Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Duke and the king at the Chapel in Philly

Two of the best shows I've seen in 2009 have been by The Duke & the King, the Huck Finn-inspired duo of Simone Felice (The Duke, walking down the aisle on the right) and Robert "Chicken" Burke (The King on the left). Back in June they played in Teenage Kicks blogger Trip McClatchy's back yard in Havertown, and last night the upstate New York tandem came back to town for a sold-out show at Frank Furness' tiny jewel box Chapel at the First Unitarian Church, of which Felice said "there couldn't be a more beautiful place in the country to play." The duo's Ramseur Records debut album, Nothing Good Can Stay - my review is here - comes out today, and it's full of fragile, beautiful, tough-minded songs, stripped of any excessive ornamentation. At the Chapel, Felice talked about how listening to Run-DMC in third grade taught him about Harriet Tubman, and said he was "sweating like a whore in Church," as he made his way through spiritual inquiries like "Union Street," which takes place "in the part of town Jesus forgot." With significant assistance from the Deacon - Nowell Haskins - they opened the show with a haunted version of "The Devil Is Real," which started in the kitchen before it made it to the altar.

-Philadelphia Inquirer Blog