Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Duke and The King review 10-28-10 (Simon Chamberlain)

Simone Felice never fails to deliver. Erstwhile drummer in the eponymous band he formed with his brothers, he now leads his own band, the Duke and the King. “Leads” is perhaps the wrong word though – I’ve seen few bands that are more democratic than D&TK. Where else would you see the singer take over on the drumkit so the bass player and drummer can sing? Or see the singer and drummer dance together while the violinist and bass player take centre stage?

D&TK, too, have taken a step beyond the kicking country sounds of the Felice Brothers. The country roots are still there, but the band incorporates soul and funk as well – most obviously when drummer Nowell Haskins takes lead on a cover of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’.

While their records are good, it’s live that the D&TK shine. Their joy at playing together, indeed just at being alive, is obvious (earlier this year Simone came through surgery for a life-threatening heart condition, something which adds a poignant intensity to lyrics like ‘If You Ever Get Famous’ (“I say a prayer for your heart”) and the cover of the Felice Brothers’ ‘Radio Song’ (“please don’t you ever die/ever die/ever die”).

It’s a joy that the audience shares: the first time I saw D&TK was at a festival: I’d decided to check them out for a few minutes before seeing Shearwater, who were one of my ‘must-see’ artists of the festival. Five minutes into the Duke and the King’s set, my girlfriend and I turned to each other: “we’re staying here”, “yep”.  This time around, the highlight is the audience participation on the traditional set-closer: Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’. As the song winds down, the audience begin singing the chorus, quietly at first, but gradually louder and louder, and Haskins improvises a call-and-response “let me hear you know”, “sing from deep down in your soul now” in reply. Truly magical.

Four people: black and white, male and female, playing soul and rock and roll and country and psychedelica with love and joy. It really doesn’t get much better than this. Every time I’ve seen The Duke and the King (this is the 4th) they’ve been magical, and every time they’ve played to a bigger crowd. Word of mouth is clearly paying off – take my advice and go see them, you won’t regret it.

Love Me Tenderly,Dance Hall and Lady Day from Pawtucket RI


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thoughts on recent shows, new material

When you see the same band so many times over a period of 4 years, the songs, the shows start to blend together, your ability to spot the exceptional, is muted, and I suppose you can lose your connection to the songs. I feared this might happen, as The Felice Brothers rolled into my area this month. The band is presenting new material for an upcoming unnamed album, for a yet to be named record label.

Sure, the band is playing a lot of older songs as well, including slightly altered versions of "Greatest Show on Earth", and "Marie".
The best part of these shows are the new songs, specifically "Fire on the Mountain", with it's catchy chorus, and great harmonies, "River Jordan" which begs to head "back to the sand", and is chopped in half by Ian's punkish wail to "Fuck the News, fuck the House of Blues, fuck my whole career",
"Ponzi" is replete with rhythmic changes, Greg Farley, bouncing all over the stage playing virtually any instrument in sight, finishing by pounding the floor Tom. "Stepdad" is a reminder of how far (Christmas) has come as a songwriter and more impressively, as a performer. "Better Be", the Greg Farley ode to his Gramps, with it's beautiful reminiscence of his last days with his elder, sounds like a hit record.
"Dance Hall" is another fantastic piece sung by Christmas, with it's catchy "ain't it good to be back again" and featuring Greg Farley and Brendan Sheehan on trumpet.
The kids in the audience are really responding to the new stuff, bouncing all about, during "Fire on the Mountain", "Ponzi" and "River Jordan"

Perhaps the finest moment of these recent shows was the return of the older song "Got What I Need", to the setlist. James Felice is a gifted performer and a very soulful singer who emotes so beautifully the lyrics of this number. Probably written at the outset of the idea of "The Felice Brothers", the song, probably semi autobiographically details the pain, dissapointment and trancendence of the burly keyboard player with a big heart. When singing this line, I felt he was in that moment years ago, living in his car, knowing there was more, but appreciating the blessings around him;

against an old oak tree
a river by my side
ain't got no money
sleep in my car at night
but i don't mind
no it don't bother me
cause i got what i need

The one disappointment I might have is that there isn't new material featuring James Felice's writing and singing present. You can't have it all.

Judging by what I hear, and how the songs have progressed over the past several months and the messianic delivery of the new material, I think The Felice Brothers best work is ahead.

New Merchandise on the way?

Looks like a tote bag

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pawtucket RI 10/29 Setlist

Lou the welterweight
Fire mountain
Rise and shine
Whered you get the lLiquor
Got what I need
River Jordan
Love me tenderly
Lady day
Let me come ohm
Stephen's End

We should have pics, video soon.

Mountain Stage Review

From Muruch Music Blog link

Mountain Stage’s October 17th concert featured Adam Haworth Stephens of Two Gallants, Lost in the Trees, Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore, Alejandro Escovedo, and The Felice Brothers. I reviewed the show for a local newspaper, so I initially didn’t intend to write about it here. But I do enjoy rambling about good music, so here’s an expanded review with more details that pesky newspaper word count wouldn’t allow me to include…
A small but very enthusiastic crowd greeted Sunday night’s Mountain Stage performers.
During the standard pre-show announcements and applause rehearsal, host Larry Groce jokingly blamed the controversial John Raese ad for his casual attire.
For the first time in the show’s history, Mountain Stage engineer Francis Fisher didn’t condemn the audience’s first attempt at cued “spontaneous applause.” He actually said it was “ok.” Groce look visibly disturbed and I know I was! Thankfully, Fisher still requested the usual second practice session and all was well with the world again.
Two Gallants singer Adam Haworth Stephens gave the show a solid start with chiming, harmonica-accented songs from his folk-rock solo debut, We Live on Cliffs. The album features members of My Morning Jacket, Blood Brothers and Vetiver.
Stephens’ voice is similar to labelmate Bright Eyes and to be honest, he sometimes sounded like he was being strangled. But that didn’t matter, because his songs and particularly his Sufjanesque arrangements were grand. He promised at the beginning of his set that he was “gonna get gradually louder as the night proceeds” and he stayed true to his word. For a lil blonde indie guy, Adam Haworth Stephens sure put on a good rock concert.
Wheeling native Mollie O’Brien dueted with Mountain Stage singer Julie Adams on a Robert Randolph tune, and Adams later joined O’Brien and her guitarist husband Rich Moore on stage for their set.
Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore were a big hit with the locals. After twenty-seven years of marriage, the folk duo has finally released their debut studio recording, Saints & Sinners. The album includes a wide range of genres, instrumentation, and musical styles. Whether singing their own original songs or covering classics by Tom Waits, Jesse Winchester, Harry Nilsson, and George Harrison, the supercouple liven things up with splashes of jazz, blues, gospel, and cabaret.
However, it was North Carolina folk orchestra Lost in the Trees that dazzled the crowd during the first hour with their enchanting, multi-instrumental circus. Their latest release All Alone in An Empty Houseblends folk and acoustic pop melodies with lush orchestral arrangements.
Larry Groce called the band “a cast of thousands” and not since The Low Anthem have I seen so many instruments on one stage. Horns, strings, an accordion…Lost in the Trees had it all.
Singer and accordion player Emma Nadeau’s haunting wail melted beautifully with the band’s string section and drove the quiet melody of their first song up to chill-producing heights. Other songs made fuller, more rhythmic use of the entire orchestra.
Composer Ari Picker charmed the audience by temporarily abandoning the radio microphone to “connect” with them before leading them in a pretty sing-a-long. Theirs was probably my favorite set of the night, which was quiet a feat considering the rest of the lineup. I urge everyone to see Lost in the Trees live if you have the opportunity.
Texan singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo and his band, The Sensitive Boys, kicked off the second hour. Alejandro Escovedo is a favorite in my household and I’ve reviewed several of his albums over the years.
A legend in the folk community, he was named “Artist of the Decade” by No Depression magazine and deemed “his own genre” by Rolling Stone. He counts among his more famous fans Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Calexico, director Jonathan Demme and, to Escovedo’s consternation, former president George W. Bush.
Escovedo began his musical career as a punk-rock guitarist in the 1970s and his band The Nuns once opened for The Sex Pistols. He gradually moved through rock and country during the decades that followed before experimenting with a mixture of Americana, folk, and rock in the 1990s. Embellishing thunderous rock arrangements with delicate classical instrumentation, poignantly personal lyricism, and a heartfelt vocal style, Escovedo created his own beautifully distinctive sound.
Escovedo’s magnificent set was heavy on the noise, centering on songs from his recently released tenth solo album, Street Songs of Love. “Anchor” depicts love as a weight that may hold a person down, but also prevents them from drifting away. The instrumental “Fort Worth Blue” is a tribute to musician Stephen Bruton — a longtime collaborator of Kris Kristofferson and former Mountain Stage guest. Escovedo also played two songs co-written with Chuck Prophet: “Down in the Bowery,” which was affectionately inspired by Escovedo’s angry, punk-lovin’ teenage son, and “Always a Friend” from his previous release, Real Animal.
As the unofficial headliners of the evening, The Felice Brothers provided a fantastic finale. As I said in my review of their 2008 self-titled album, their music is “full of haunting beauty, wild tales, and eerie anachronism.” Their last two albums spanned American history from The Wild West to The Great Depression.
The band played several songs from The Felice Brothers album, including “Wonderful Life,” “Saint Stephen’s End,” “Love Me Tenderly,” and “Goddamn You, Jim” – during which James Felice played the hell out of his accordion.
They also played “Run Chicken Run” from 2009’s less impressive effort Yonder Is The Clock.
The Felice Brothers’ skilled musicianship, on-stage chemistry, and lead singer Ian Felice’s gritty, Dylanesque vocals made even the most somber of their songs an enthralling live experience.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Setlist: Boston

Setlist 10-28
Lou the welterweight 
Fire mountain (off the hook version)
Rise and shine
Chicken run
Step dad
River Jordan
Fuck the news
Take this bread
Got what I need
St Stephen
Goddamn u Jim 
White limo
Greatest show
Her eyes dart around 

Dance hall
Helen fry

Long Live the Duke and the King: Review from Bock The Robber

The second album by The Duke and the King arrives with the swagger of a band that is comfortable in its shoes and with a clear view of the road ahead. For those of us who had been following the progress of The Felice Brothers, the first album of Simone Felice’s breakaway project, “Nothing Gold can Stay”, reaffirmed the quality of Simone’s voice and his songwriting. It offered a restrained and “laid back” musical vision in striking contrast with The Brothers ramshackle country punk.

Although presented as a group venture it felt very much like a solo album. Here, on this glorious, uplifting work, The Duke and The King is a band and a truly great one. While the brothers have hitched their wagon onto the music and mythology of rural Americana, TDATK tap into the deep well of gospel and soul. Much of this influence can be attributed to the drafting into the band of Nowell Haskins and Simi Stone. Their voices and musical influences mix the country/folk of CSNY, James Taylor and Donovan(for God’s sake!) with the funky soul of The Isley Brothers and (dare I say it) The Jackson Five.

The aforementioned brothers (the Jacksons, that is) even get a name check on the Iraq war song “Shaky”. Here Simone laments the fact that the J 5 “grew up so fast” while his character is trying to escape the effects of that war through any pills or grooves that can be found. There is, as usual, a dark edge to the lyrics and at times we hear the world weary voice of a man who has recently had a close brush with death – Simone this year underwent open heart surgery. Yet, as in all Gospel music, there is hope and joy. As they sing in Right Now, “Pull back the curtains and open the blinds, And let the sun shine..”
Do yourself a big favour and treat yourself to this album, you will feel all the better for it!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Neil McCormick of Telegraph interviews Simone Felice


“It was scary, man, real scary,” says Simone Felice, unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a long thin scar down the front of his chest, slicing through a faded tattoo. “I’m like the crocodile who swallowed the clock. When I’m by myself, and everything’s quiet, I can hear it ticking. My mechanical heart.” His name is pronounced Simon, by the way. The stray “e” in Simone was gifted by a grandparent, who thought it made the spelling more Italian. It’s the kind of odd detail that might pepper one of Felice’s own lyrical narratives.

One of the most striking talents in contemporary American music, Felice is a critically acclaimed 31-year-old singer-songwriter and novelist. The former drummer with roots Americana stars The Felice Brothers, he has been garnering recognition in his own right as the eloquent voice behind The Duke And The King. But he almost died on the eve of completing their latest album, Long Live (out now on Loose records).

“I had been losing energy, getting pains in my heart, trouble breathing,” says Felice, soft spoken with the hypnotic rhythm of a charismatic preacher.

“I had no insurance, but I have a cousin who’s a nurse and she spirited me into the cardiology unit. I just thought they were just going to say 'you need to eat more peas’ or something. They were listening to my heart and the doctor’s face went white. It was really bizarre. I was taken to a room where there were five doctors looking at a gigantic screen with a live picture of my heart, a sonogram, and one of them said 'there is no medical explanation why you are still alive.’”

The problem was brought on by a birth defect, which had been gradually worsening. “I was living off twelve per cent of my blood flow, that’s what they told me. I’ll never forget the moment they drugged me up and I was in the stretcher and I had to say goodbye to my mom and my dad and my lady, and they wheeled me away, and I watched the people who have been with me my whole life, the people who love me the most, and knew I might never see them again. Oh” Felice stops, and visibly shudders. “It’s really crazy. I feel different. I feel like I’ve been to the other side. I’m alive, breathing deep, taking every day like a miracle.”

Gaunt and handsome, Felice writes with a rich poeticism, recounting strange tales of hard American lives set to a musical tableau that merges the sweetness of acoustic singer-songwriting with more unlikely genres including glam, psychedelia and funk. In common with his sibling band, The Felice Brothers, there’s a strange but compelling mix of high and low culture in his work, a blend of the folky and the literary that has led to comparison with Basement Tapes era Dylan, itself recorded in the Catskills where Felice grew up. “Its the sound of those old mountains, the wind blowing, the scarecrows. We were close enough to the city that there was drugs and rock and roll, and ten minutes from Woodstock so we were in the shadow of all that wild stuff. I could ride my bicycle to the Big Pink (where The Band recorded with Dylan).”

Having published two haunting novellas, Goodbye, Amelia and Hail Mary Full Of Holes, Felice has completed his first novel, Black Jesus, to be published in the UK by To Hell Press next Spring. It is set in a fictionalised version of Palenville, the town where he grew up, the eldest of seven. “It’s a weird place, outstanding beauty and jaw dropping poverty, white trash and a public library, a trailer park next to a waterfall where Ralph Waldo Emerson used to hang out. When we were kids it was before the internet, thank God, and living in the mountains there was only a few things to do, listen to your boom box by the creek, smoke weed and read books.

There was a lot of reading, cause there was a lot of time. Long, long winters.” The Felice Brothers started out busking and slowly rose to become one of America’s leading roots bands. Simone left after four albums, because, he says, “I had all these songs in my head.” The brothers still contribute to each others recordings and live shows. The Duke And The King, however, rapidly took on another flavour, with an all-singing, multi-racial line up that has grown to include two former George Clinton collaborators and a female violinist. “I kind of get to be a bit of playwright and hear these great voices singing what’s in my head. We joke around and call it Fleetwood Black.” The band was named after characters in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. “It’s a travelling floor show, river rats setting up Shakespeare with their pants splitting open. It’s theatre. I don’t just want a bunch of dudes backing me up, I want people right beside me, inspiring me, keeping me sharp as a singer and writer. I wanna be involved in stuff that feels supernatural.” The new album is more upbeat than last year’s debut, Nothing Gold Can Stay. “I guess I felt in a better place, it’s a little more jubilant.” When Felice’s principle musical collaborator, Robert “Chicken” Burke turned up to see him at the hospital, Felice urged him back to the studio to finish work.

“This could have been my last record. I was damn sure I wanted to make it a good one.”

Pic of Pittsburgh Setlist from The Felice Brothers

"Shaky" two times from Ireland for The Duke and The King

with pots and pans

and Lean on Me (Bill Withers cover)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Winning Essay for Free Golden Ticket for DC Show

Below is an airtight case for why I am deserving of your ticket. But since the Felice Brothers are fairly awesome, and the accompanying demand undoubtedly pretty high, you’ve probably gotten a lot of these, so I’ll do you the favor of a condensed version, in case you don’t have time to read the whole thing. Basically, if you don’t want me to suffer a fate of extreme envy, coitus interruptus, boredom, blind masturbation, and general dejectedness, you’d be doing the right thing by hooking me up with that ticket.

Read on for more details and answers to your specific questions…

About me: I was born a poor black child…

No, not really. I’m a boring Caucasian, though I’ve passed for Peruvian, Egyptian, and even, somehow, Cambodian. I live in DC, edit a newspaper, and sometimes draw archetypal sketches while on drugs. I enjoy playing music, listening to music, feeling music, and moving to music, but I hate tasting music. (See below for more on my culinary preferences.)

I used to get a lot of free tickets to shows when I lived with the arts editor of the City Paper. Now I get my tickets through essay contests, mostly.

Why I like the Felice Brothers: Cause they enhance sexual performance

It was a dark and stormy night — dark because all nights are, and stormy because I was in Berlin, where it rained nearly every day during my two-month visit. I was in my bedroom with a girl I’d been seeing. We’d introduced each other to a fair amount of music: I’d shared a lot of alt-country with her, since the genre hasn’t really made inroads into Germany yet; she shared some crappy Europop with me, as well as the Dylan album “Planet Waves.” But I’d made the mistake of telling her that I’d recorded some songs with a few friends in their basement, and so of course she wanted to hear them. At this point, we were partially undressed, and I had some sense of the impending danger, but I went ahead and double-clicked the track at the top of the iTunes playlist with a few of our songs.

After about three seconds of listening, the disrobing resumed, and then the lovemaking commenced. It was the first time, to the best of my recollection, that I’d boned to the sound of my own voice/guitar-playing/harp-blowing/drumming. And it was very, very distracting. I tried hard to keep my mind on the task at hand, but I kept noticing mistakes we’d made and nice little guitar fills by my friend…. I could feel that I was overcompensating by wearing a look of intense (probably comical) concentration on my face. Eventually, when the music got around to Wilco’s “Via Chicago,” and everyone starting pounding his instrument at random during that weird entropy section, I lost it completely and had to give up.

BUT: I recall very clearly that the track during which I performed best was “Frankie’s Gun!” It’s attached for your listening pleasure. Please note that the recording quality is poor, and that I’m playing drums, which I do not actually play.

Why I deserve the ticket: Cause all the cool kids have ‘em

So, that track I gave you? All the other guys playing on it are going to the show. Seriously. I don’t know how I missed out. But don’t make me sit at home alone on Friday night, listening to “Adventures of the Felice Brothers Vol. 1,” masturbating in the dark, and waiting for the tears to come.

My favorite food: Spaghetti-Eis

My dad’s from Munich, and when I was a kid, we went there most summers to visit my grandparents. There was this cafe called Cafe Venezia (now closed) where my brother and I loved to hang out. Every time, we’d order Spaghetti-Eis, which translates roughly to spaghetti ice cream. They’d squeeze vanilla ice cream through a spaghetti maker and then top it with red fruit sauce and white chocolate shavings. I’d probably find it disgusting now, but back then it seemed pretty awesome.

If I could meet anyone in the world, it would be: YOU

On Friday night, ticket in hand. Pretty please with some red fruit sauce and white chocolate shavings on top?

(Taken from Washington City Paper)

Last night's setlist (Philly)

Last night's show was really great. Here's the set list.

Philly Set List:

Ballad of lou
Chicken wire
White limo
Fire Mountain
Katie Dear
Marlboro Man
Where'd you get the liquor?
Run Chicken Run
Goddamn you Jim
Farley's Song
St. Stephens
Roll on Arte
Take this Bread
Eyes dart round
Dance Hall
Frankie's Gun

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Duke and The King "Helpless" and Pink Floyd

Since i haven't been able to score any good video out of the UK shows, (partly due to the restrictive Marxian BBC) i had to pull out this video from last month that i never posted. Yes, that's Brian Goss playing guitar, one time member of the Duke and the King band and very long time Simone Felice collaborator. Good to see him out there again. Great video again by Bruce (thanks buddy)

Beaver County Times (PA) concert review

Felice Brothers win me over
By: Scott Tady, Times Entertainment Editor Beaver County Times
Sunday October 24, 2010 12:01 AM

I will preface this review by noting that a few fans told me this was one of the worst shows the band ever played -digger

Before his lecture five months ago in Midland, I asked London music critic Neil McCormick to pick his five favorite concerts ever.

McCormick, of The Daily Telegraph, chose a couple of U2 shows, a 1978 concert by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, and a 1996 outdoor gig by Oasis that turned into a 200,000-person sing-along.

No surprises there.

But I was caught off guard by McCormick’s fifth pick, the Felice Brothers.

Really, the Felice Brothers?

You mean that 4-year-old alt-country band from upstate New York that began its career busking in the New York subway?

I own the Felice Brothers’ 2009 album, “Yonder is the Clock,” and deem it good but not spectacular. Though, I trust McCormick, so I motored to Millvale last Monday to check out the Felice Brothers live at Mr. Small’s Theatre.

At first I wasn’t getting it. The Felice Brothers seemed like any number of mildly twangy bands providing a good-intentioned mix of old-timey music with an alternative-rock edge. But then about three songs in, the Felice Brothers hit their stride, or at least won me over, with a series of songs where shifting dynamics built to a tumultuous and tantalizing climax of fiddle, drums, accordion, bass and guitar.

The results were foot-tapping and almost breathtaking. Singer-guitarist Ian Felice displayed a vintage Dylan-esque charm, while his mates, including brother James Felice on accordion and organ, must have listened to every record by The Band.

The two Felice siblings, along with fiddle player Greg Farley and singularly named bassist Christmas, stood four abreast on stage, evenly flanked with drummer David Turbeville. I liked that look, with the drummer seated sideways at a front corner of the stage eye-level with his bandmates, rather than behind them on a riser.

The Felice Brothers didn’t gab much, though they picked a few choice moments for interactive dialogue with fans, notably when a beer-guzzling wag in the back of the crowd shouted out that the band’s hometown team, the New York Yankees, were losing.

“How are the Pirates doing?” fired back James Felice with impeccable timing and a trace of a smile to soften the blow.

One of my top-five concerts ever?

Not even close.

But the Felice Brothers might sneak into the top half of my Top-10 concerts of 2010.

I’ve got them penciled in at No. 5, in a tie with the Low Anthem.


The Guardian interview with Simone Felice

Simone Felice: 'Soul music is something you put your heart into'
Phil Hogan
The Observer Features Sun 24 Oct 2010 00:05 BST
The frontman for the Duke and the King tells Phil Hogan about kidnapped violinists, Indian spirits – and heart surgery

Simone Felice – former drummer with rough-assed mountain men the Felice Brothers and now fronting his own four-piece, the Duke and the King – has a lot to be thankful for. Last summer he had the critics drooling over the group's debut album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, a collection of soul-tinged folky anthems thrumming with heartfelt angst. Now, he's pushing on with a second, Long Live the Duke and the King, which has repeated the process.
We meet at the Observer's local, sitting out on the breezy canal bank in deference to Felice's love for the great outdoors, though King's Cross is hardly the Catskills, where he was raised – a bike ride, he says from "Big Pink", the house near Woodstock, where Bob Dylan and the Band made The Basement Tapes.
"So do you like the new record?" he asks. I tell him I like it more than the first and in fact have just been humming one of the songs in the lift – "Hudson River", a lovely bit of loping r'n'b that reminds me of Sam Cooke. "That's one of my favourites," he says.
Felice is rockstar skinny with a bandanna and the sort of gravelly voice one associates with nights on the razz. He tells me about the band – drummer and singer Nowell Haskins, who used to play with Funkadelic/Parliament, as his father did before him; then there's fiddler and singer Simi Stone, an old friend whom the pair tracked down working as a waitress in New York City. "We just heard her play the violin and said, 'Get in the van!' We went and told the restaurant boss: 'She's not coming back – just give us the money you owe her.' It was about 75 bucks."
The fourth member is Felice's co-writer and longtime buddy Robert Burke, also known as Bobby Bird. "Everybody calls him Bird," says Felice. "Or Chicken. He's got a whole bunch of names. Like the devil has." Bird works out the quartet's honeyed harmonies and rootsy vocal interpolations. "He's the tsar of that – I'm more of a tsar of the poetry."
I suggest the new album is more adventurous than the first – the same kind of songs about love, death and ruined promise, but with a broader sound palette. It seems more opened up. "Yes, well the first record – that was just Bird and I. We didn't know anyone would even hear it let alone give it such praise. We didn't expect to be touring with it. So we had to put a band together, find the right people. This new album is a celebration of that."
And how would he describe this music? "I think of it as soul. The people in this group have a love affair with soul music and 60s and 70s radio. We grew up listening to Sly and the Family Stone. I know I'm never going to sing like Otis Redding, but when I think of soul music I think of something you put your whole heart into. You have to believe in it, no matter what. I was born the year after the Vietnam war ended and my music was my father's music. We all loved that Vietnam music – Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Jackson Browne, Jimi Hendrix."
I ask why he made the break with his band of brothers (they're still going strong without him). Had he been frustrated, sitting behind a drum kit? Did he want to try his luck at crowd-surfing?
"I was writing a lot of songs and I wanted to do something new. It's such a treat with this group because I get to be part of a singing band, a sort of travelling carnival." He loves the theatre of it. He says the group is named after the two con artists in Huckleberry Finn, drifting down the Mississippi, setting up stage shows and getting run out of town.
Musically, it's a far cry from the raggedy glee of the Felice Brothers (sample track: "Whiskey in My Whiskey"). Is he perhaps mellowing? "I'm getting a little older – I'm the oldest brother and oldest of seven kids! But we're two different groups. You don't want to make the same thing again."
It's all going remarkably well, though it might have turned out less so. Three months ago Felice was taken into hospital complaining of breathing difficulties. "The doctors were flabbergasted," he says. "They looked at my heart on a big screen, and said: 'There's no medical explanation why you're still alive. If you don't have surgery tomorrow, you're going to die.' They cut me all the way down the middle and put a new valve in."
He unbuttons his shirt (he has an alarming scar) and has me put my ear to his chest. Sure enough it's like a clock ticking away in there. Like the crocodile in Peter Pan, I say.
I ask whether he feels lucky or cursed. "Well I feel better," he grins. "It was my main valve that wasn't working and I was living off only 12% of my blood flow. So now I feel alive. But I also feel blessed. Everybody should have a near-death experience."
I ask to what extent open-heart surgery interferes with a man's rock'n'roll lifestyle. "For me, not at all. I was a drug dealer from the age of 15 to 23. When I stopped that I stopped drinking as well. I don't smoke. I drink carrot juice and ginger tea. I wake up at 6.30 and walk in the woods. I eat roots and berries in the forest. I pray to the great spirit – like the Comanches." He raises his cup in salute. "I'm the squarest rock'n'roller you'll ever meet."
Maybe he has that to be thankful for too, I say. "For sure," he says.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two New Live Tracks available for Good Cause



Great Video of The Duke and The King in studio performance of O' Gloria

The Guardian has posted

A stunning performance, in Hi-def, and is from the Guardian's "How we wrote this song" series.

The Duke and the King From Dublin

Low lit but still good LINK

Cypress Grove from Pittsburgh

Cypress Grove is a Skip James song they have been playing for a little over a year.

Pics and video by LaraLaurent post over at Frankiesgun hopefully she sends me her Flickr link so we can see her pics

Washington DC Rock and Roll Hotel 10-22-10

DC Set List

Murder By Mistletoe
Fire Mountain
Let Me Come Home
River Jordan
Greatest Show
Ruby Mae
Take This Bread
Run Chicken Run
Wonderful Life
Frankie's Gun
St. Stephen's End
Goddamn You Jim
Dance Hall
Helen Fry

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dance Hall (New Song)

Better Be: on next album?

New Song: The Best I Ever Had

Morgantown WV

Morgantown WV 10-19-2010

Fire mountain
Marlboro man
Let me come home
Greatest show 
River Jordan
White limo
Ballad of lou
Farley's song
Best I Ever Had
Run chicken run
Frankie's gun
Helen fry 

York PA 10/21

Setlist: 10/21
Check out Sue's photo's

Blue eyed Jane 
Fire on Mountain
Let Come home
Ruby Mae 
Best I Ever Had
Wonderful Life 
Greatest Show
Farley Better Be
Take This Bread
Eyes Dart Around
Dance hall
Cypress grove

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

. . "The worst thing is when a band acts like they're doing the crowd a favor. It's a community thing. It's not just a band it's the people in the audience that are enjoying it. It's give and take. If we're playing in front of a dull audience, we're not going to play as well." James Felice

"Wonderful Life" with Conor Oberst on vocals

Check it out

No Easy Way Out (The Duke and The King) from BBC "Loose Ends"

Live in Studio. They come on at about the 31 minute mark.


Nightmares for a Week

If you like The Gaslight Anthem, The Replacements, Springsteen, ect then you might like this trio from the same Hudson River Valley as the Felice Brothers. Im pretty sure James Felice is playing on their first full length album due out in December on Academy Fight Song Records

check them out on myspace music

Saturday, October 16, 2010

They didn't play Milwaukee but they got a great piece in The Express

Wednesday, October 13,2010
The Felice Brothers: Restless Spirits and Rustic Stories
By Joshua Miller

With a sound steeped in tradition, songwriting that’s earned them comparisons to Woody Guthrie and a young Bruce Springsteen, and a combination of perseverance and gutsy determination, New York’s tightknit back-porch Americana/folk rock troubadours The Felice Brothers have gone from playing family barbecues in their Catskill Mountains-based hometown to headlining their own tours and playing major music festivals around the world.

Formed in 2006, the band is made up of brothers Ian and James Felice (and until last year their brother Simone), their friend Christmas Clapton (previously a traveling dice player), fiddle player Greg Farley and drummer Dave Turbeville. The music they create is an extension of the rugged and adventurous lives they’ve traveled.

Many of their adventures have taken place on the road. Driving one night between shows, for instance, the pin that secured the trailer they were pulling behind their Winnebago RV popped off, causing the trailer to fly wildly around. It was raining as the band addressed the problem, and water began to leak through the roof of the RV. With no spare pin for the trailer and rain puddling around them, the band improvised.

“The pin on the trailer came off, so we didn’t have a way of keeping the trailer on,” James Felice recalls. “So we dug into the drum stuff and broke in half one of the pins and duct-taped it. We drove all night, the rest of the way to the show, and then we rocked.”

The band faced a similar dilemma at the 2008 Newport Folk Festival when a downpour cut the power to their stage. Instead of calling it quits, the band jumped off the stage into the mud to play more than an hour of acoustic, mud-stomping versions of their songs.

“No matter what the odds are, we’re going to find a way to overcome it and do what we want to do,” Felice says. “Even being the underdogs hasn’t held us back.”

While not all related by blood, their bond as a band is tight from years of playing together and countless hours of hanging out and making friendly bets on dice.

“We’re like a real family because we all grew up together and are all friends,” Felice says. “It’s for real; we’re like the only friends we’ve got. We really love each other.”

The band is almost always writing songs, drawing on a wide range of musical influences like classical music, American folk, blues and rock ’n’ roll. Felice says that his brother Ian, the band’s primary songwriter, has an iron determination.

“He’ll sit in a room for like three months and fucking write like 50 songs,” Felice says. “He’s extremely dedicated. The amount of hard work and hours he puts into those songs is incredible.”

There’s no plan for a layoff, with the band wrapping up their next album and looking for a label to release it. Similar to 2008, when they chose to record an album in a studio built from the remains of an abandoned chicken coop, the band picked a rustic recording location in tune with their sound: an auditorium in an abandoned high school in New York.

In the meantime, the band is enjoying being on the road, where every destination contains potential fodder for songs.

“We’re blessed to be able to take advantage of traveling all over the country and see all the beauty that America has to offer,” Felice says. “A typical day is us taking advantage of wherever we are and having a good time.”

The Felice Brothers play the Turner Hall Ballroom at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, with opener Adam Haworth Stephens (of Two Gallants).

The Duke and The King (sans the Duke) playing acoustic Hudson River

Today at Rough Trade East in London.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Telegraph's Neil McCormack on "Long Live The Duke and The King"

The Duke & The King: Long Live: Simone Felice is my favourite contemporary songwriter. On a more upbeat follow up to last year’s classic Nothing Gold Can Stay, he sets strange tales of hard American lives set to a musical tableau that merges the sweetness of acoustic singer-songwriting with more unlikely genres including glam, psychedelia and funk.


Burton Mail on The Duke and The King

Published: 15/10/2010 08:00
Beating adversity brings new lease of musical life
FEW people are feeling as lucky to be walking the planet right now as The Duke and The King frontman Simone Felice.
The Duke and the KingIn the last days of mixing their new album, the fittingly titled Long Live The Duke and The King, Felice (The Duke in the name) discovered he must undergo emergency heart surgery to correct the slow degeneration of his aorta brought on by a mystery childhood illness.
Unbeknown to Felice, the problem had meant that his body had been fuelled by just an eighth of the blood and oxygen supply needed to survive.
Having opted for an examination on little more than a hunch that something was wrong, Felice was told that without immediate treatment it was unlikely he’d have survived another year.
When the Mail spoke to the exuberant frontman and his bandmates as they rehearsed in their own studio/shack in the woods of Bearsville, New York, ahead of their forthcoming UK tour, I asked if he had changed his outlook on life as a result.
“Oh my God, absolutely so much”, he said. “I feel that every day is a gift and I’m just trying to dance a jig every day and seize the day — Carpe Diem.”
Happily, Felice is now on the road to recovery, his creativity freshly inspired by his improving health.
“I feel amazing right now — I feel 10 years younger. Music is my life and my medicine”, he said.
Felice’s health scare has not been the only drama to hit the group in recent times, with fellow band member Nowell ‘The Deacon’ Haskins escaping a road smash unscathed.
“It seems the forces of darkness are always around”, he said.
This autumn sees the band embark on a sizable UK and European tour and after all the trials and tribulations of making the new album the band clearly can’t wait to get out and play the tracks to a live audience.
“I’m really looking forward to it”, Felice said. “It’s going to be amazing to come and sing these new songs as we’ve not had chance to do them live yet.
“We are now rehearsing the songs up here in our shack in the mountains and can’t wait to come over there.
“The UK is honestly one of my favourite places. I love the landscape and I love driving round the countryside. And people love the music and some of my favourite music comes from there, like The Beatles and Pink Floyd.”
Simi Stone, who adds sultry female vocals and virtuoso violin skills to The Duke and The King mix, agreed that the UK was a favourite destination to tour.
“I love touring the UK — I absolutely adore it”, she said. “I think it’s a combination of everything. London is an amazing old city and I think the audiences are particularly open and we feel we really connect with the audiences there. It is a real shared experience.
“The live versions of these new songsare like their own entities and we have really taken our time over rehearsing and getting it right. They are songs that really want to be played live.”
Haskins added: “I’m super-excited about getting to the UK. We’ve always been welcomed with open arms there which makes it so much easier.”
The Duke and The King’s debut album Nothing Gold Can Stay was one of 2009’s most acclaimed albums, with its heady mix of rootsy folk-rock and vintage soul earning comparisons with artists ranging from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Sly and The Family Stone.
They were quickly back into the studio to record the similarly well-received follow-up Long Live The Duke and The King.
“The songs were there and the energy was there to do it. It made sense to get it out there”, Stone said, explaining why they decided to quickly launch into album number two.
“We wanted a record that put the whole band on it. It all happened naturally. The recording process was amazing. Bobbie (Bobbie Bird Burke, ‘The King’) was doing his magic in the cabin and was really hard at work. He is like a little wizard.
“I’m really proud of the new album. With what happened to Simone everything on the album is taking on a new meaning.”
Haskins said: “I’m ecstatic about the record from a personal note. It has been so inspiring. You have a lot of music inside you and when you hear it come back so beautiful it’s incredible. It gives you a real high.
“Just to be on the radar and having people calling us good is just monumental for me.”
With such critical acclaim for their debut album it would be easy for The Duke and The King to feel the pressure for the follow-up, but with such a quick turnover between albums that wasn’t a problem.
Stone said: “I don’t think that was an issue. It did not seem like there was pressure. We did justice to all the ideas we had and put our best foot forward. It was a natural evolution.”
The sound of The Duke and The King is clearly influenced by the soul and funk musical icons of the sixties and seventies and critics are quick to point out the similarities to those greats.
Sam Cooke’s influence is particularly present on one of the highlights on the new album, Hudson River, and Stone said the band didn’t shy away from their influences.
She said: “I think we are all pretty much influenced by all the greats still. I listen to Zeppelin, Neil Young and artists like that.
“It’s pretty mindblowing to be spoken about in the same breath with people like that to tell the truth. We are just doing what we know how to do.
“To be put in the same category as our heroes is amazing. But it is no surprise as Simone and Bird are so talented — I have learned so much and I am in awe of them.”
Long Live The Duke and The King is out now. The band perform at the new Nottingham Glee Club on Sunday
Music news and local gig reviews, brought to you by Burton Mail. Find out about the latest music industry news and what is happening in the UK music scene today.

BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends will Feature The Duke and The King tommorrow

Clive Anderson and guests with an eclectic mix of conversation, music and comedy.
Clive is joined by the Man Booker Winner Howard Jacobson, who fresh from winning the prize with his novel The Finkler Question, delves into our own prudery in art for Channel 4's Genius of Art series on Sunday night.
BBC Radio 2 Breakfast and One Show host Chris Evans talks about being a 'Fruitcake' in the second part of his memoirs.
The man who has been described as the greatest stage actor of his generation, Simon Russell Beale, talks to Clive about the death trap he's in at the moment.
Tim Willis gossips to Jo Bunting about Fleet Street's legendary diarist, Nigel Dempster and the comedian Adam Hills Messes Around in the studio.
Amit Chaudhuri is another award winning novelist but has a parallel career as a classical singer of traditional Hindustani music blending raga, jazz, rock and blues. He performs with his band from his new album.
And New Yorker's The Duke & The King bring some rock, folk and vintage soul to the Loose Ends studio.
Producer: Cathie Mahoney.

The Duke and The King tour starts tommorrow!

The tour begins tommorrow with the show at Rough Trade East (which is free!)

to warm up we give you some "Summer Morning Rain from their last tour of the UK


Videos from the Waiting Room in Omaha

link to YOUTUBE

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tonight's Show Cancelled!!

The Felice Brothers show in Milwaukee this evening has been cancelled due to illness. Recent reports indicated that at least Ian Felice had been feeling ill recently.

Live Review From the Larimer Lounge in Denver

Live review: The Felice Brothers @ the Larimer Lounge
By allen klosowski | October 12th, 2010 | View Comments

Link to story on

The Felice Brothers kicked off their Sunday night set with a mix of accordion, guitar, and fiddle-infused sound, which really must be heard to be understood completely. It’s a mixture of instruments that in any other hands would be light and cheerful, but under the band’s direction comes off delightfully driving and dark. They are the sort of band that you can envision playing on the front porch, drinking moonshine, and celebrating a friend’s release from the nearest lockup. It all comes together for great effect, the sound is intimate and familiar, immediately approachable, and immensely enjoyable in a small venue like the Larimer Lounge.

Standout songs included rousing versions of “Murder By Mistletoe” and “Let Me Come Home” that had the crowd bouncing around and sloppily spilling their PBRs. If there was a drawback to the night, it appeared Ian Felice was suffering from a cold, and Greg Farley’s fiddle went haywire in the fourth song and ultimately never quite got the showing it deserved.

Pittsburgh City Paper Spotlights The Felice Brothers

The Band had Big Pink. The Felice Brothers had ... well, the Felice household, where the three future bandleaders grew up. Both homes sit in upstate New York. Coincidence? Of course. But forget the similar region of origin -- the real similarities lie in the feel of the music. 
Over the last few years, The Felice Brothers have proved themselves rightful heirs of The Band's musical tradition: roots rock that begs to be enjoyed with loud friends and clinking glasses always half-full. 

Brothers Ian, James and Simone Felice grew up poor in the Hudson River Valley, the sons of a carpenter. After playing at family cookouts for years, the brothers began busking in New York City subway stations. Adding longtime friend Christmas (who has since adopted the Felice surname), they recorded Through These Reins and Gone in 2006, and soon landed tours with like-minded acts such as Bright Eyes and Deer Tick. 

Though the band's been called roots-rock revivalists, Felice Brothers songs don't actively reach back for influence. Barroom sing-alongs never go out of style, and theirs sound timeless, resisting trends and any real genre boundaries. 

"Most people would probably disagree, but I actually feel better on the road than I do at home," says Christmas Felice, via phone from San Francisco. "I could be working, you know?" The band had just played San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival; the 11 a.m. set was "like part of a dream," says Christmas. "I was pretty much still asleep." Maybe, but the crowd was probably wide awake. 

Felice Brothers shows are notoriously riotous. And one would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting drunken chorus to shout than "I put some whiskey in my whiskey, I put some heartache in my heart. I put my boots on that ol' dance floor, I put three rounds, lord, in my .44." 

For the band, that party is nearly never-ending -- in October alone, there are only eight nights it won't play a show. At home, life isn't too different. Christmas lives with Ian and fiddle player Greg Farley; drummer Dave Turberville and James live nearby.

"I see all of them every day when I'm home, and every day on tour," says Christmas. "We're all each other's got. It's just one big, gigantic family."

But one Felice has gone missing from the band's musical family. Simone, the original drummer and sometime singer, split in 2009. He has since formed The Duke and the King, a band that takes the same no-bull folk-rock approach but leaves behind the grime and grit so present in The Felice Brothers' darker tunes; his music is more Crosby, Stills and Nash than The Band. Christmas says the split was almost a non-issue. "He just had to do his own thing; it wasn't that hard [to move forward]."

Just before Simone's departure, the band had created its finest work: 2009's Yonder Is the Clock. The Brothers always thrived on scrappy, lo-fi production (one album was recorded in a chicken coop), and Yonder maintained its dirty, rustic sound while sharpening the ever-present pangs of struggle, hardship and eventual redemption. The band's best qualities -- slow, beautiful, waltzing whiskey rock balanced with shit-kicking brawlers, all sung with Ian Felice's sandpaper yowl -- had come to a wonderful head. 

The next Felice release, however, is "really going to surprise some people," says Christmas. "It sounds totally different." 

Created over the last six months, the still-untitled album should reach fans by next year. ("We talk about the name of the record every day and fight about it," says Christmas.) For the most part, the band wrote the material in the studio instead of recording road-worn songs; the new tunes "basically came together right before our eyes," says Christmas.

"It's a totally different vibe, and not so much based on acoustic guitar. But I wouldn't call it 'rocking.'"

Christmas pauses.

"Well, sometimes it rocks. There you go. There's your headline."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Simone explains his time with The Felice Brothers

From Uncut magazine:

With my brothers, I sang a handful of leads and co-wrote the lyrics with Ian on almost every song, but the proudest part of me being in that band was putting it together as a traveling circus or a traveling tent revival floor show. Being in the Felice Brothers was like being part of a circus or the crew of a pirate ship, but in the end I had to jump ship. I needed to be in a place where I could do something that was just me, and I wouldn't have to be the keeper of the pirate log, navigator of a pirate ship.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Week's Big Events!

The Felice Brothers @ The Waiting Room, Omaha NE
The Felice Brothers @ Triple Rock Social, Minneapolis MN
The Felice Brothers @ Turner Hall, Milwaukee WI
The Felice Brothers @ Empty Bottle, Chicago IL
The Felice Brothers @ Magic Stick, Detroit MI
The Duke and The King @ Rough Trade East (Acoustic Set) free in store @ 1:30pm
The Felice Brothers @ Mountain Stage, Charleston, WV
The Duke and The King @ Cambridge UK

The Felice Brothers supported by Adam Haworth

Info @


Monday, October 11, 2010

Thank You Very Much you Beautiful Canadian People!! The Felice Brothers in Vancouver

In store performance for The Duke and the King via Folk Radio UK

The Duke & The King to do a pre-tour acoustic in-store set at Rough Trade East, 91 Brick Lane, London, on Saturday 16th October @ 1:30pm

Nice Review of The Felice Brothers at the State Room

Body language can be half the show.
A case in point is the Felice Brothers’ Saturday night set at The State Room in Salt Lake City.

There was the fully-immersed-in-rhythm swaying of brothers Ian and James Felice, who, at least physically, resemble siblings the way Laurel and Hardy do.

The waifish lead guitarist/singer Ian — making the most of his electrical wiriness — rocked back and forth, head cocked left, bending soulfully over the mike. The accordion — and keyboard — unleashing James, whose generous dimensions perfectly complement his stage presence, acted as the epicenter of an hour-and-a-half-long quake. His rich voice, like the sound of a tuba, an unlikely companion to Ian’s expressive rasp.

There was the Beastie Boyish gesturing of Greg Farley, whose primary role is fiddler, though he just as enthusiastically abuses a washboard, pounds a drum, unleashes a guitar lick, and (least successfully) hogs the mike for the duration of a song.

The bassist, Christmas Clapton, was the least animated, but, along with the drummer, Dave Turbeville, no less responsible for the roundly joyful physicality of the live performance.

The Felice Brothers capture the sensibility of the attentive vagabond — who knows busking as well as baptisms, who knows how to tie together black eyes and red eyes and love — in songs that can be plaintive and raw, precise and melancholy, and yet never despondent. And they do so as effectively by way of subdued melody as by raucous cacophony.

Their albums feel like they were made on a train, paused on a side track at the depot. A train, which has witnessed the stuff Americana is made of. Their live show, by extension, is that train barreling full-steam ahead.

On Saturday, the tracks were cut freestyle, linking blues, roots rock and folk, linking the Catskills, from where the brothers hail, with the Wasatch Front.

Drawing more on recent work from their, so far, rather modest output (their first album, “Iantown,” was released in 2005, and they have perhaps forty originals to cull from) The Felice Brothers show they have enough depth to keep a positive charge in the air.

Ian may be the de facto frontman, and his delivery was the most haunting and memorable – especially on songs such as “Wonderful Life” and “Marlborough Man,” where his voice wasn’t forced to compete with other instruments. But James provides a fine counterpoint with his baritone, which is well-suited to telling tall tales in the best sea shanty fashion. No wonder he’s the one treating the audience to “Whiskey in My Whiskey.”

Song after song, rough-cut characters abound, their fates unglamorous and bleak, and are dispensed with without ado. Old West saloon-style themes crop up. Lovers who are armed to the teeth meet for a date. Daily troubles are celebrated with impish irony through choruses such as “Ooo, happy days are here.”

The songwriting is taut; echoes of ‘60s and ‘70s icons inevitable. The lyrics may rarely say something new, but they reveal an idiom that seems genuine. And, devoid of cheap consolations, they express things that ring true.

The gig was not-so-neatly book-ended by styles not everyone could pull off: The opening song climaxing in a hip-hop chant, the closing one dissolving in a cryptic chorus about a “stormy Russian” who’s “a master of disguise.”

Considering the very palpable notion that the Felice Brothers love to share their music in the spirit of camaraderie, it is fitting to summarize the effect of the night with the refrain from their song “Take This Bread”: “I ain’t got a lot, but all I got / You’re welcome to it / ‘Cause I’m alright if you’re alright.”

Alright. And right on.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Felice Brothers get slammed by Glide Magazine

From their review of the Avett Brothers Live cd:

"Many bands are unable to harness that early energy into forming a cohesive career. The ones that do manage to grow hone that energy into a sound unique to themselves. The Clash during the 80’s come to mind.  The Sex Pistols on the other hand became a self-parody and flamed out. More recently the Felice Brothers struggle to find cohesion as a unit. The Low Anthem, on the other hand, seem to be on a fast track,  volunteers picking up trash at Newport two years ago to get in, this year playing the major stage alongside John Prine and Levon Helm with a sound unmistakably their own. This fall they will open for Emmy Lou Harris.

Simone & Sensational Simi interview with the Irish Independent

life and death and rock'n'roll

Saturday October 09 2010
Things had been going so well for Simone Felice. The second album by the New Yorker's band, The Duke & The King, was being mixed and readied for release; he was in the middle of an invigorating world tour, which had included astonishing shows in Dublin and Kilkenny in May and was now winding its way around America; and his wife was about to give birth to their baby. . .
But then Simone's world came crashing down: in early June, a visit to his doctor left with him with a startling diagnosis. His body had been fuelled by just an eighth of the blood and oxygen supply needed to survive.
To fix the problem, Simone, 34, would need to undergo invasive open heart surgery.
The operation was scheduled for the very next day, giving him barely enough time to say a possible last goodbye to his friends and family -- and bandmates -- before placing his life in the hands of a cardiac surgeon.
There were complications -- and it was touch and go for a while . . . but Simone eventually pulled through. And lived to see the birth of his baby daughter, Pearl, who is now two months old.
Having made a miraculous recovery, Simone is now talking to me down a phone line from a cabin in Bearsville in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, where he is holed up with the rest of the band -- Bobbie 'Bird' Burke, The Sensational Simi Stone, and Nowell 'The Deacon' Haskins -- rehearsing for the new tour that takes in Dublin, Kilkenny, Sligo and Belfast later this month.
Simone, though, finds his victorious chess match with The Grim Reaper too raw to recount so soon after the event.
"It's really emotional for me to talk about that," says Simone. "Simi was right there and went to the hospital with my family. She has a better outlook than I do. Because I was really just all doped up, and almost died. So, Simi can probably give you a better answer to that question."
Simi is the band's extraordinarily charismatic and glamorous fiddle player and backing vocalist.
"It was really very scary but it all happened very fast," she recalls. "We were actually booked to play a show. Then Simone said: 'I have to go into the hospital tomorrow to have heart surgery or I'm gonna die'.
"So as you can imagine, we were completely taken aback. It was really emotional.
"We had just finished mixing the record. His baby was about to be born. It was pretty intense up here.
"So we went through this thing where we thought, 'Wow, we might not see him again'. He came around to the cabin to say goodbye to us. It was pretty heavy. But we were all together and we were looking after his sister. Everyone was really strong.
'At one point, his sister called me and was hysterically crying up on the mountain. We had to come up and comfort her because he had started bleeding again in the recovery room and they thought . . .
"That was the moment when I thought, 'Wow, we might not see our brother again'.
"But he made it! And I think we were all so thankful to see him still on the planet. It made what we were doing so much more important. We were so happy to be alive and to see him again. It's been a really emotional summer."
And the icing on the cake is that Simone lived to see his baby being born. "Yes, little Pearl is with us now. She is two months old and she's beautiful. It's a miracle."
The four friends in the Duke & The King say they have been strengthened as individuals and as a band in the wake of Simone's situation. When I called, they had been singing in a circle in their cabin where they recorded their new album Long Live The Duke & The King (the follow-up to their eye-catching debut Nothing Gold Can Stay) and where Simone recorded his new solo retrospective, Live From A Lonely Place just days after his surgery.
The Duke & The King have drawn comparisons with everyone from James Taylor to James Brown and the Neville Brothers (Aaron, not Gary). They've got a psychedelic soul-country-folk-rock-gospel thing going on.
After building a fanbase with a string of albums full of rootsy Americana, recorded with his siblings Ian and James as The Felice Brothers, Simone left to form The Duke & The King in 2009 as a vehicle for his own songs. An appearance on Jools Holland's BBC TV show last year raised their profile on this side of the Atlantic, as did rave reviews in UK music bible Uncut.
Bobbie 'Bird' Burke says of the new album: "Hopefully the vibration of all the love that was poured into it will make its way out to the people and they'll be inspired to do the same."
The band are looking forward to touching down on Irish soil again after the life-affirming triumph of their Kilkenny gigs during the summer. "The best compliment I got was from a woman who said she felt like she was on acid!" laughs Simi.
Bobbie agrees: "Kilkenny is such a beautiful place: the churches, the countryside is breathtaking. We went to this one pub where the food was incredible.
"They had the best brown bread. I basically wanted to marry this old woman who owned and ran the place!"
Long Live The Duke & The King and Simone Felice's Live From A Lonely Place are out now. The Duke & The King play the Academy 2, Dublin, October 19; The Set Theatre, Kilkenny, 21; Ballincar Cottages, Co Sligo, 22; Empire, Belfast, 24.

The Felice Brothers/Conor Felice review from Santa Barbara Independent

Bright Eyes Frontman Peppers His Set with Oldies, New Tunes

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday’s extra-special, really sold out Conor Oberst show did a lot more than attract a throng of Bright Eyes lovers to SOhO; it worked to re-seal the deal for many casual Oberst appreciators (this reviewer included). Don’t get me wrong, back in 2002 I definitely had my Bright Eyes phase. Denying the beauty of a record like Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground is just foolish, really. But since then my love affair with Oberst’s songbook has waxed and waned. Monsters of Folk got a thumbs up, Mystic Valley Band was hit or miss, and that Digital Ash in a Digital Urn stuff, no thanks.

Coner Oberst at Soho
But, like that other half-indie, half-mainstream workaholic, Ryan Adams, Oberst does not disappoint in the live arena, and his lengthy Thursday night setlist exemplified just that. First up, though, were New York twang lovers The Felice Brothers, who delivered a set so rollicking it could have easily closed out the night. Highlights included the huge sounding “White Limo” and the foot stomping “Run Chicken Run,” both of which benefitted from a furious mix of accordion, violin, fiddle, and guitars, and made me wonder why those Mumford & Sons are getting so much credit for doing a lesser job of what these Brothers have perfected.

Later though, with the Felice Brothers at his side, it was Oberst who took the stage and stole the show. It kicked off with the fiddle-filled Bright Eyes anthem “Four Winds,” then spiraled through a series of solo cuts (“Moab,” “Lenders in the Temple,” “Cape Canaveral”) and BE classics (“Spring Cleaning,” “Well Whiskey”). And, like my own record collection had already told me, the highlights came the further back Oberst went. The aching lyrics and country waltz of “Laura Laurent” proved to be one of the set’s earliest high points, followed later by “We Are Nowhere and It’s Now” and the quintessentially lyric-driven “Easy/Lucky/Free.” Elsewhere, the Felice Brothers tied things together with just enough boyish enthusiasm to offset Oberst’s darkest moments (“Train Under Water”) and accentuate his more buoyant tracks (“10 Women”).

All in all, it made for a match in folkie heaven, and a set that sounded so good it forced you to forget all those little Oberst disappointments that happened along the way.

Simone Felice from The First Unitarian Church

Simone Felice
First Unitarian Church Chapel
Philadelphia, PA
October 9, 2010

In the side chapel, backlit only by six candles...approximately an 80 minute set.

If You Ever Get Famous
Ol' 55
Don't Wake The Scarecrow
One More American Song
Summer Morning Rain
The New York Times
The Morning I Get To Hell
All When We Were Young
Radio Song
A few lines from "Nowhere New York" by request
The Devil Is Real
Union Street

Whatever happened to this old bastard?

it got sold on craigslist, wonder if its out there still?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Wonderful Life" making it's way back on setlists

Here is one from the Pioneertown show.

This tour represents the first time since the early summer of 2008 since this song made it's way consistently onto setlists.

Pappy & Harriet's Palace
Pioneertown, CA
Sept. 28, 2010

Murder by mistletoe
Wonderful life
White limo
The royal hawaiian hotel
Let me come home
Saint stephen's end
Step dad >
Love me tenderly
Run chicken run
Take this bread

Opened for conor oberst

From the message board

Monday, October 4, 2010

Take This Bread from Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival


Some really good videos from the Sante Fe Brewery

Link to several videos from this show

The Making Of Long Live The Duke and The King Part 1&2

The Duke & The King - Part 1 from Silva Screen on Vimeo.

The Duke & The King - Part 2 from Silva Screen on Vimeo.


And as always check out THEIR OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Long May You Run: Simone Felice live From Woodstock

thanks to Mercy!!!

Byrdcliffe Theater
Woodstock, NY
October 2, 2010
Simone Felice and Special Guests

If You Ever Get Famous
Ol' 55
Don't Wake the Scarecrow (with the sensational Simi Stone)
New Song (with Simi & Jenny Blue) "Down by the Traffic Circle"? "Great Big Circle"? "Buzzards Circle"?
Your Belly in My Arms
New York Times
All When We Were Young (with Simi)
The Morning That I Get to Hell (with Simi)
Summer Morning Rain
New Song "One Play on the Radio"?
Long May You Run (with Matt on the tuba(!) & Simi on vocals)
One More American Song
Radio Song (with Simi)
Union Street (with Simi)
Helpless (with Simi, Jenny Blue, & Matt on tuba)
Shaky (by request) (with Simi)
Gloria (with Simi)

Two new songs were performed tonight!
Byrdcliffe is an artists' colony in Woodstock (Bob Dylan lived there, once upon a time). The setup was very nice, with a single, dim spotlight on the stage, with a pair of stools, and a pair of mics set up. Simone's stool was wobbly, but he announced that, instead of getting another, he had gotten used to it. Candles were set up around the stage, and many were wearing jackets, in the unheated theater. suggested bringing a bottle of wine, and it seemed like most of the audience took the suggestion. Simone relied on some to fill his cup occasionally.
Simi played both traditional and electric blue violin.
The new song, "Great Big Circle" (?), sounded like it had some chord changes reminiscent of "The Morning That I Get to Hell."
"Your Belly in My Arms" had some variations, such as "through these towns and gone," then "through these gates and gone."
During New York Times, during the line about the pervert from Jersey, Simone made a face that reminded Ruby Mae of Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
He dedicated "Summer Morning Rain" to his daughter, Pearl Felice, who was born at home, during a thunderstorm.
(The woman seated next to us was holding Pearl's baby blanket.)
Before playing the new song, "One Play on the Radio" (?), Simone said that when he was banging on the guitar, he broke the mic inside, and asked if we could still hear it. We could.
Simone introduced us to the caretaker of the Byrdcliffe Theater, Matt, who played the tuba on "Long May You Run," and during the encore, "Helpless." It was an interesting sound, that added a lot, and totally worked. Unique and beautiful.
After "Helpless," which featured all four of the performers from the night, the crowd demanded more, and someone suggested "Shaky." He asked if we knew of that song through the Internet. (Actually, Ruby Mae and I (as we told Simone afterwards) know of it from a free show at a coffeehouse that the Felice Brothers played in July, 2007.) He said that "Gloria" is the first song on the new Duke and the King album, and the last song of the night, and that it was written about the days when he and his brothers would drive around in their short bus and busk on the street, and in the subway, before they sold it on Craig's List. When he sang the self-referential first line about the drummer, many in the audience chuckled.

Overall, an awesome hometown show, with really special special guests, that really added to the gig. Seeing Simi have more space to stretch out, outside of The Duke and The King, was an extra special treat for us. Unfortunately, we may have to wait until after Long Live the Duke and the King comes out in the U.S. to see the whole band again, probably in February.

Greatest Show on Earth! Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival



greatest show on earth
carrier pigeons
loves me tenderly
royal hawaiian hotel
let me come home!
run chicken run
st. stephen's end
take this bread
her eyes dart round

conor's saturday afternoon set was about the same as the other two:

laura's song
four winds
well whiskey
no one would riot for less
train underwater
spring cleaning
***wonderful life*** (pretty cool)
easy lucky free
i know you
method acting
poison oak

Pics are Here at this Blog

Alan Taylor interviews Simone Felice from No Depression

Maverick (UK)’s Alan J Taylor had cause to take a little road trip with Simone Felice (of Duke & The King) during his recent solo musical and literary foray to the UK.

Simone (pronounced Simone) Felice was busy tucking into a hearty home made potato and vegetable soup when I arrived in Leeds to pick him up for the trip across to Liverpool. Nursing a ‘little cold’ he’d picked up on the earlier trip to Edinburgh, the vehicle was soon permeated with the smell of eucalyptus and menthol ‘snake oil’ as he attempted to open up his lungs a little. The solo tour had so far been a huge success, with sell outs at every venue and a fantastic reception from crowds, so pleased to see him on stage again after his recent health scare.

For those not entirely familiar with the story, it was almost two months to the day since he had been on the operating table having open heart surgery for a dangerously narrowed and incompetent aortic valve (the main vessel exiting the heart.) Pausing briefly to take a spoonful of ‘special honey’ Felice elaborated, “Yeah, the surgeon said that I was surviving on around one eighth of normal flow and that I probably would have either died on stage or on a long haul flight, had the problem not been corrected.” He continued, “when I woke up, I was so pleased to hear my family and friends chatting in the emergency room, I said to the nurse ‘am I alive?, its so great that everyone could come along’. She said, ‘Mr Felice it’s three am, there’s no one here, why don’t you take a another little shot of your morphine’.” He laughed, but winced slightly at the memory, taking a deep breath, two fingers resting lightly on his breast-bone that was so recently split apart. “The surgeon said I should take lots of walks in the fresh air and do lots of deep breathing.” With that we detoured off the M62 and took a short walk over the Lancashire moor land, wind mills turning gently in the distance and a curlew occasionally breaking the silence.

A lot had happened in his life during the last eighteen months, he’d left the ascending and successful Felice Brothers’, to front his own band the ‘Duke and The King’, done two hugely successful tours of the UK, got married to his long term partner Jessie, had a daughter called Pearl, narrowly escaped an early death and was now in the middle of a solo UK tour. It was clear as we walked that he savoured every breath, “I am so grateful” he said, “to everyone who sent all the messages and positive energy to me to help me through, I owe them all so much.”

Watching the trails of the aeroplanes and recalling the silence of the volcanic ash clouds the conversation suddenly turned to 09/11, a subject that appears in some of his writing, “It was a shock when it happened, but it certainly wasn’t a surprise, I guess we never really learned the lessons of Vietnam.” I was intrigued, “Vietnam” I repeated. “Yes,” Felice continued, “I’ve always personally been fascinated by the events, I was born the year after the war ended but I can still recall seeing those ‘Vietnam Vets’ wandering around the town where I lived, I read a lot and the music of the time said so much about it, but we never learned the lessons” He paused briefly and stared hard at the aeroplane trails in the sky. “Modern life has become so frantic, we’re all so busy, but sometimes I’m not sure that anyone realises that it all just hangs by a thread. The more I read about the American Civil war and Vietnam and our current conflicts, the more I wonder whether man was born into conflict, sometimes it seems almost primeval . . . inevitable”.

I reminded him that he had a gig that evening and time was moving on, it was time to head back for the second leg of the journey where Felice, ever eager to please his loyal followers was playing a ‘house gig’ to 35 people in a flat in Liverpool. The night turned out to be a huge success with the flat crammed to the rafters and people listening out on the street through the open windows. Leaning out of the window precariously, he invited them in for the last two numbers, they were more than delirious to help out with the singing on Felice’s version of Neil Young’s Helpless, complete with a verse of Amazing Grace.

The trip down to London for the next gig at the Old Church in St Pancras gave Felice some time to muse and create. Clearly preoccupied, he seems to be constructing songs as we drove, occasionally breaking out into a drum beat or random spontaneous singing, every now and then taking in that deep breath as if reminding himself that he’s still on this earth. He told me a little about his previous brush with mortality when as a child, at the age of 12 years, he suffered a brain aneurysm and was apparently pronounced clinically dead following brain surgery in hospital. After miraculously surviving, he spent several months in intensive care relearning basic motor skills, including reading and writing.

So, savouring his third stab at life and with a new solo album LIVE FROM A LONELY PLACE already in the bag, a new D&TK album, LONG LIVE DUKE AND THE KING due for imminent release, plus a new novel about to be launched, I suggested he appeared to have been working pretty hard. He replied, “Yeah, I guess having time after the operation to stop and think during my recuperation helped the creative process. As I said, the doctors said I should take regular walks and do lots of breathing exercises and generally look after myself, but it wasn’t long before I was singing again . . . what better way to breath?” He laughed and continued “A lot of the songs had already been recorded prior to the surgery, but I managed to write some more stuff and we recorded the songs at home in the barn. The experience I went through seems to focus you, plus I felt as if my mind was working better, as if it had regained it’s blood supply (from a medical perspective it truly had! . . . the aorta supplies feeder arteries to the brain) which is fantastic for a poet or a songwriter!” He continued, “We also had time to work together as a band, on our harmonies and it has been so rewarding . . . Simi, Chicken and Noel have such fantastic voices I just feel blessed to be in their company and I think you will see when the new album is released what work we have put in, the album has much more of a soul feel as you will see”

With Danny Goldberg (Gold Village Entertainment) as his new manager, Felice explained that the day to day hassles of the music business were steadily being ironed out, leaving him free to create, “Danny manages Steve Earle amongst others, which means he pretty much knows the music business inside out, I trust him and his team have been brilliant so far” he said. He went on, “I learnt from some tough times on the street as a kid to have a keen eye for a shyster and there are plenty of them in this business, I only work with people I know I can trust.”

As we approached London, Felice’s focus became palpable, “I really need to make the show in the ‘Old Church’ tonight a great experience for everyone,” he said, “apparently it is one of the oldest sites of Christian worship.” “I’m gonna get me a lap steel player and maybe a drummer it should be pretty exiting.” With that he went into a series of phone calls to agents, keen to organise his interviews with the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph prior to the show. It wasn’t long before the eucalyptus oil came out again and we were in a fog of menthol and deep breaths.
Link to story

That evening, running on pure adrenaline (plus a spot of honey and herbal tea) Felice was indeed true to his word, he quickly whipped up his newly acquired drummer and lap steel player (they had previously played a gig together at the Green Man Festival) into shape in a whirl wind rehearsal, before putting on a majestic performance in the most beautiful of churches. The place was packed and sat on an ancient carved wooden chair to a candle lit backdrop, Felice put on a performance to remember using a couple of irritating sound hitches to illustrate his professionalism and performance skills, including a brief scene from ‘The Exorcist’ to a delighted crowd. A short recital from his forthcoming book Black Jesus (‘To Hell With’ Publishing) had the audience literally spell bound, particularly when the church bell chimed a exactly the right moment in the story! . . . you just couldn’t have planned it better. With characteristic wide eyed delivery and the occasional between song manner of a revivalist preacher, Felice stormed through a one and a half hour set which included many of the Felice Brother’s staples, the Duke and the King favourites and some of the songs from the new album. Four encores later, it was clear that he could have gone on all night. With a call to Mat Boulter the lap steel player (also of Deer Park) to “learn one play one” they finished with a cover of Still’s & Young’s Long May You Run . . . the crowd were breathless as they left the church, happy in the knowledge that they had witnessed a truly religious experience AJT.