band that is just beginning to make a big splash. The bandâs debut called Half the City is a hair-raiser.
âDex Romweber was and is a huge influence on my music. I owned all of his records as a teenager, and was thrilled at the fact that we were able to play together recently on tour. [He] is one of the best kept secrets of the rock n roll underground.â So says Jack White of The White Stripes fame. Romweberâs new album is a killer and we give it the Ear Bliss look-see. Letâs get down to business.
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
âHalf the Cityâ
Single Lock Records
Go back a couple of years and a soul-shaking band called Alabama Shakes from where else, but Alabama, was turning the indie rock world on its side with an incredible passionate and soulful singer in Brittany Howard and its music which straddled garage, soul and rock ânâ roll. Whereas the Shakes are likely prepping for a follow-up to that stellar debut, along comes another âbama entity in St. Paul & The Broken Bones that is beginning to create a similar stir. Like the Alabama Shakes, the calling card for St. Paul & the Broken Bones is its lead singer. Paul Janeway is the slightly rotund and bespectacled chapâs name and his church-like range and the Southern preacher-like gospel soul fire in his voice is something to behold. Unlike the four-piece Shakes, St. Paul & The Broken Bones at seven strong including a horn section is an army. As the dozen tracks comprising âHalf the Cityâ attest in stellar fashion, the bandâs Southern soul-powered assault, with Janeway at the helm, lands somewhere in the Al (Green), Otis (Redding) and Wilson (Pickett) zone. Itâs a good zone to be in and an album thatâll get you both sweaty and feeling so very soulful. Buy it and play it loud, loud, loud!
Dex Romweber Duo
Artists from The White Stripes to Neko Case to Cat Power cite guitarist Dexter Romweberâs days as one half of the two-headed pyschobilly racket squad Flat Duo Jets as a significant influence in their own musical careers. After the breakup of the FDJs in the late 1990s, Romweber retreated to a solo career first forming a duo with the drummer Crash LaResh and releasing two albums under his own name for Bloodshot Records. After LaReshâs departure in 2007, Romweberâs drum-playing older sister Sara (of Letâs Active fame) stepped in and the Dex Romweber Duo was born. âImages 13â is Romweberâs third for Bloodshot Records and he keeps to form over the albumâs dozen tracks which mix high-powered instrumentals and vocal numbers. Thereâs a dark, noir feel to âImages 13.â The album begins with the smash of cymbals and Dexâs cool guitar strokes all over leadoff track âRoll Onâ before the treacherous rockabilly sounds of âLong Battle Comingâ and the loungy undertones of âBaby I Know What Itâs Like to Be Alone.â Merseybeat jangle is all over the duoâs cover of The Whoâs 1966 song âSo Sad About Usâ whereas the equally catchy âBeyond the Moonlightâ is a pure slice of hillbilly hoedown. Romweberâs voice is full of bravado on cuts like âI Donât Want to Listenâ and a cover of the Jackie DeShannon number âWeâll Be Together Again,â whereas his guitar work is untouchable on instrumental numbers like âPrelude in G Minor,â âBlack Outâ which takes a page out of Henry Manciniâs Peter GunnÂ theme, the Pipeline-styled âBlue Surf,â and closing track âWeird (Aurora Borealis)â featuring Melissa Swingle on the ghostly sounding saw. There is much to savor on the many-flavored âImages 13.â Visit www.bloodshotrecords.com.
The big event is on Saturday night as folk legend Tom Rush returns to Rhode Island to perform as part of the Common Fence Point music series for a special show on the Salve Regina campus. The concert happens at 8 p.m. at the Bazarsky Lecture Hall located in the OâHare Academic Center at 100 Ochre Point Ave., Newport.
A pretty darn good and free twin bill happening at Nik-a-Neeâs in Providence (South Street) on Saturday night courtesy of local heroes The âMericans along with the big power pop guitar sounds of The Figgs. Things get going at 9 p.m. That same evening over in Warren, songstress and guitarist Allysen Callery headlines at the Church Street Coffeehouse. Ryan Lynn Crosby is in the opening slot.
Moving to Sunday afternoon, Detroit Breakdown Blues holds fort at the Narragansett CafĂ© in Jamestown from 1 p.m. to 4 pm. Later that evening, Lizzie James and the Greystone Rail brings their bluegrass sounds to the Wood River Inn in downtown Wyoming, R.I. (Main Street). Music begins at 6 p.m.
Dan Ferguson is a freelance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.