Friday, April 24, 2009

Interview with James Felice in todays Louisville Courier

Q&A with the Felice Brothers

By Joseph Lord • The Courier-Journal • April 24, 2009

The Felice Brothers' solemn Americana pays homage to mountain music, replete with fiddles, drawling vocals and sad, sad topics. And, indeed, they hail from the mountains, just not the ones you'd expect. The band — Ian and James Felice, plus friends Greg Farley and Christmas Clapton — grew up in upstate New York's Catskills.

The brothers began playing family barbecues and street corners throughout the Catskills, and eventually they moved to New York City and performed on subway platforms — details that lend to the common perception of the band as a scrappy passion project instead of city boys playing mountain tunes.

The Felice Brothers play Friday, April 24, at Headliners. Accordionist James Felice took a moment to chat about the band, his instrument — and his trademark porkpie hat.

Why did you start playing music?

We were poor and destitute and had no direction in our lives, so we just started playing. We decided to do this for the rest of our lives. We never had that much money, but we had a great family. We had shoes on our feet, clothes on our backs, but it was all pretty simple.

What did you all listen to growing up?

Anything we could get our hands on. Lots of Stevie Wonder and Neil Young.

What led you to playing folksy Americana music?

We all started playing together and this sounded right. This is what it sounded like; we just played what we know. ... You play music you want to hear. You dress the part, with the porkpie hat and all. The ladies love the hat.

How'd you pick up the accordion?

I didn't play accordion until a few years ago, when we started the band. In early America, there was an accordion in like every household. ... It was like the most popular instrument because it was pretty cheap, until the acoustic guitar came around. Then it fell out of favor and people started playing polka on it.