St. Paul & the Broken Bones Fix It: ‘One of greatest debuts’ returns to JAS Labor Day |

St. Paul & the Broken Bones Fix It: ‘One of greatest debuts’ returns to JAS Labor Day

Katherine Roberts
Special to The Aspen Times
St. Paul and the Broken Bones play Friday at the JAS Labor Day Experience.
Courtesy photo

Jazz Aspen Snowmass announced a late change to its JAS Labor Day lineup after Black Pumas, the scheduled opener for Leon Bridges on Friday, unexpectedly canceled just weeks before the show. Filling in will be St. Paul & the Broken Bones, in the midst of a whirlwind world tour promoting their latest album, “The Alien Coast.”

“These guys first debuted at JAS Labor Day in 2017, and, I’m telling you, they brought the house down,” said JAS president and CEO Jim Horowitz.

The decision to bring them in as a backup was an obvious one and is part of a track record of incredible debut acts gracing their Labor Day stages and other JAS experiences going back decades, Horowitz said.

From Savion Glover in 1991 to St. Paul & the Broken Bones, some big shoes are needed to fill those slots. Paul Janeway, who puts the “St. Paul” in the band as the lead singer and frontman, agrees:

“It can be a little intimidating,” he said. “If people were impacted that much by the performance the first time, you hope they get the same feeling the second time around.”

Festivals create a unique set of circumstances for performing bands, who typically have less control over some variables they’re used to overseeing.

“Festivals to me, you never know who is going to play before you or after you; it’s not like we have an option in that. That said, it’s always fun. We haven’t done a lot of shows with Leon Bridges, nothing on a major scale, and we’re going to try to make it a really good show,” Janeway said.

To make it a “really good show,” there are specific things the band tries to focus on when playing to thousands of people.

“At festivals, you can’t really do a lot of ballads,” he said, jokingly. “When we’re trying to grab attention, we have things we do. We change the setlist every day; it depends on what we’re feeling and what the audience is feeling,” which is something they didn’t do in their early performing days. “One habit we got into early on that was bad was doing the same show every night. That doesn’t excite me as a performer, and now the set is a little different and that sets up keeping it fresh for us and fresh for the audience, and we just want to expand on that.”

So even if you saw the band’s Aspen/Snowmass debut five years ago, you’re bound for a different experience, not least of all because of the band’s recent departure from the soulful sounds fans may have gotten used to on earlier albums. This is evident, particularly when you compare songs like “Call Me” and current summer jam “The Last Dance” side by side.

“It’s just kind of natural evolution. I’ve always admired artists that can reinvent themselves,” Janeway said. “I will always admire artists if they try something different. If you do the same thing over and over again, it doesn’t strike me as being satisfying artistically. One day we might make another album that sounds like ‘Half the City.’ If we do, it means that’s the muse that’s going on at that point.”

Having different sounds, different influences and different flavors of music is also something Janeway is grateful for after years of performing live, as the show continues to evolve alongside their recorded tracks.

“When we first started, we didn’t have enough material to do original material all the way through, so we had to do covers,” he said. “Now, depending on the situation, we have enough music that we can do a set that’s left of center, or high-octane, which is typically a festival set. We can do that high-energy stuff specifically for this show.”

It’s a fitting return for a band that created a lot of electricity its first time around.

“Aspen’s been good to us; Colorado in general’s been good to us,” Janeway said.

Notable debuts

As for some other notable debut acts that have reveled in the goodness of the JAS experience, Horowitz has a list of specific superstars. Here’s what he had to say in hot takes about years past:

Savion Glover, 1991: “This tap-dancing wunderkind was soon-to-be the Broadway star of ‘Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk.’”

Keb’ Mo’, 1995: “His first of many excellent JAS shows through the years.”

Diana Krall, 1997: “Her first JAS show was at the Silvertree Hotel Cabaret Room in front of 250 people. She headlined, then sold out June JAS shows for thousands of people from 1999 onward.”

Susan Tedeschi, 1999: “Her first show was Labor Day at 12 p.m., then 2 p.m., subbing for a delayed artist. Many JAS standout performances followed in her years since.”

Norah Jones, 2002: “Before her breakthrough hit record ‘Come Away with Me,’ Norah played for JAS at a summer concert in The District Theatre.”

Jamie Cullum, 2007: “The Brit jazz-pop pianist and vocalist gave one of the most unforgettable shows in JAS June history; jumping on — and apologizing to — Diana Krall’s grand piano the night prior to her show. He has since become a huge star throughout Europe.”

Trombone Shorty, 2012: “He was well under 20 years old at Labor Day, almost baby faced. We have a great pic of him from that year in our 25th anniversary yearbook.”

St. Paul & the Broken Bones, 2017: “They performed supporting Nathaniel Rateliff & Keith Urban. This was one of a handful of greatest artist debuts in JAS history, hands down.”


Keb’ Mo’ at Jazz Aspen/Snowmass’ 2002 Labor Day Festival.
JAS June Festival 2002
Diana Krall
Courtesy photo
Susan Tedeschi at the 1998 JAS Labor Day Festival.
Courtesy photo
Jamie Cullum
Courtesy photo
Trombone Shorty at the 2014 JAS June Festival.
Courtesy photo
Activities & Events

Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass to start fall lectures

Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s new fall lecture series will run weekly from Oct. 20 through Dec. 6. The lineup consists of artists nationwide who will be spending one to three weeks at the ranch completing projects within their area of expertise and exploring new work in the studios.

See more