* What: St. Paul and the Broken Bones
* When: 10 pm, Friday, Nov. 1
* Where: Rhythm and Brews, 221 Market St.
* Admission: $10
* Phone: 423-267-4644
* Website: www.rhythm-brews.com
A little over a year and a half ago, Paul Janeway was working part-time as a bank teller and finishing up his accounting degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Today, he is touring the country with his band, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, blowing audiences away with his soulful voice that draws comparisons to Otis Redding, Al Green and Wilson Pickett.
A huge fan of all three, along with Tom Waits, Janeway is nonetheless surprised that people even mention his name among those icons. He said he never imagined himself as a professional singer, much less in a band that has opened for John Mayer and Jason Isbell. He thought he'd be a preacher.
"The biggest surprise for me is people thinking that I'm a good singer," he said. "That has been kind of a shock."
The 18 months that St. Paul has been a band represents the total amount of time Janeway has been getting paid to sing. Janeway said the band knows exactly 38 minutes' worth of original material and can do another hour and 20 minutes of covers.
Their first CD, "Half the City," will be released on Feb. 18. It was produced by Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes and John Paul White of Civil Wars.
"We are the perfect opening act," he said with a laugh. "We do covers because sometimes we are asked to do an hour and half or two hours."
Because of his voice, which can also sound like Mick Hucknall of Simply Red or Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Janeway is often asked by fans to cover a certain favorite. He takes the requests as a compliment but does find the occasional appeal odd.
"It does happen. My favorite is Michael Buble."
Janeway, who looks far more like an accountant than a soul singer, said another fun part of the gig is watching the faces of club owners and skeptical fans when the band hits that first note.
"I don't know what people expect, but when I tell them we are a soul band, they are like, "Yeah, sure.'"
Janeway said he is really happy with the record, which was recorded live in the studio, though it was actually recorded a year ago.
"It's so funny, we've been playing them for a year now, so we do some things differently, but we will have to potentially tour on this thing at least a year. Maybe two."
Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress .com or 423-757-6354.