Eddie Hinton has become an archetype: the tortured white boy lost on a quixotic quest to sing like a black man. An Alabama native, Hinton was a producer, guitarist, songwriter, and a singer who spent a short, troubled life in pursuit of the African-American preacher's tone. Hinton was the house guitarist at Muscle Shoals Sound from 1967-1971 and wrote Dusty Springfield's "Breakfast in Bed." Producer Johnny Sandlin (Allman Brothers' Fillmore East, Eat a Peach) once told of touring with Hinton and how he would stick his head out the window in the cold, shrieking at the top of his lungs to roughen his voice.
Paul Janeway may have done all that and more. St. Paul & The Broken Bones is the soul-revivalist band built around Janeway's remarkable voice. They play the Levitt Shell on Sunday, September 28th. That morning, Janeway and organist Al Gamble are the guests at Grace-St. Luke's Rector's Forum on Religion and Culture.
Cultural Appropriation happens when a member of a privileged class uses a cultural practice of a minority class. From Elvis to Miley Cyrus, American popular music doesn't exist without it. But when a pasty kid who looks like it's his first day in the Regions Bank trust department opens his mouth and sings like a civil rights-era shouter, the issue is particularly acute. In the South, all this stuff is complicated. It's likely that Janeway, like fellow Alabamians Sam Phillips and W.C. Handy, was moved by the music he heard growing up in the South and, from a place of love and respect, tried to emulate it. It's complicated. Maybe it's best to leave intellectual theory in its tiny, windowless, academic office. The rest of us will be at the Shell to hear the season's most inspired booking.