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Experienced With a Child's Heart: St. Julian & Company shake up the soul scene

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Vocalist Bill Durant and percussionist Julian "St. Julian" Doyle, of local band St. Julian & Company, have known one another since their school days in Moncks Corner way back when. "St. Julian — he used to steal my girlfriends," laughs Durant. "But all along, he's been a warrior out there, keeping our style of music strong."

St. Julian & Company came about following a jam session some three years ago when Sasha, new in town following a move from D.C., "muscled her way in" with the band. Sasha isn't shy about letting a crowd know what she wants during a show. She gets to know her people in the clubs. If it's your birthday, she's going to know about it and get you seated right up front: that sort of stuff. If she remembers you and hasn't seen you in a while, you're in for a hug.

The band's current lineup features Sasha and Durant on lead vocals, Doyle, keyboardist Larry Ford, guitarist Bobby Simmons, bassist Tony Corbin, and percussionist Zion. They certainly don't lack for showmanship.

Sasha likes to call the style "sexy and grown." Experience is key to that. St. Julian grew up playing the jazz circuit with local legends such as Lonnie Hamilton. Simmons is an ace guitarist for area gospel and rock circles alike. Ask about musical influences and the list runs from Etta James and Anita Baker to James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

While their current show is built around standards and a deep well of soul, the group is actively putting pen to paper, composing their own songs and working them out in the studio. "We want to develop our own style and be accepted doing our own music," says St. Julian.

St. Julian & Company perform at Trayce's Too Neighborhood Bar & Grill (2578 Ashley River Rd., 556-2378) on Fri. Aug. 24, and at Club H20 (8484 Dorchester Road, 767-1426) on Sat. Aug. 25. See www.stjulianandcompany.com for more.

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