Best Soul Band - 2013
The Jungle Fire
It's 2013, and St. Louis is in a weird place. There is a tremendous sense of pride emanating from all sides of the city, but there's also plenty of discontent. In general, the people are fed up with the crime and the lack of solutions, the sometimes-stagnant politics and the overall ambivalence that's bogged down our city for far too long. Listen to a song by the Jungle Fire and this pride and frustration couldn't be more prevalent. The songs toe the line between protest and celebratory, like spiritual punk anthems draped with a funk-soul backdrop. This band is a sum of its parts, no doubt. In terms of melody, the sax and jazz flute do as much heavy lifting as the rhythm section, which happens to be one of the best in the city. Guitarist/songwriter Dan Johanning carries the pace as well, riffing passionately along with keyboardist/songwriter Adam Barr. Fronting is singer James Fields, who flat-out belts it with utmost sincerity — he couldn't sing an untrue word if there were gun to his head. This is the voice of our city, 2013.