Broken Bones, Believers, and Innocent Criminals

I am forever fascinated by stage names. Whether the monikers are birth-given names or completely random –carefully planned or made in haste– they become a lasting identity for artists. Even more intriguing are the band names within band names.

Where would Nick Cave be without The Bad Seeds? Edward Sharpe without his barefoot caravan of Magnetic Zeros? And Tom Petty without his Heartbreakers? Sometimes the powerhouse sound behind the vocals needs an identity all its own.

Today, I’d like to focus on three incredible acts headed to SunFest who all have bands worthy of their own naming:

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, this impeccable, soulful six-piece will undoubtedly be one of the best things you hear this year.

Paul Janeway provides the gospel. Jesse Phillips (bass, guitar), Browan Lollar (guitars), Andrew Lee (drums), Al Gamble (keyboards), and Allen Branstetter (trumpet) are the noise, joined by Jason Mingledorff (saxophone, clarinet, flute), and Chad Fisher (trombone).

St. Paul is, of course, Paul– who, fittingly, once considered becoming a preacher. Everyone else is a broken bone, named after their song, “Broken Bones and Pocket Change.” To date, this ensemble has released two EPs, and two albums. Their most recent release, Sea of Noise, dropped in September.

What do I love about this band? Oh, just about everything. Their style, stage presence, enthusiasm, and range have all completely won over my heart. Their blend of southern soul, and rhythm and blues, against thoughtful lyrics will bring you to your knees.

See them in the shade of the Tire Kingdom Stage on Sunday, May 7.

Thomas Wynn & The Believers

Thomas Wynn & The Believers

SunFest is my first introduction to this sibling-led band from Orlando. They’ve drawn comparisons to Tom Petty, Neil Young, and the Allman Brothers, and have been hailed as the number one rock band by Orlando Weekly’s Reader’s Choice Awards, year over year.

Thomas Wynn is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and leader of the Believers. His sister, Olivia, also lends vocals and Tambo to the band. Chris “Bell” Antemesaris (Harmonica), Dave Wagner (Bass), Ryan Miranda (drums), and Colin Fei (keys) round out the sound.

The southern soul act has drawn rave reviews for their live performances, and have been invited to play Orlando Calling, Blackwater Music Fest, and FMF (to name just a few). They’ve shared stages with Gov’t Mule, Drive-By Truckers, Charlie Daniels, and more. On Sunday, May 7, they’ll bless the Ford Stage before Widespread Panic.

Get in the gates early so you don’t miss these brilliant, local musicians.

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

Ben Harper is a SunFest veteran, playing back in 2010. A lot has happened in that seven-year span, including Harper re-joining forces with his not-so-criminal cohorts. Harper’s Innocent Criminals are percussionist Leon Mobley, bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Oliver Charles, keyboardist Jason Yates, and guitarist Michael Ward. According to his press release, when Harper contacted the band in 2015 (after a seven-year break) he didn’t just want them to play their old hits.

“The process of working outside of my comfort zone is really important to my growth,” Harper said in his press release. “The situations I’ve put myself in have pushed me further than I could go in any familiar setting, and that’s what’s brought me back full circle to the Innocent Criminals now. Everybody went out and grew in their own ways during our time apart, and that’s brought this heightened level of appreciation for each other and what we do.”

“Each member brings a wealth of knowledge and different styles of music,” Nelson added. “What makes us unique is that we come from different places musically and we seem to complement each other because of the different styles that we play.”

In April 2016, Harper released his thirteenth (!!!) studio album, Call It What It Is, featuring the Innocent Criminals.

This year, you can catch Harper and his cast of characters headlining the Tire Kingdom Stage, on Thursday, May 4. We’ll have more words then.