My mind was completely blown after experiencing a show at The Chop Shop in Charlotte recently that featured three bands that just a couple of weeks prior I had never even heard of. That’s part of the magic of music and going to live shows, if you take a chance and just pick a random show at a venue in your city, you may walk out with a whole new favorite band or genre of music. This show was headlined by St. Paul and the Broken Bones with two of Charlotte’s own groups, Pullman Strike and Sinners and Saints, as the opening acts. Word had obviously got around as to how good these bands are, as the venue was sold-out and jammed with fans from the front door all the way to the stage.
Sinners and Saints was first up for the night, and they started the party off right. This is a two piece folk band based out of Charlotte, NC that takes multitasking to a new level. Vocalist Perry Fowler handles acoustic guitar, harmonica, and the kick snare, while Mark Baran plays the stand up bass, bass drum, and does backing vocals. These guys have the ability to get any crowd tapping their feet with the catchy, upbeat southern style of folk and country they pump out. The melodies Fowler puts over the music with his vocals makes it easy for others to sing along to, and they had plenty of people in the packed house singing that night. If you are a fan of folk style music, and judging by the wave of this style that has hit us in the last few years I know there’s plenty of you, you do not want to miss out on one of this duos shows.
Next up was a band that has been described in so many different ways, it’s almost impossible categorize them as one genre, Pullman Strike. Drummer Daniel Beckham described them best by calling their music “good rock ‘n’ roll.” Pullman Strike is a five piece group from Charlotte, NC that can please music fans ranging from alt. country all the way to punk rock. The band is led by guitarists/lead vocalists in Evan Stepp and Neil Mauney. They are aided ably by Bassist/acoustic guitarist Dan Smith, drummer Daniel Beckham and (something I’ve never seen in any other band from Charlotte) pedal steel guitar played by Wes Hamilton.
You can tell that they are passionate about the music they play just by watching them on stage, their music comes from the heart and they have fun performing. Music has started to become more of a money hungry business and it’s bands like this that bring the love of the art back into it. It was impossible for me and the rest of the audience on this night not to get consumed by the music they brought to the stage. With each tune getting better as the set went on, I found myself thinking how I didn’t want it to end. The combination of the pounding rock style drums, the country vibe of the pedal steel, the attention grabbing guitar playing and pulsating bass lines easily made this band one of my new favorites. I was lucky enough to get the chance to talk to them about where the band came from, what they are all about, and what the future holds for them before the show, you can check the interview out here.
As if the overflowing and enthusiastic crowd at the Chop Shop hadn’t already been pleased enough, the next act turned the venue into a dance hall reminiscent of 1950’s and 60’s era concerts. St. Paul of St. Paul and the Broken Bones had every person in attendance hypnotized from his incredible voice and the amazing music he and his band produced. When you first hear this man sing, you will think you are listening to an old Marvin Gaye or James Brown record. His voice is seriously that good, and it fits like a glove with the combination of soul, blues and rock ‘n’ roll the band blast out. Paul moved around the stage with a level of excitement that made you think he was singing these songs in front of an audience for the first time; and made it look so easy to put on a great show. It doesn’t matter if he is at a sold out show at Madison Square Garden or just singing on a street corner somewhere, Paul will be able to get the attention of anyone within hearing distance and give them an incredible performance.
The show started with the band busting out an instrumental piece that featured solos from every member, including the two man horn section. The seven piece outfit from Alabama made everyone forget about the world outside of the show that night while they were on stage, something that every band/musician should aim to do to their fans. It’s pretty obvious they are on their way to a very bright future after seeing the amount of people they drew at a pretty small venue. If this was 1960, they would already be one of the biggest bands on the planet. The next time St. Paul and the Broken Bones roll through Charlotte, you need to be there, no magazine review or fan shot live video on YouTube will ever be able to give you an idea of the feeling or experience you will get from seeing it in person.
I had no clue what to expect walking into the venue that night, in the end my mind was completely blown away and reminded that there still is passionate musicians playing really great music out there. Don’t let mainstream radio artists fool you into thinking they are the best and the only ones worth paying to see. If you take the time to discover new bands, whether they are local or national, you will probably forget all about todays top 40 artist. Three great performances from Sinners and Saints, Pullman Strike and St. Paul and the Broken Bones all on one stage on one night was enough to reignite my passion for going to live shows.