Wednesday, December 16, 2009 recognize The Felice Brothers and the Duke and the King

photo by "Jumpin bean fever" on Flickr

Dave Hodge's Top 20 of 2009
1. Avett Brothers, I and Love and You
2. Wilco, Wilco (The Album)
3. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
4. Joel Plaskett, Three
5. Metric, Fantasies
6. Frank Turner, Poetry of the Deed
7. Felice Brothers, Yonder Is the Clock
8. Thermals, Now We Can See
9. Phosphorescent, To Willie
10. Tragically Hip, We Are The Same
11. Wild Light, Adult Nights
12. Deer Tick, Born on a Flag Day
13. Dog Day, Concentration
14. Tripwires, House to House
15. Lucreo, 1372 Overton Park
16. Magnolia Electric Co., Josephine
17. Roman Candle, Oh Tall Tree in the Ear
18. Cass McCombs, Catacombs
19. The Duke and the King, Nothing Gold Can Stay
20. Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle, Let's Just Stay Here

Duke and the King interview in Q

photo from laurenkemery's flickr page
Q: Duke & The King Interview
9th December, 2009

in The Duke & The King

Q discusses the power of music and one of 2009’s under the radar gems with it’s creators

Imagine, if you will, a cross between Marvin Gaye and James Taylor; Smokey Robinson and Paul Simon; Sly and the Family Stone and Neil Young. Okay, got it? You’re halfway towards getting a feel towards the gorgeous and painful, yet warm, country-soul sound of The Duke & The King. They’ve released one of the year’s best albums with their debut Nothing Gold Can Stay (recorded in a cabin in the Catskill Mountains of New York State) and are utterly devastating live.

Named after the travelling Shakespeare hustlers in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Duke & The King are made up of Simone (pronounced Simon) Felice (The Duke), former drummer and writer for the equally wonderful The Felice Brothers, George Clinton collaborator Robert ‘Chicken’ Burke (The King), Nowell Haskins (The Deacon) and Simi Stone. Qthemusic had a chat with the band before they took to the stage at Manchester’s Ruby Lounge and left a beer-soaked, rowdy crowd in a hushed awe.

How did you and Robert get together? And what inspired you to record as The Duke & The King?
Robert: Love and friendship.

Simone: It’s the same thing that brought us all together. Nowell is on the record that we made. He’s a featured singer on Lose Myself. And Simi is our most recent chosen one.

How did you enjoy playing on Jools Holland recently?
Simone: My friend said we looked like an Oreo version of The Mamas and the Papas.

Being a drummer with The Felice Brothers was there a desire to be centre stage or is that just a by-product of the fact that you had these songs to sing?
Simone: No, I love playing the drums and even in The Duke & The King I still get to play a couple of songs that Bobbie gets the lead on. We swap up. Nowell grabs the bass sometimes or hits the drum kit. We started out us three guys; it was a trio first. And we’re three singing drummers. I’m proud to be a singing drummer and I hope I always will be one.

Being singing drummers how was it playing a show with Levon Helm, the legendary drummer for The Band?
Simone: It was a milestone for us. We’d done about 100 shows before that, but the one at Levon’s we’d been working hard in my barn on getting all of our band really united and feeling really glued up together with our songs and our harmonies. We really considered Levon’s show to be the launching pad for what this band can be live. Levon fell in love with our band and we got a standing ovation at the show and he called us up at the end to sing The Weight with him. And we sang with our hero, one of our biggest heroes ever. One of the most magical moments of my life.

The name The Duke & The King comes from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and the new Felice Brothers record ‘Yonder is the Clock’ comes from a more obscure Twain book, Mysterious Stranger. What is the deal with the southern thing for guys born in the New York area?
Simone: It’s the devil saying, ‘that guy’s going to die at this hour, that guy is going to die at that hour, she’s going to die at this hour’. Yonder is the clock. It’s Northern Gothic. The inspiration for The Duke & The King is that in the book there are these two drifters setting up the Shakespeare camp that was going up and down the river. And it’s that tradition of being on the river, or on the road, getting up on stage and putting on a show. And we like to bring theatre into our music. We want it to be like a travelling theatre. In the future Nowell said he would like two horn players on either side of the stage to introduce the band.

Your album Nothing Gold Can Stay seems to be about recognising your own mortality and a yearning for the innocence of childhood, yet it doesn’t sound like a sad album. It actually sounds very warm. Was that a conscious decision or did it happen naturally?
Simone: Like a glass of wine. That’s what we wanted. I think as writers and singers all of us have looked darkness in the eye. You can be rest assured. And sometimes when you have to look down that dark tunnel it forces you to create an inner warmth. D’ya know what I mean? It’s cold down there. If you face death or you face sadness, or the abyss, you have to create an inner fire.

That same warmth comes through from the letter you wrote to fans about why you had left The Felice Brothers and all the tragic personal events that had happened to you [Felice and his partner lost their first baby while he was making The Duke & The King record]. Are you generally a positive person?
Simone: Do you want to answer that Bobbie, am I a positive guy?

Robert: I don’t like to make a comment about that. But when you go through a hard time in your life and you acknowledge it, and by coming to grips with that there is a feeling of freedom. So if you learn how to go through that door and take the positivity of experience it makes you feel good to go through something bad once you understand you’re going through it, and past it. I think that’s what positive people do and why they’re not as prone to depression. When I feel more negative I’ve gone through depression in my life. So is Simone a positive person? Yes. He tries as hard as possible. But man we could be cynical as hell.

Nowell: The reality of life, life’s rhyme or reason, is that there is happy and sad. The reality of being a human being is that you have good, you have bad, you have happy, you have sad.

Simone: The world would fall apart if it didn’t have balance; the darkness and the light. We’re trying to spread as much love as we can. We want music to be a healing force for people.

Do you believe in the redemptive power of music then? Like you sing in Union Street: “As long as we’ve got rock ‘n’ roll, everything will be alright.” Do you believe that?
Simone: Well music has been for all of us…

Nowell: It’s a medicine, man.

Simone: It’s the biggest medicine.

Robert: Once again you’ve got to look at the light. I mean because Gary Glitter had rock ‘n’ roll, too.

Simi: It’s about finding beauty in darkness, and in pain, and in the abyss.

Simone: Life is hard. For so many people it’s a suffering thing. And if a glass of wine or a laugh with a friend, or falling in love, or making a baby, or walking up a beautiful hill with the sun shining on you, if you have those moments you can cherish them, and it helps you get through all the rest of the fucking rough. But music, songs, poetry, it’s saved all of our lives.

The record has a timeless quality without sounding old. Is it hard to write something without slipping into sentimentality?
Simone: It took my whole life to learn how to write like that. And it’s not easy, it’s hard, but that’s how you learn how to write. Trying to get a tradition of telling the tale of our time. You get a lot of people that take the past and just regurgitate it. Taking some old tradition and thinking I’m going to dress up like this guy used to, and sing about the same old shit. But that’s weird. The poet’s job is to tell the story of his own time.

Robert: But obviously you can’t ignore the fact of the past few decades we’ve been through as well because that has affected and inspired all of us. The classic albums and musicians of the past.

Are you aware of what the music critic Greil Marcus described as the “old, weird America”?
Simone: I think America is twisted, and it’s been twisted since we picked up the slaves on the ships, and twisted since we gave the smallpox blankets to the Indians. If you keep the channel open in your heart and mind then you can really listen to all the screaming ghosts that exist in the country called America. If you listen to it all it will drive you crazy. So you have to know when to turn it off.

There are so many singers who write contrived, trite love songs that sell millions, and lesser known artists, like yourselves, exist on the margins. What would you do if you ever got famous?
Robert: It would be like Phil Collins from that point on.

Simone: We’d have to remember where we came from. That’s what the song is about. It’s a mantra to ourselves, to remember the people who have always loved us, and remember each other. And to not get caught up in all the illusions and bullshit of fame. The disease of fame, which is a disease that England and America both have. Programmes about dancing with the stars or American Idol are completely false.

Duke and the King gets album of Year nod in Telegraph

Duke and the King's Nothing Gold Can Stay at #1 and The Felice Brothers Yonder is the Clock at #4

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Duke & The King, Manchester

A royal performance: The Duke & The King, Manchester Ruby Loungeby Ed Devlin. Published Thu 26 Nov 2009 20:00
The Duke & The King

video by ChucksmithNYC again!

Duke & The King, Manchester Ruby Lounge, November 21, 2009

“We’re all in Manchester, and we’re all united,” says Simone Felice in an attempt to convey a sense of bonhomie between the band and their audience.

As an American he can be forgiven for not showing the correct football etiquette as half the room boo his genuine, if corny, attempt at spreading the love.

Thankfully The Duke & The King’s set provokes a more positive reaction, with everyone in attendance in the palm of their hands from the opening chords of ‘If You Ever Get Famous’ – also the first song of their haunting, and beautiful, debut album ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay.’

It’s followed quickly by new single ‘The Morning I Get To Hell’, and it’s clear that as good as the album is, The Duke & The King live is an altogether more enthralling experience; spiritual even.

A wonderful mix of soul, country and West Coast folk, Smokey Robinson dueting with James Taylor, Sly & the Family Stone teaming up with Simon & Garfunkel. Whatever it is, it’s special, it’s liquid music.

The band performs as a quartet live, and all four members have sensational voices with a sensational variety. They swap instruments giving the night a very intimate feeling, as if any member of the crowd could get up there and join in at any time.

Felice (The Duke) takes lead duties on most songs and has a raw sadness about him, as well as a warmth that he shares with everyone in the venue. This is evident on ‘Don’t Wake The Scarecrow’, from The Felice Brothers’ second album, a beautiful number that is lyrically stunning. And on ‘Union Street’, a song that wistfully reflects on getting back to a more innocent time, and one of the night’s many highlights, there is a collective lump in the audience’s throat. “As long as we’ve got rock and roll, everything will be alright,” sings Felice. Amen, brother.

Robert ‘Chicken’ Burke (The King) showcases his sweeter, sun-kissed vocals on ‘Suzanne’, as well as a versatility throughout the night, as he jumps from guitar to bass to drums with ease.

But it is the big man wearing the Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt that surprises the most. Nowell Haskins (The Deacon) plays the drums and supplies soft backing vocals until ‘Lose My Self’ when a volcanic eruption seems to happen. As he opens his mouth a voice like molten lava comes flowing from his incredible pipes. This understatement sums up The Duke & The King; when they are able to use a singer of this talent so sparingly, and brilliantly, it is evident that we’re in the presence of something very special.

Simi Stone, the fourth member, is as important to the whole as the three main players, her violin playing more than a little reminiscent of Scarlet Rivera on Bob Dylan’s Desire.

All this comes together, and reaches a climax, for a breathtaking rendition of Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’. After intense, and pleading, screams from the audience the band appears for a moving encore of ‘One More American Song’, the final track on their album.

If tonight is just an intimate, quiet gig it’s frightening to think what this band would sound like in full flow. Lyrically as good as anything released in the last few years, and musically joyous and full of pathos at the same time. Long live The Duke & The King.

New single ‘The Morning I Get To Hell’ released 14th December

Nothing Gold Can Stay Named Album of the Year
Photo by elchicodeleche

by Simon at Beat-Surrender

Much procrastinating going on recently trying to settle on my choices for a Top 20 of 2009, in truth there was little between many of my choices and when I look what I left out it reinforces what a wonderful year it's being for Americana and Alt-country flavoured music, through all this one album has stood out from the pack and this was the one.

There was a buzz around about this album prior to it’s release and indeed the taster track that was set free If You Ever Get Famous caught my attention immediately, this was an album I had to get my hands on as soon as – and my faith was rewarded because this set of songs went straight to the top of my 2009 albums and nothing released since has had what it takes to change my mind about what would be my top album of the year - and if you twisted my arm for a top ten albums of the decade I'd be hard pressed not to include this one.

The tragic backdrop story to the album is well documented and I won’t dwell on it, but a sadness does permeate this album but there are moments of hope here, glimpses of salvation – it’s not all loss, lies, despair and pining for the past. The writing is top notch and if you don't already know Simone Felice is a published author, one of his book's Goodbye Amelia will hopefully arrive with me Christmas morning.

It’s not just the writing and literary references that make this album stand out, the other elements hold up under scrutiny too, Simone Felice’s lead vocal fits hand in glove with the songs, the combination of 70’s folk hero and blue eyed-soul that wraps itself around the lyrics and then there is the wonderful harmonies and support vocals provided by Robert Burke, the Rev Loveday (Nowell Haskins) and Simi Stine. The sympathetic production allows the songs to breathe, to sink into the consciousness - it's an album which demands your attention and rewards it richly in return.

I’ve heard the band being described as many different things but if your after labelling it then the umbrella genre of Americana would surely fit the best - after all two icons of American culture are prominent, the title Nothing Gold Can Stay pays homage to Robert Frost and the band take their name from Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

No favourite’s on this record the whole albums a work of art, if you need convincing to buy this album then I hope some of the tracks below will help you make up your mind, you can purchase the CD from Loose Records , if you prefer vinyl you can get your hands on an audiophile 180g LP from the guys at Diverse (check our their charity calendar of album covers here) and finally there’s also a lovely Double-7” Inch Gatefold Single of If You Ever Get Famous available from Loose Records, this is backed up by two tracks from the album, Union Street and Still Remember Love as well as an exclusive track One More Year.

One regret this year on the music front was not going to the see the band live, so this breaking news from Teek on Americana UK forum is welcome news.

"Simone said they will be recording a live album over two nights in February at Levon Helm's studio. Don't know specific dates but he said they'll be doing the Felice Brothers tunes from their set (Scarecrow, Belly, Radio Song, Devil), a few songs from Nothing Gold Can Stay, maybe one or two new ones and some covers" Dan Deluca's five best shows of 2009

Dan DeLuca's Best Five Shows of 2009
By Dan DeLuca

Inquirer Music Critic

1. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Oct. 20, the Spectrum. The sixth and last of Springsteen's '09 Spectrum shows was the best. Trust me, I saw them all. The Boss' last night in town stood out, from the ultra-rare "The Price You Pay" opener to the "Save the Last Dance for Me" and "Higher and Higher" encores. The Darkness on the Edge of Town performance the previous week was the one I was stoked for, but that show was topped with ease by the Born in the U.S.A. night, when Springsteen reminded fans that his 1984 blockbuster can stand with his best work, and rose to the occasion with a 31/2-hour sweatathon that matched the momentous occasion.
2. Leonard Cohen, May 12, The Academy of Music. It was a good year for old men. I caught the 74-year-old Cohen twice this year - once at the Beacon Theater in New York, and again at the Academy. Though the shows were identical, they were also identically remarkable: elegant three-hour evenings in the company of a genteel song-poet and philosopher of love and death who nimbly skipped on and off the stage and fronted a knockout band whose musicianship was matched by its sartorial splendor. Watch the Live in London DVD.

3. Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, May 29, World Cafe Live. Black Joe Lewis, the 27-year-old soul shouter and guitarist from Austin, Texas, who fronts the hard-driving, horn-heavy Honey Bears, played on a remarkable Friday night during the Non-COMM radio convention at which the Avett Brothers, Rhett Miller, and Tre Williams and the Revelations also played. Lewis' Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! album is good and gritty, but only hints at the garage-soul mayhem the group unleashes on stage.

4. Pearl Jam, Oct. 30, the Spectrum. I almost got crushed to death on the concourse on the next-to-last night at the Spectrum. So maybe it was that happy-to-be-alive euphoria that animated Pearl Jam's penultimate show at the South Philadelphia arena. More likely, the Seattle band didn't have the burden to carry that it did the next night, and was free to cut loose. The raucous reception was unmatched by any during the Spectrum's final year of shows, particularly as the grunge survivors fired away with "Jeremy," "Alive," and The Who's "Baba O'Riley." "We've played a lot of shows here," Eddie Vedder said. "And this is the crowd we've been waiting for."

5. The Duke & the King, Aug. 3, First Unitarian Church Chapel. If this were the 2008 list, I would have included seeing the Felice Brothers in Frank Furness' tiny chapel, which is the smallest of the three venues at the always all-ages church. That was a killer show from the Upstate New York family band. This year, Felice brother Simone made a singer-songwriter move with one of the year's sleeper albums, The Duke & the King's Nothing Gold Can Stay. During his August show, Felice and his bandmates raised a gospel ruckus, and brought his tender and intelligent tunes down to a hushed whisper in the coolest room in town.

Drew's House Part 2 December 12

SETLIST (91:57)
01. Introduction
02. If You Ever Get Famous
03. The Morning I Get To Hell
04. Don't Wake The Scarecrow
05. Suzanne
06. In This Place We Call Our Home
07. Union Street
08. Summer Morning Rain
09. The Devil Is Real
10. Water Spider
11. I've Been Bad
12. Radio Song
13. Helpless¹
14. All When We Were Young
15. Mercy
16. Something In The Way² (Nirvana)
17. One More American Song

Thanks to Billy Brock for this info.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Felice Brothers Tour Dates

December 2009
Thursday 31 | Southpaw-SOLD OUT, Brooklyn, NY - more info
January 2010
Thursday 28 | Mexicali Live, Teaneck, NJ - more info
Friday 29 | YMCA Boulton Center, Bay Shore, NY - more info
Saturday 30 | Capitol Theatre, York, PA - more info

this on the heels of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette naming Yonder is the Clock as one of the Ten must hear albums of 2009

and you all know i love the "Stillwater" photo i posted from the mixtape (with Ian as Russell Hammond) every time i see this photo, i expect Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe to explode.

maybe my alltime favorite picture of the band.

The Duke and the King Christmas Show at the Colony Cafe

You can buy tickets for this wonderful opportunity right HERE

see you there!!

The Duke and the King at the Bowery Ballroom Dec 9

The Greenshoelace Flickr Page

Notes from Sean at;

Willy had a nice opening set of 10 to 12 songs, and knows how to hold the audience's attention while alone on stage. Nice mellow set that included some chatting with the audience. It was a pretty nice crowd, no problems I could see the whole night.

Once Willy finished up we got to see The Duke and the King do what they do best. Play from the heart and make everything just feel so natural. There was a small bit of technical difficulties when starting the first song. Simone's guitar was plugged in but it didn't seem to be working. They switched it up and the show quickly got under way. I'll have some videos up of this set, as well as a ton of photos soon. Pretty normal setlist that they've been known to play. I was sad because they didn't play "This Place We Call a Home" but we did get a bunch of the classics. Songs included were Union Street, Don't Wake the Scarecrow, The Devil is Real, If you Ever Get Famous, Morning that I get to Hell, Helpless, One More American Song among others. They played Suzanne which I was glad to see.......I love it when Chicken steps up to the mic to take over. The band looked very happy on stage and seemed to be having an amazing time.

Finally, the headlining act came out.....AA Bondy, Macey Taylor (bass) and Ben Lester (drums, slide guitar) took to the stage. I was told by the security not to take any more videos but I snuck a few in that will get uploaded to Youtube. Bondy was amazing in his ability to go from heavy feedback-filled swampy jamming to soft, melodic finger picking. His between-song banter was hilarious as always. Before the song "Oh The Vampire" Bondy began saying "Fuck Twilight.....that stuff is bullshit. I wrote this song before all that Twilight, True Blood bullshit. Here's a song called Oh the Frankenstein". We also got to hear him talk about how he has a funny job and that he's glad for it. One of my favorite talking points was "Fuck Scrappy Do. I never like Scrappy Do, Scooby was way better. Sometimes when I'm watching it i'll say Oh sweet Scooby Do is on.....then I can tell by the animation that he'll be there and then I see Scrappy and say ahhh shit." He also mentioned liking Scooby's cousin Scooby Don't.

Stage banter aside....the show was awesome. Bondy performed the hell out of tunes from both of his albums, as well as beautiful covers of My Funny Valentine and I'm So Lonesome I could Cry where Bondy was on stage alone for some intimate music that was dedicated to different people. I'll update this thread when I get photos and videos up on the site and youtube. Just an awesome night all around.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Unitarian Church Philly December 8

"I want to be with you."
"You can't"
"You can't. You have to carry the fire"
"I don't know how to"
"Yes you do"
"Is it real? The Fire?"
"yes it is"
"Where is it? I don't know where it is"
"Yes you do. It's inside you. It was always there. I can see it"

-Final conversation between the father and young son in "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy

The crowd at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia were likely not unfamiliar to the members of the Duke and the King. Most have
been following singer Simone Felice since he and his critically acclaimed brothers started barnstorming the United States and Europe in 2006. The bond that
Felice formed with those fans was a very strong one, and those bonds have carried over to his new project "the Duke and the King" featuring most notably Robert "Chicken" Burke, as well as
Nowell "the Deacon" Haskins and Simi "the Duchess" Stone. The show wasn't really a group of performers playing their songs for their adoring fans, but rather resembled, more accurately, a family,
a gathering of people related, not by blood, but by purpose, a shared vision of love. This was as much a group hug, as a musical performance. Felice, who is preacher/shaman, of this church of poetry,
love and music, has always understood the true meaning of "concert", a mutual action. One moment that struck me Tuesday night, was when i noticed a female fan, standing at attention
during the songs, moving her lips with each syllable "One More American Song", as she had done with virtually every song all evening, and thinking this isn't mere adoration of her mostly male pop stars.
She was all in. emotionally and spiritually. This was church. She is carrying the fire too.

The show was phenomenal. Quite simply they are the very best live act in this folk/Americana genre. The harmonies were off the hook, and honestly, when they utilize their full arsenal, with Simi and Nowell adding so much, they have no comparison with any current act I can think of. The one thing that sets them apart more than anything, is how they utilize Nowell to accentuate the keys moments in songs. What other folky band can have a guy do that? It's really unique, it's their hook.

Simone was wonderful as always, and put out the best ever version of Union St, in which he stopped at the bridge and just started having a conversation with the audience, about the turmoil that lives around us, or within us. Really cool, but it just built up the tension in the room as he broke into the verse that really hits home, and makes this song not just a fantasy, but a real contemplation of our past and a reason to look forward;
"you were the prettiest girl in town,
But your Ma was a druggie and kicked you around,
Everyone knew the word on the street
Knew she was easy
So easy
Your Ma was easy
So meet me there in the parking lot
And bring those pills you stole from your mom
And we'll be gone
Long gone"

Truly stunning.

Other highlights were the new classic "this place" sung by Nowell and performed full band.
He left the small crowd with their jaws on the floor. Nowell also accentuated "Helpless" with a rendition of "Amazing Grace" in the middle


-If You Ever Get Famous
-Morning I Get To Hell
-Don't wake The Scarecrow (verses sung by Simone, Nowell, and Simi)
-Suzanne (Bobby Bird vocal with interplay with Simi's violin)
-This Place (Nowell), full band arrangement
-Union St/Amazing Grace (Simone and Nowell lead vocals, with Simone mid song rap session about our troubled world and the shelter this music and that church provides us.)
-Waterspider(full band) best ever version I have heard in person, it kinda rocked comparitively to the
Solo acoustic version on record
-Ive Been Bad(Bobby Bird lead vocal)
-Devil is Real
-you're Belly in my Arms(showstopper, I thought I saw a tear roll down someone's face when he sang "I said that cloud is shaped like a burning man......")
-Radio Song (very nice version with funky instrumental breaks for Simi, Deacon, Bird, and guester "fur". )
-Helpless/Amazing Grace (Simone, Nowell with extended singalong by congregation.
-All When We Were Young (vocal no drums, a nice surprise, and a song that has aged very well)
-American Song (requested all night, this has become a classic already, insteading of a goodbye, that it apparently is, this rendition played like a reaffirmation of our bond to one another)

Special night.

also mention that Take This Bread was in Philly and handing out those bagged lunches to folks in Gemantown area and Delaware Avenue area of Philly. Met some really nice folks and had a good time. Also did make a donation of bread over at Philabundance, a local area food bank, on West Berks st. The bag Lunch above is one of the lunches that we gave out.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New interview with James Felice

Intense And Off The Cuff: Our Chat With James of The Felice Brothers
27 November 2009

“I’ll just stand in the middle of this parking lot. It will be awesome,” James Felice laughed through the phone from an unidentified swath of pavement in upstate New York. I’d caught him red handed getting gas station coffee somewhere near his home in the Catskills (“I still get coffee at gas stations for some reason… They’ve got pretty good coffee here actually”), to where The Felice Brothers had just returned after a mostly sold out sweep through the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. The irony of Europeans eating up their rootsy brand of rolicking Americana with such gusto is not lost on James, “Apparently the Europeans like Americana more than the Americans do,” he said, “I don’t really know. I don’t know why they like it so much, but they do. It’s really great for us because we get to travel over there and it’s pretty amazing.”

But “pretty amazing” was about all James was willing to divulge about their across-the-pond antics: “It was very surreal. And, um, I have crazy stories but I shall not share them…with the public. What happens in Europe is best left in Europe, perhaps,” he laughed, “We’ve had a great time. It was wild. There was drunken revelry. We got sick, then we got better. Then we had a lot of fun, we were exhausted and then were, at every turn, amazed at how many people came out to the shows and how much they enjoyed it.”

Overseas partying and internationally packed houses would be a dream come true for any band, but the Felice Brothers have certainly paid their dues. Long before their legendary performance at the 2008 Newport Folk Fest, where their energetic, hour-long, unplugged set in the pouring rain won them a cult-like following, James and his brothers, Ian and Simone, were playing backyard barbecues.

They soon graduated to busking in the New York City Subway. “It was always busy and bustling and we played as loud and as hard as we could,” James remembered, “Sometimes people paid us and sometimes they didn’t. It was pretty exhausting. It didn’t last that long, eventually we got pulled out of the subway to play actual shows. But, while we were down there, it was an amazing learning experience– I’ll tell you that.”

Though eldest brother Simone recently left the band to start the more pared-down, introspective The Duke & The King, James and Ian are joined on stage by washboard player and fiddler Greg Farley, drummer Dave Turbeville and their friend Christmas on bass. “Two brothers in the band and three other guys that are like brothers,” James explained, “We live together, we work together, we tour together. We’re around each other all the time—which is great. Sometimes we get in fights. People throw things, say things that they didn’t mean. But most of the time it’s great, being that close to a bunch of dudes. It’s like being married, I’ve said that before. It’s like being married to four other guys. It’s really intense but it’s really awesome.”

Intensity seems to be the name of the game when it comes to the Felice Brothers. Their headlining gig at the Paradise proved a cramped, crowded and downright rowdy affair. While not surprised, we were glad to see the love Boston showed the boys that Thursday night, “I love coming to that town, anytime. It’s great. I’m really excited to get back there, actually,” James had told us only a few days before. “I love playing Boston. I think besides New York, Boston is my favorite city in the country… Bostonians have a certain attitude that is sort of similar to… I guess the Irish attitude. Just sort of get drunk, have fun. Get in a fight. I love that style. It’s honest and it’s endearing. When they really like something, they really go for it. The shows we’ve played there have all been really vibrant and electric because of the audience. And you’ve got beautiful women there too, in Boston.”

–Jessie Rogers

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Great Reviews From London for The Duke and The King

aside from the the news that Daily Mail columnist Tim Delisle declared the Duke and the King "Reign Supreme", come this article in by Joy Thomas.

If you could be present at any point in the past when and where would you go?

My answer, for a good while, has been 25 November 1976, in the front row at the Winter Ballroom as The Band and their friends recorded The Last Waltz. I am an archivist by trade (I know) and should rightly answer this question with some lofty and important point in history, like hanging out with Martin Luther when he was pinning the 95 theses to that church door in Wittenberg… Well. Hear this, folkingcool. After seeing The Duke and The King I’ve changed my answer. I now feel I could happily go back and dick about with Martin Luther in 16th-century Saxony as my hunger for The Band has been sated. I’d get meself tonsured and evangelise about my new religion called The Duke and the King (and maybe tickle Protestantism up a tad in the process).

Oh, but how would I get this across to Martin Luther? I’d have to tell him what he already knew, that it’s so difficult to explain something that is essentially psychological and spiritual and moving and to over-describe it makes the experience curdle, makes it false (you listening, Pope Leo X?).

The Duke and The King showed themselves to be four people who love and live music: they all took a lead vocal, they swapped instruments, they shared microphones, they flung their arms around each other, they laughed. Usually you get sweat and high spirits towards the end of a set but by song two they were leaping about the stage exuding comfort and confidence in their music, and in their audience. I was reminded of the gospel tradition when they joined in with one another, seemingly when “the spirit took them”. (I’d worry Martin Luther by telling him that WORD magazine pointed out that they could definitely start a cult. And that I’ve already put my name down.)

They’re those peripatetic troubadours who pop into your life to sprinkle it with ideas, songs, and exaltation… and then disappear with but a wink. They’re the people you see in the background of cafĂ© scenes in films (but never in real life). They inhabit one of the really exciting worlds at the top of the Magic Faraway Tree that you have to wait ages for.

To be honest, I’m not even sure they really exist.

I’m spellbound and I don’t believe there are words to describe them. Oh alright, so there are words to describe them but they’re all in the spiral bound notebook of the reviewer who I chanced to be standing next to. Oops. I’m afraid after a few attempts I stuck my biro in my hair, my notebook down my top and used my arms much more profitably to wring my hands in wonder, to clap, to wave, to dance.

Some facts:

The sound was NOT professional, or of quality that you’d expect from such a famous venue. The Scala should be ashamed of themselves.

Simone Felice looks like he’s from Blackadder the Third.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Yonder is the Clock gets one poor review

From CDinsight

Another in our yearly recap is the Felice Brothers, from whom Simone Felice broke off. While their albums don't necessarily merit comparison, there is little doubt that Simone's "Duke and the King" duo took the greater part of the talent in the transaction. To be sure, "Yonder" will please the Felice Brothers fanbase, but does little to reach beyond. While tracks such as "Run Chicken Run" and "All When We Were Young" display the range of their talent, with the former's Louisiana swing propelling it, and the latter's slow rag-time piano, the album on the whole is filled with decent, but not exceptional tracks. The opener, "The Big Surprise," demonstrates exaggerated Dylan-esque vocals, which are, at best, an acquired taste, and worse, somewhat detracting from the song; the energy of the live "Memphis Flu" is impressive, but the track is cluttered and not impressive compared to their contemporaries. Not a poor album for the folk revivalist, but one can construct a list of other folk artists (Sam Beam, Levon Helm, M Ward) who do better to push the boundaries and take you out of your expectations.

pic link

"This Place" from Amsterdam

this often requested item with Reverend Loveday singing. Glad to see this song in regular sets now and with Simone and folks apparently looking to put it on the next Duke and the King album.

quasi music video for Morning i Get to Hell

from MikBowie youtube channel

Neil Mcormack raves again about Simone Felice in London Telegraph


I was at a small venue in London last Sunday, when a call came through from a radio station. Jedward had been expelled from X Factor. The station wanted a music critic to discuss the chances of the non-singing-barely-dancing conjoined twins’ survival outside the artificial womb of “reality” TV, in the actual “real” world of record and ticket sales. To which the only sane reaction, surely, is complete indifference?

I told the researcher I couldn’t help because I was about to watch a performance by one of my favourite bands, The Duke & The King. What I didn’t mention was that they were led by a musician, Simone Felice, who himself can barely sing (at least he has a thin voice, prone to going flat) and has never been known to dance, and who frankly wouldn’t survive the first audition in front of Simon Cowell and his panel of squabbling egotists.

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Ten singers who can't sing What’s more, Felice will probably never hold the attention of an audience of millions on Saturday night TV, never top the charts or cause tabloid hysteria. But on a cold, wet Sunday night in London, he and his band held a few hundred devotees spellbound with one of the warmest, funniest, most intense, emotional and spontaneous performances we will ever be lucky enough to witness, and he will be back doing that, making extraordinary music of the highest artistic standards for years, maybe decades to come.

As for Jedward? They have the kind of gauche adolescent confidence and extravagant hair that sets young girls hormones a-jiggle. Back in the Eighties when DIY pop eccentricity held sway and the excitable Smash Hits magazine dictated the agenda, they might have enjoyed a year of mania before their inability caught up with them. In the modern era of pop as televised light entertainment, I suspect we have witnessed their whole accelerated career arc in weekly instalments, and they will now proceed more or less directly to employment as children’s TV presenters without actually scoring more than a token novelty hit. And they should count themselves lucky. The key element in their act was neither their appearance or voices but their ability to infuriate Britain’s favourite pantomime villain. Jedward’s most insistent hookline was Simon Cowell’s petulant protestations that the X Factor was “a singing competition”.

Despite Cowell’s complaint, popular music is not about singing, and never was. If you insist on only hearing the most technically accomplished vocalists, go to the opera. Popular music is about the delivery of a song, with character and authority, vital ingredients that Jedward lack. Sure, they couldn’t sing. But they couldn’t not sing with any real conviction either. What they did was transparently fake. What people really respond to is the truth.

Ever since Bob Dylan opened the floodgates, any populist poetic voice who wants to communicate in a mass media forum is likely to form a band, whether they can sing or not. Indeed, many of my all time favourite singers have barely a note between them. Can you imagine what Cowell would say if Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Ian Dury, Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker and Nick Cave turned up to audition for the X Factor? But what a gig that would be!

If pop music was a singing competition, how would Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan, Bryan Ferry or Madonna have fared? Johnny Rotten inspired a rock revolution with a voice like a cat going through a mangle. But it is not necessarily even about being an original songwriter. Although Johnny Cash wrote some classics, his cracked, wobbly baritone was every bit as effective when singing other people’s songs, as his late series of ’American’ albums attests. It is about authenticity, the complete ownership of the lyric.

These people have the triple X factor: personality, integrity and vision.

They produce vocals where character matters more than note for note perfection and bring out something utterly unique and transcendent, a real human soul, wrapped up in a song.

That is why I was out listening to the fractured warblings of Simone Felice instead of being hypnotised by Britain’s favourite pop freak show. And why real music fans will keep coming back to see how he is developing and find out what he has to say, when Jedward and the rest of the X Factor also-rans are long forgotten. It is why, ultimately, Felice will prove more important to pop culture, and actually sell more records and tickets over his lifetime than any novelty fad. If we must listen to singers who can’t sing, surely we had better find ones with songs worth singing?

Friday, November 27, 2009

12 Songs that Changed my Life

Music, you know-- true music--
not just rock 'n' roll-- it chooses you.
It lives in your car, or alone, listening to your headphones--
you know, with the vast, scenic bridges and angelic choirs
in your brain.

It's a place apart...
from the vast, benign...
lap of America.

-Lester Bangs in Almost Famous

I always wanted to be one of those guys that when recalling the ten songs that affected them most significantly, would pull out some really cool and interesting choices, like an odd cut of a Stiff Little Fingers LP, or something off a mixtape KRS One made before Boogie Down Productions, or some really obscure country song by Charlie Pride. Simply not the case. As Lester points out, you do not choose music, it finds you, it grabs you, invades you and lives inside of you throughout your life.
Here are my songs, some i listen to all the time, some i haven't intentionally listened to in decades, but when they play one the radio they can instantly pull me back to the moment where they introduced themselves to me.
12. "Kashmir" Led Zeppelin
Generally i despise classic rock, but when i was a teen a huge movie was "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". In this film, quintessential high school douche, Mike Damone tells "Rat" that playing Led Zep, was key to scoring with chicks. After a few years of frustrating defeats at the hands of the young ladies in my high school, i can say girls never liked Zeppelin, i shoulda went with James Taylor!
Mike Damones Five Point Plan

11. "Musta Got Lost" J Geils Band
No song ever captured my imagination to the theatrical side of music like the live version on the "Blow Your Face Out" lp. Peter Wolf, playing his alter ego "Wooba Gooba" gave the best intro in rock history, and got me to buy that record with my own money. My first album i bought with my own money, and i loved the intro rap by Peter Wolf ;
Hold on this song has a little introduction to it
It's ain’t supposed to be sad though you might feel it that way
It's a song about desperation,
Every now and then we do get desperate

This is a song about L-O-V-E,
and if you abuse it you're gonn' lose it
and if you lose it you're gonn' 'buse and
if you 'buse it you aint gonn' be able to choose it
cuz you aint gonn' have it further on down the line
things aint gonn' be so fine
you're gonn' to be sitting there on your little.. machine
tryin to look and keep it clean and
You’re going to be home playing bingo all night all alone
and that's why your sittin there by the telephone
and you know that she aint goin to call you!

So you put on the TV and you're watchin Johnny Carson
segwayin right into the Tomorrow show
but that don't got the go so you turn it off ya turn on the radio,
the radio don’t' seem to get the click so you say
"Hey Man, I can't lickety split"
You start to open up a little book
and there's somethin there you got to overlook
and you say "BABY, you know there's somethin on my mind!
"You say "Baby there's somethin on my mind -
I know that you're home and I know you aint all alone! "

So you start walking over to her house
and you get over to her house
and you walk over to her door and
you start poundin on her door and you say
"Open up the door bitch!”
This is wooba gooba with the green teeth, let me in!!"

Well, she opens up the door
and then you just kinda walk up to her and say
"Baby", (say Baby!) you look up way up at her green mascara
and you say "Oh my darling,
you know her and me was at the party as friends -
do not believe what they say
that's only gossip that they tellin ya -
a wise crack of lies!"
You say Darling!!!

Take your big curls and squeeze them down Ratumba -
What's the name of the chick with the long hair?
(Rapunzel!) Hey Rapunzel!
Heh heh... Hey Reputa the beautah! Reputa the Beautah!
Hey Reputa the Beautah flip me down your hair
and let me climb up to the ladder of your love!!
Because this is the wooba gooba sayin to ya
"Love comes once and when it comes
you better grab it fast cuz sometimes the love
you grab aint gonn' last and
I believe I musta,
You know I think I musta,
You know baby I think I musta,
You know I think I musta,
I musta got lost!!!!!!!

10. "True Love will Find You in the End"-Daniel Johnston
I have always been fascinated by autobiographical songs in rock history from Johnny B Goode, to Bo Diddley, to Come Together, To Born To Run, to Slim SHady, pop music is littered with incredible self reflection. This song, seems to the most real, and saddest tale of a guy living without the love of a woman. Knowing his life story makes the impact of this song even more powerful and the song almost becomes his own musical hug to himself.

9. "Changing of the Guards"-Bob Dylan
Dylan went from folk and rock in the mid 1970's toward religious music as he supposedly converted to Christianity. People dismissed this music as "not important" and a sellout of his generation. Those people missed some of the most inspired performances of his career as well as as many great songs as he ever delivered. Changing of the Guards followed similar lyrical path as Times They Are a Changing, but with more pointed attack on those living for this world, and more dazzling verbal frenzy. The last couple of verses say it all, and Bob ain't pussyfooting around, and he goes for the jugular like few have ever done;

Gentlemen, he said,
I don't need your organization, I've shined your shoes,
I've moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards.

Peace will come
With tranquility and splendor on the wheels of fire
But will bring us no reward when her false idols fall
And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating
Between the King and the Queen of Swords.

Changing of the Guards

8. "Ball and Chain" - Social Distortion
It could've been anything off their self titled album in 1990. I found Mike Ness's music to have all the vitality of the punk music that i loved, but also showed influences of folk and country. I went to see the band live and was transfixed by an absolutely charismatic frontman, filled with rage, brains and impecable musical tastes. Ball and Chain live

7. "Triumph" Wu-Tang Clan
The Wu-Tang Clan hit the scene in the early 90's with Enter the WU, amid probably the greatest (last) music scene in American pop music history, with the east coast/west coast hip hop rivalry, fueling some great music, and grunge acts like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and ALice in Chains breaking out and indie music producing the Elephant 6 Recording Company. By the time Wu-Tang returned in 1997 with "Forever", the hip hop scene was a mess as icons were being murdered and the gritty reality of those early MC's was now being replaced by vapid self promotion. No record was anticipated than the Wu-Tang follow up, as i saw it as Rap's great hope. (While it wasn't that!), It delivered with its first single (and video) an amazing lyrical barrage, not often seen. Its gritty, its minimalist and its raw.
Video i especially liked Inspecta Deck's opening verse:

I bomb atomically, Socrates' philosophies
and hypothesis can't define how I be droppin these
mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery
Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me
Battle-scarred shogun, explosion when my pen hits
tremendous, ultra-violet shine blind forensics
I inspect you, through the future see millenium
Killa B's sold fifty gold sixty platinum
Shacklin the masses with drastic rap tactics
Graphic displays melt the steel like blacksmiths
Black Wu jackets queen B's ease the guns in
Rumble with patrolmen, tear gas laced the function
Heads by the score take flight incite a war
Chicks hit the floor, diehard fans demand more
Behold the bold soldier, control the globe slowly
Proceeds to blow swingin swords like Shinobi
Stomp grounds and pound footprints in solid rock
Wu got it locked, performin live on your hottest block

6. "Landlocked Blues" Bright Eyes
This song restored my faith in new artists, not only in their ability to write great songs, but to go for it all. The Bright Eyes production was sterling, the songs as good as any i ever heard and Conor's uninhibited view of love and politics was really refreshing. The line that got me;
and the moon's laying low in the sky
forcing everything metal to shine
and the sidewalk holds diamonds like a jewelry store case
they argue "walk this way," "no walk this way"

5. "Space Cowboy" The Jonzun Crew
This is major old school, but this was my introduction to rap music, and this (along with the Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb") dominated our high school's hoop team layup line in pregame for a few seasons. I had a teamate (Jon Scoville) who i would hang with before practice, and we would play one on one all afternoon, while listening to underground funk music from the Barnstable High School radio station. It seems so dated today. Space Cowboy
Funny thing is, one of these guys Maurice Starr, went on to discover and produce pop groups like New Kids on the Block.

4. "Heaven" Bryan Adams
All i can say is, that at the Hyannis Rollerskating Rink i touched my first booby to this song (my big move!) and when i hear it to this day it transports me to that glorious moment every time. She was very cute, although i doubt this moment had such a powerful impact in her life. I know its very sad.

3. "Complete Control"-The Clash
Without question, no song has been played more in my life than this one. I have never tired of it, and use for fuel when i need a pick me up. I think it pretty much sums up my musical ethos, even though i dont know the lyrics to this day, (and i don't want to know them!)aside from "they say, British rock is dull". The only band that matters, and the best live band ever. And I loved the harmonies!, the best i would hear for the next twenty years till The Felice Brothers!

2. "Frankie's Gun"-The Felice Brothers
People assume because i have seen 30 something shows, and i have these sites running, that i have been with The Felice Brothers from the very beginning, and that i live near the Catskills. Far from the truth. ALthough i had heard "Lou The Welterweight" before, and found it amusing, i was not a huge fan yet. In the fall of 2007 a DJ on a pirate radio station had a copy of Adventures of the Felice Brothers, and spun "Frankies Gun" as i was driving my truck onto a boat ferry. I thought immediately it was the greatest song i ever heard. It had everything i ever liked about music, it was gritty and real, it was totally unpretentious, yet alarmingly genius, it had amazingly ragged harmonies, the best lyrics i had heard in decades, and inside the walls of that truck i heard country, rock, rap, blues, and folk wrapped up in a virtually cinematic experience. It was the music that i had been waiting my whole life for and IT FOUND ME. I was so grateful, and so determined to mine this musical gold. I went home to find this gem, and i couldnt find it easily, i eventually was able to rip some sound off the internet and basically listened to this song daily for months, i soon discovered other music by these guys and was tansfixed by the songs and the sound, my early favorites being "Rockefeller Drug Law Blues" "Hey Hey Revolver" and "The Devil is Real". You all know the story. In the Spring, i picked up the self titled album, (the best record i have ever heard), and played to death all year. Still do.

1. "Highway Patrolman" Bruce Springsteen
No song has ever kinda told my story like this one. Its the story of a Highway Patrolman named Joe Roberts who is his brothers keeper, and Frankie, who finds trouble all too easily. The Album, Nebraska, found its way into a cut-out bin (that was a place record stores would place albums that didnt sell well), and i perused the back track listing and what caught my eye was one of the song titles: "Johnny 99" . I didn't know what it was like, but that title sounded so HUGE! Larger than life. I thought with a title like that it had to be great. It was nothing as i expected, it had none of the rock and roll majesty of Born to Run lp, or the punkish "I hate my dad" attitude of Darkness on the Edge of town, but instead i found a scary depiction of souls over the edge, people who are disconnected from the rest of us, waging pyschological war in their heads. This was like a punch in the stomach to me, as it reminded me of my own brother, who was born with all the gifts in the world, looks, brains, athletic prowess, but was overcome by regret, unwillingness to forgive people in our past and eventually his life crumbled down around him. He could very well be living on the streets tonight. "Highway Patrolman" was made into a movie by Sean Penn, called Indian Runner. This song and this album are listened to in the dark, alone. I do it every so often and it always leaves me spooked.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lost Treasures: Vol. 1 "Waterspider-ugly version"

I guess we might never hear this again, but it remains one of my favorite Felice Brothers songs of all time, this version really matches up well with another lost classic "Division St.) love the sound of this version, its really gritty, and benefits from Simone's and Ian's voices mixing nicely.

from Bronyaur at Frankiesgun come his lyrics

oh the band i'm followin
i could hear them hollerin
hey hey cocaine

could you meet us in the pines
and grind your lullaby
and go dance in the pourin rain

waterspider. dessert flower.
they don't make them like you no more
waterspider. freedom fighter
they don't make them like you no more

well, there's a time to give em hell
and a time to wish em well
oh hey hey cocaine

some dreams you'll understand
but some don't mean a damn
hey hey cocaine

even if forest fires rage in californ a while
even if the world turns on end
even if the union band kills the whole of dixie land
oh hey hey cocaine

Maya Solovey's response to the Felice Brothers

her lyrics to her response to Her Eyes Dart Around

Well if you look further west
To the orange and reds
Where the tree trunks have grown
Out of nothing but stone
That's where my love resides
In the black candlelight
In the fall of our death
When the world went to rest.

Well you picked up a stone
Said "see this is my home.
I'm a man of the wild
I'm forever a child."
"I can't be with no one
Who don't carry a gun."
"I live for the eyes
Of the one I won't find.

Oh lie de lie lie
Oh lord I did lie
With my boots strapped on
I made a grown man cry
Cause I became him
And he became me
And it grew hard to tell
Well who's heart had failed.

So if you look further west
Where the sun goes to rest
Out where the wind blows
Over nothing but stone
That's where my love was born
On one clear cold morn
That's where my love died
As you turned your eyes.

Felice Brothers at Pearl Street

from last year!!!!

Slideshow to "Morning i get to Hell"

Baldman thank you! review of the Scala (London) Show

Duke & The King (Live@The Scala) London
Written By: Mark on November 23, 2009 Comments

Last night after a nightmare journey into the metropolis, I was privileged to attend the gospel according to The Duke and The King. It’s the only apt description of the greatest live show I have ever attended!!!! Man, my body went through every emotion – I cried like a baby to “One More American Song”, then laughed, clapped and sang along with the massive crowd to “Summer Morning Rain”.

This band from the Catskill Mountains interchange instruments and interact till you feel like the stage has melted away. The whole gig was one big celebration like jamming with friends in the backyard. My thoughts on Simone as a songwriter are well documented, for me he is a 21st Century Woody Guthrie.

This is no one man show: Simi Stone displays amazing stagecraft as well as sweet harmonies alongside Bobby Bird and Reverend Loveday. They are mind-blowingly soulful at times and these upbeat songs full of hope counterbalance the more reflective acoustic offerings from Simone’s pen. The Reverend has one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard live, wish I could find the words to convey how moved I was last night.

The title of the debut longplayer is Nothing Gold Can Stay. I for one hope The Duke and The King do for years to come. As I drifted into the night my soul felt cleansed and my heart full of hope. For that, Simone, Bobby, Simi & Reverend, I thank you.

Many thanks to Giovanna from Sure Shot and Tom from Loose for arrangements! Finally to Shane Allen who supplied the superb photos and company on the long journey!!

Duke and the King Interview

The Duke & The King


“Unless you’ve been on planet Mars, you will know of my love for these amazing guys. It was a real honour to be invited backstage to meet them and run what I thought would be a short five minute interview. Turns out we kinda hit it off and it ended up running for nearly thirty minutes. Hope I managed to give you an insight to the people behind this inspirational band!!!”

Mark: Hi everyone! I was wondering if you could give our readers some background information on the band and the Catskill Mountains?

Simone: Where I grew up people run around in the woods crazy, light fires and drink beer. Listening to Jimi Hendrix, Iron Maiden, selling and doing drugs and having sex on the back of pickup trucks. It’s a place where it’s a long winter so you gotta learn how to read if you wanna keep your sanity. I have been lucky enough to travel around the world but everywhere I go I think about that place because it’s a really beautiful spot. That’s our homebase for the band we got a barn where we rehearse, a cabin where we record. When we are home we are up there in the woods.

Mark: I saw this amazing video on YouTube of you doing an acoustic version of “One More American Song” in Olana Bell Tower.

Simone: Have you ever heard of Olana ?

Mark: No not until I saw the video and it blew me away !!

Simone: Well if America has any castles it’s one of them. This guy built it – Frederic Church – he was the first internationally recognised American painter in the 1860’s. He was a friend of Walt Whitman and the other transcendental writers and they all made their homes in the Catskill Mountains around a town called Hudson. I go there to do some songwriting on nice summer days, and I went there and this girl saw me playing the guitar by the gardens. She asked to take some photo’s so I said I was kind of busy so she said please I wanna film you. So I said listen I have been coming here since I was a kid but that bell tower has always been out of bounds. If you can get me up there you can film me. So she went and got the skeleton key and the go ahead from her boss. It was a magical day and she said sing a song so I sung a song and it ended up on the internet like everything on the internet!! (much laughter from the room ) You know naked children and beheadings all kinds of shit. It’s a strange world we live in so we are trying to be just as rooted and on earth as we can as a band!!

Mark: I described that song in an article dunno if you ever read anything as I know people write some strange shit!

Simone: We don’t.

Mark: Well O said it reminded me of a 21st century version of ‘This Land is Your Land’ by Woody Guthrie. You know that’s how it came and much it means to me sends shivers down my spine the first time and every time I hear it. You know I really mean that!!

Simone: Wow, you know I have never had a compliment that gracious in that way about it. Because you know Woddy Guthrie is a real storyteller, he knows how to tell the story of our very strange mistake of a country, yet very beautiful country. You know man I don’t know what to say!!

Mark: Well you know that song can move me to tears, amazing song!!

Simone: (softly) Really I don’t know what to say truly.

Mark: So you had some rave reviews over here for the album, it’s been critically acclaimed whatever that is!! So how’s the record gone down Stateside?

Simone: Well we have not been playing over there too much but we have been asked to do a couple of really great things there is a radio station called NPR. It’s the National Public Radio and if you get asked to do it it’s a good honour and we have been asked onto three different shows. We were also asked by Levon Helm from The Band to play over at his house, that’s one of our highlights of our time together as a band I think. We sang our songs over at his place and everyone sang along with us. You know these real Levon devotee’s said it was the best version of “Helpless” they had ever heard, that made us really proud. If that wasn’t enough Levon asked us to come up and sing “The Weight” with him I had to remember the first and third verse that’s what he asked me to sing then we all sang the chorus together. I kept looking over at Levon with that smile and it changed my life and everyone else in The Band and made us a better band too.

Mark: Do you feel that this is like a natural progression then on from your work with the Felice Brothers ?

Simone: Yea, I guess it’s always a progression, a journey train ride, raft ride down a river and this is where it’s taking us we follow our hearts and the voice in our heads all four of us. We don’t question the voice and in that we are united as a traveling church of poetry and sex and music etc.!!

Mark: I sound like I’m pissing up your back now, but I really do think you are a lyrical genius and together as a band the harmonies you create onstage are something magical!!

Simone: I’m really glad that you are here to see us live for the first time tonight because I really feel you are going to get a heartful tonight right brothers and sister!!

All: Yea, right!

Simi: We are so happy to be here!

Mark: This is a really great venue to play guys!

Simone: Yea everyone here is so lovely!

Mark: You have described the record as about growing up in America in the 80’s, like with Union St you have introduced it onstage as such – is that a fair reflection ?

Simone: Ummmmm what do you think Bob?

Bobby Bird: The only thing I’ll say is that I think the records about more than anything us giving back what we have got as listeners to. In other words we have been shaken up our lives changed and saved by music and songs by Rock’n’Roll and as long as we got Rock’n’Roll it will be alright. I think a lot of it’s looking back on the mistakes we made in our childhood in love and life and realising – Shit!! There was nothing we could do to change it so lets live right now and all sing together and have a good time. So uh for me it’s just another time that’s passed on it relates to the past the future and the present! It’s just tying all those pieces together.

Simone: When I was a kid the first song I ever got tapped into on the radio was “We are the World”. I would sit with my Walkman and listen – it was on like every half an hour. So I would watch the video on MTV and I would see Stevie like singing with Cindy Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles and fuckin’ Kenny Loggins and that was my introduction to pop music. I have never really thought of this before but we have been lucky enough to create a band were there are all these great voices singing songs together!!

Mark: Totally

Simone: And shit we are the world man!!!!! (much laughter)

Mark: You kinda took my next words I find it’s a record that’s deep slightly mournful yet full of hope!

Simone: We want our music to be full of hope, I will let the preacher talk about that!

Reverend: We talk about the American Dream but what is life without hope of a better life, so if we can spread some of that in any venue, any interview, any photograph; shed a little light into someone’s life and give them the inspiration to get to point B, where we are trying to go, then we have done our job.

Bobby: It’s interesting when a question like that comes up because it makes you really dig into yourself to understand it. When you go through something and you really face it there’s a freedom that goes along with accepting it. So you end up feeling better though it might not feel as good as you would like it to, you know you get a certain freedom from not being weighed down by things by just letting them go.

Mark: The way I feel about listening to the record – and I’m sure people get this from your shows – I don’t want this to sound like bullshit but you feel as fan you feel like you are part of a family. Do you know what I mean?

Simone: That was the mantra that I first used to talk about with my brothers when I first started to sing and play was that I want everyone who comes to see us play – be it five or five thousand – to feel like they are part of this. We want them to sing along. We are lucky that we wrote some songs that people can sing along to. We want people to feel like they are part of something you know? Like too many rock stars they get up there and say look at me look at me I’m shaking! We want everybody to look inward and all be one, you know? Union St is a place where we can all be one and we really wanna not just talk the talk, we want to walk the walk.

Bobby: When you are really looking inward you are looking outward because people are feeling the same things. So if you look inward and find the truth of what that is you will probably find you have a lot in common with the person standing next to you.

Mark: I have taken up way too much of your time already, but I must ask you what’s planned for 2010?

Simone: Well we are going to play all over Europe everywhere, wherever people want us to sing we are going to come sing. Then maybe in the fall we will go and record some new songs. Album two will be an extension of what we started except with Reverend Loveday singing some leads and Simi Stone as well and all of us really singing together as a singing band on tape. So this year we are going to be developing that onstage.

Mark: So will that include some more time back in the UK?

Simone: Yea we are coming back in February if the people want us we will keep coming!!

Mark: Fantastic, well I had a couple of shit questions I’m not even going to bother with those!!!!! (much laughter)

Simone: Well you asked all the right ones!!!

Mark: Thank you so much for your time and warmth people!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Duke and the King Radio Song in Bilbao

Weird Night in Boston

Fame is a bee.
It has a song--
It has a sting--
Ah, too, it has a wing. -emily Dickinson


marlboro man
Murder by mistletoe
Loves me tenderly
katie dear
whiskey in my whiskey
River Jordan
Frankies gun
Goddamn you Jim
White Limo
Endless Night
Farleys Song for gramps
chicken wire
Take this bread
Run Chicken Run
St Stephens End
Glory Glory (crowd on stage)

It was a strange night in Boston, mostly because i had driven 1,000 miles to get to the show, and i was barely awake to start the show. Willy Mason opened and put together a nice solo acoustic set that was well recieved in a town where Willy is quite popular.
The Felice Brothers took the stage at the Paradise Rock Club at little past 10:00pm and the club was packed to the gills. The Brothers, through neverending touring, have built a growing ministry of rock and roll, with lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, Ian Felice, the pied piper to a legion of fans seeking their dirtbag brand of rock, folk, country, blues and occasionally hip hop, splashed music.

The set was not unusual, except the inclusion of the brand new "Endless Nights" and
the fairly new "Stepdad", a Christmas penned tune, that was the highlight of the evening. There was very little banter between the audience and the crowd, and the most uncomfortable one was a little fun ribbing James Felice tried to give the Boston audience because of the New York Yankees World Series Title. There was no laughter, just an uncomfortable silence mixed with a few grumbles.

The crowd, mostly college students, came to life with "Frankies Gun" and continued to merrily party along till the encore finale of Glory Glory, which saw Ian invite the crowd onstage. I've seen a few of these over the last couple years, but this one bordered on scary. Ian teetered on the edge of the stage, half his boots off the edge, as the boozed out crowd, partied and sang the chorus. The fans grabbed and slapped what they wished and this was capped off by Farley's complete and violent destruction of the drum kit. The fans started to behave a little scary and taking anything that wasn't hammered down. Dave Turbeville looks helplessly as his workstation was smashed and pillaged.

Despite this, It was a night these kids will likely never forget, and they will now pass on to their friends memories of these dirtbag pied pipers. I sense the next time we see the Felice Brothers it will be down a couple of train stops at the House of Blues.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Takethisbread on twitter!

If you care to see if I survive the next ten days! I will be updating on my phone via twitter name : takethisbread

I did just drop my phone in a cup of water though!!! It may fry out, so if you see no updates after tonight that's the reason.

Wish me luck.


I'll be away for 11 days as i will be doing a shakedown hike on the Appalachian trail From the Georgia border to Smoky Mountain National Park. Will check in after the Felice Brothers show in Boston on the 19th.

the midnight ramble

The Set List:

Simi -- electric violin
Simone -- acoustic guitar
Bobby/Chicken -- bass
Nowell/Deacon -- drums (Levon Helm's kit(?))

If you ever get famous
The morning that I get to hell
Don't wake the scarecrow (with "Palenville" included in the lyric)
Suzanne (with Chicken on guitar, Deacon on bass, Simone on drums, included Simone dancing about the stage with various other band members, and the great ending duet between Simi & Bobby)
Union Street
Radio Song (with Simi on tambourine, the band sounded very tight and well-rehearsed on this number, with outstanding vocals and harmonies)
--> Helpless (with Deacon contributing a too-short, but outstanding rap)

three hours later, the encore was a song by The Band,
The Weight
Simone was tapped to sing at the last minute, and sang the first two verses, with Bobby chiming in on Simone's mic, and Larry Campell on the middle mic, and Simi sharing the third mic with Teresa Williams and Amy Helm. Third verse sung by Dave Keyes (the amazing piano/organ/accordion player sitting in with the Levon Helm band that night), final verse by Teresa & Amy. Simi played a solo on Larry Campell's fiddle, and Howard Johnson played a tuba solo, during the song.

Said one fan, "Those 7 songs were polished until they shone, but they did not lose any of their intensity. In fact, at one point in "Don't Wake the Scarecrow," Simone practically lost the vocal in a sort of guttural choke, he was so intense. The interplay with Simi adds a lot to the performance too."

another added; "D&K appeared well-rehearsed, they all gave stunning performances, and the 40 minutes flew by much too quickly. The band was tight, focused, powerful, and putting out so much energy, that during their set, I got the mental image of them playing to a huge stadium full of fans -- we witnessed rock stars, giving superior performances of their craft, last night on that stage."

The Levon Helm Band followed with a two hour set featuring:
The Shape I'm In
Such a Night
Long Dark Veil
Deep Ellum Blues
Attics of My Life (Grateful Dead)
Tennesee Jed (Grateful Dead)
All on Mardi Gras Day
Natural Anthem (Jesse Ed Davis tune, featuring Howard Johnson on large sax)
Do Right Woman (Gram Parsons)
Across the Great Divide
Remedy (featuring Jim Weider)
It Makes No Difference
Chest Fever
The Weight, featuring The Duke & The King

I can't understate the precision and quality of the performance. Their harmonies and vocal arrangements were as good as anything you might see from the great vocal groups they can be compared to; CSNY, Fleetwood Mac, Beach Boys ect. I heard one man in the lobby murmering that the music sounded like Brian Wilson's, cause it had a spiritual quality. This is something I told Simone. The Beach Boys music was really Gospel disguised as surf songs. These Songs are similar. Additionally these guys have what none of those vocal supergroups ever had, Nowell Haskins. The Big Man, delivers vocal home runs, and provides such such a potent contrast to Bobby and Simone, it makes the sound unique. It's their hook.

Still, There were a lot of big stars in that small room, maybe two or three that will one day be enshrined in the rock and roll hall of fame(yes I think Larry Campbell should and will get in), but the biggest star in that place was Simone Felice. No question. It was good to see a star take his rightful place in the galaxy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

take this bread makes first delivery

Take this Bread made it's first delivery of food today to families in need, giving 8 local families a full thanksgiving dinner to prepare at their home:
-whole Turkey
-10lb bag of Potatoes
-cranberry sauce
-turnip or Squash fresh whole
-bag of carrots

All delivered to the Edgartown Elementary School for children's families in the free lunch program, with the help of
Cafeteria manager Geena DeBettencourt.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Take This Bread Takes To The Highway with Mobile Soup Kitchen

In an effort to pursue our own creed, we have secured this Mobile Kitchen which we will be taking to locales near and far to help out folks who could use a hand.
Look for us on tour in 2010! If you want to help get in touch, hope to see some of you out there.
If some of you were wondering why i have been not blogging as often, well this is it. I've been working on this for quite a while and will be doing so in the future. More coming......

A Late but Great Review of Yonder is the Clock

The Felice Brothers – Yonder is the Clock
November 2, 2009 by Bryan Sanchez
Category: Albums (and EPs)

The Felice Brothers – Yonder is the Clock
The thousands of bands and artists whom cite Bob Dylan as an influence are just that, thousands and thousands. And a multitude more will never cite him but will fill every crevice of their music with his masterful presence and influence. The Felice Brothers are a breath of whirling fresh air with their twisted stories about betrayal, relationships, humanity and even, sports. For a band that sounds like the kind of music Dylan would be proud of, they have every reason to be proud themselves.

They’ve steadily and all the while, quietly, have built a solid following by releasing an album of stellar music every year since 2006. And now, with Yonder is the Clock, they’ve resoundingly made it four in a row – and my, what a gift it is. You see, the four brothers Simone, Ian and James with longtime friends and fellow bandmembers, Greg Farley and Christmas Clapton, enrich their music with a passion and musicianship that recalls everything that’s amazing about Americana: the ghosts of greats like Hank Williams, the blistered love of Tom Waits and even the tenacity of Uncle Tupelo.

Recorded in a building that was built around the remains of a chicken coop, these five band members create thrillingly fantastic music that’s as equally affective musically as it is lyrically. You can take the love lost bitterness of “Katie Dear,” that finds all of the members singing behind Ian’s wispily whiskey-soaked vocals and follow it with “Run Chicken Run,” a song that weaves its complicated story around twirling violin, forceful accordion and bursting drums and you’d be set. This one-two punch, neatly nestled in the heart of the album is at the very foundation: the kind of music that shocks you to your core. Poignant, stirring and stunning, it’s an amazing feat.

The meaning behind Yonder is the Clock comes from the pages of Mark Twain and it only further encompasses the band’s rich and traditional take on Americana. The band’s music shan’t be pigeonholed into a problematic genre like folk because there is far too much going on here. Even the album’s slower gems that focus the attention on the words are paired with mesmerizing music that’s rousing. “The Big Surprise” layers its sounds with a few drum spats, a ranging guitar and the slow roll of pedal tones while Ian sings about how “the jazzy band has lost its swing” and how “all your love has been a lie,” you’d think that just because you back yourself with such trademarks that you’d be able to comfortably abscond it all but for The Felice Brothers, this is about making music for a greater role.

And it just seems to come natural to them, every bit of their heart and soul is spread out in a cool amount of warmth and tenderness. Whether it’s the brooding roam of “Boy From Lawrence County” with its powerful message, or the spook and charm of “Sailor Song,” with its entirely own message of deceit and regret (this is where Waits is most felt,) each song possesses its own special destination with its own special journey and road to follow.

Furthermore, it’s amazing how everything just seems to be pieced together, as if it was all meant to be. A few weeks ago when I was in Austin for their excellent music festival, these guys were sandwiched in between Deer Tick and Grizzly Bear at a stage I was tented out at. I use that wording because it had been raining all day and in order to get a good spot you need to fight it out near the front. I was intrigued but never anticipated such extraordinary results. When The Felice Brothers took the stage, I was transformed to another place and it was a glorious feeling; hopefully you can take their music in some kind of live setting but for now, they’ve placed everything that’s superb about them and have delivered it ten-fold with Yonder is the Clock.

Bryan Sanchez

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Lyrics added for Goddamn You Jim

last verse-"lightly goes a child's soul
death will eat a mother whole
yet men must bear the burden
of every season passing"

thanks Jeffrey Lebowski.. (I know he is not Lebowski...he's the dude!)

I love that Felice Brothers as Stillwater picture. celebrates The Duke and The King and offers downloads

EXCLUSIVE NEW DOWNLOAD: The Duke & The King - The Morning I Get To Hell + If You Ever Get Famous

A couple of singer-songwriters inspired by literary charlatans, NPR darlings The Duke & The King draw from Huckleberry Finn, freshly-shot BB guns, wide plains and open spaces. At times precious, other times bare, there’s always the comforting sense of a roving partner in crime in these chords, someone to flick a lighter in the dark to signal it’s time to jump to the next train car. If there was ever a band that sounds best live, under a blanket and a starless sky, it’s probably these guys.

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