SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — “I wish I could explain how hard it is to eat a hot dog while singing,” Paul Janeway told Wilmington concert-goers, as he meandered throughout Greenfield Lake Amphitheater to sing through a 16-song set.
The frontman for St. Paul and the Broken Bones — who were back at the intimate venue last week — had hot dogs in tow to carry forth an odd Wilmington-specific tradition started by a group of locals.
It began five or so years ago when Janeway and his eight-piece soul outfit — Browan Lollar (guitars, vocals), Jesse Phillips (bass), Kevin Leon (drums, percussion), Al Gamble (organ, piano), Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Amari Ansari (saxophone), and Chad Fisher (trombone) — performed in Wilmington for the first time. Someone threw a hot dog on stage, which Janeway in turn ate.
Ever since, hot dogs — in real life and via costumes — have popped up at each local show.
“It’s by far the weirdest tradition we have than in any other city,” Janeway told the crowd on Thursday, May 25. He admitted to fans the first time that it happened: “I didn’t know if it was a nice thing or a mean thing.”
“Definitely not,” Ellie Craig clarified. “It was meant as a term of endearment. And it’s just so funny because Wilmington’s not really affiliated with hot dogs.”
Craig is part of the crew behind the tradition’s start, along with Tegan Harmon, Kyle Haggerty, and Kaaren Niles. All were at the Greenfield Lake show last week.
Craig, the marketing director for Front Street Brewery, told Port City Daily it started back in 2017 when Haggerty donned the first hot dog costume at a St. Paul concert.
“Sometimes we dress up weird and go to Greenfield Lake shows,” Craig said matter-of-factly.
Her friend Harmon, who happened to be eating a hot dog, decided to toss it on stage — “just to give St. Paul some love.” They also threw shoes, which Janeway put on during the show.
Craig and Niles donned the costumes this year — a duo of hot dog and mustard. They were able to hand over two dogs to Janeway during a number as he made his way to the top of the amphitheater.
“As soon as he spotted us, it was kind of magical,” Craig said. “He was singing right to us.”
Photographer Tom Dorgan of MoonFrog Media captured scenes from the show; below are pictures and the setlist, including from opener Rich Ruth.
Don’t Mean A Thing
Flow With It
Wolf In Rabbits Clothes
The Last Dance
City Federal Building
I’m Torn Up
Like A Mighty River
Got It Bad
Grass Is Greener
Lonely Love Song
Half The City
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