Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Duke and the King at Drew's in Ringwood NJ

Don't wake the scarecrow
If you ever get famous
Union st
Devil is real
The morning that I get to hell
I've been bad
Belly in my arms
Radio song
American song
All when we were young

I got to the show to be only pleasantly surprised to find their was a keg of beer on tap for our enjoyment. Never a bad thing. While i consumed cups of beer on Drew's back deck overlooking a lake in a very nice shady location, Simone Felice was on the porch holding court, telling stories, bringing us alll back to 1985, and the 9 or 10 year old kid standing outside listening to his Walkman (for those under 25 years old, that was this incredible innovation that allowed you to play your cassette tapes and listen t the radio, when outside your house or car, totally revolutionary, i swear!) and waiting for at the top of the hour, when almost every radio station would play "We Are The World" , Simone's favorite song. After admitting that he didn't grow up listening to Bob Dylan or Blind Willie McTell, but rather Phil Collins and Cyndi Lauper were two that he liked. The conversation veered off towards Harry Chapin, the singer songwriter who started the We Are The World phenomenom, but sadly never lived to see its fruition. Chapin played every other show for charity. He talked about growing up in Palenville and being raised by his grandfather, because his dad left when he was 6 years old, then later immersing himself in books and poetry. Truly, it was like Samuel Clemens was right before us.

The show was much lower key than the previous show, Simone played acoustic the entire time, and when i went to get in my seat, the only one available was right in front of him. Now this is in someone's living room, so its small (maybe 20X30) and they put the chairs like 12 inches from the band. It was a bit unnerving, being that close. Simone looked like a rockstar right out of the 1970's, part Robert Plant, part Keith Partridge, Part Jesus of Nazareth. The set was loose and informal and filled with personal stories of all of his songs, though he did none of the spoken word like he had done before. He did go into more detail with the audience about the loss of his baby's life prior to playing Your Belly in My Arms. He also told the audience prior to Don't Wake The Scarecrow, that the story is something he saw happening as a youngster growing up in the run down boarding houses along the Hudson in Palenville, NY. By request (mine), he played One More American Song, (he also called me John the King of Bottletops, which i am not sure is a compliment, since that guy is a potentially homeless, likely mentally and emotionally damaged person pushing a shopping cart around their "shitty little town".) He dedicated the song to his brother Ian Felice, and again was nostalgic for simpler times for our country, and i think simpler times with his brother.

They finished the show with Helpless, a Neil Young cover and All When We Were Young, that covered the theme of the show, that America has lost its way and here before us stood one fine rock and roll singer longing for a more innocent time, when our ideals matched our reality a little better.

the Duke and the King were supported by Freddy Cash on bass guitar and Nowell Haskins on amazing background vocals. Here is Nowell's Myspace page