Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ian Felice does Harry Nilsson


Nod for Simone Felice in Album of the Year list

#2 on albums of the year list: Simone Felice: Live from a Lonely Place

Top Ten CDs of 2010


I’ve finally settled on my list of the top ten CDs of 2010. Probably unlike anyone else’s list, I give it to you here. The order of the CDs from one to ten was the toughest part, and I can’t say that I won’t want to switch some of them around immediately after posting them, but this is the way it looks to me at this moment in time.

1. Salter Cane – Sorrow
This release is fairly recent, but the power of the songs, the beauty of the performances, and overall sense and feel of the entire work is just overwhelming. Sorrow is released as having a Creative Commons License, which is to say, if you have a copy, you are free to make other copies and Salter Cane encourages you to give them away. What a wonderful concept, being about the music rather than corporate greed.

2. Simone Felice – Live From a Lonely Place
This CD is in very limited release, and that’s a shame. Felice is a one half of the duo, Duke and King, and a former member of the Felice Brothers group. Recorded at home (in the barn) just a few weeks after his open heart surgery, this retrospective collection includes songs from the earliest Felice Brother days, Duke & King favorites, and the traditional Celtic waltz Wild Mountain Thyme arranged by Simone. Naked as the day you were born, these stark recordings cut to the bone, revealing the essential brilliance of the songwriting, the poetry, like a ghost in the attic, like a wind at the door. Available exclusively at simonefelice.com as well as all live Simone Felice appearances.

3. The Vatican Cellar – The Same Crooked Worm
Just released this month, The Same Crooked Worm is a series of cathartic, cut to the bone songs dealing with loss, hope, and redemption. Essentially a duo, The Vatican Cellar uses acoustic instruments, beautiful solo and harmony vocals, and deep, brooding lyrics to convey what they wish to share, musically, with the audience. Bears repeat listenings, which given the beauty of the music, will not be a difficult assignment.

4. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Hawk
Like their previous two collaborations, this one is a gem. Maybe nobody in the music world has produced as much great, must-have music in the span of three CDs as this duo has done. Every song is a keeper, but that’s true of their other work together as well. Hawk isn’t a new CD so much as it is a continuation of what began with the inception of their musical alliance begun in 2006 with Ballad of the Broken Seas, and continued with 2008′s Sunday at Devil Dirt.

5. Thea Gilmore – Murphy’s Heart
Any year that Thea Gilmore releases a new CD, it’s going to be on my best of list. She does not record anything average, ordinary, or mediocre. Everything she puts out is a masterwork, and Murphy’s Heart is no exception. While not as extraordinary as 2002′s Songs from the Gutter, nor as breathtaking as 2008′s Liejacker, this is a great work from a great, and too much under appreciated artist.

6. Sharon Krauss – The Woody Nightshade
A dark, ethereal, brooding, but revealing CD about love missed, love found and lost, and love never achieved. Largely piano based, acoustic, with breathy but splendid vocals, The Woody Nightshade gives us a glimpse into a world we seldom find ourselves looking. As the name implies, these songs are filled with beauty and danger all at the same time, taking its name from the beautiful but poisonous plant also known as deadly nightshade or belladonna.

7. Black Dub – Black Dub
With the production values of band member, Daniel Lanois, producer of such acts as U2, The Neville Brothers, and Bob Dylan, this CD would be hard pressed to miss. Throw in the wonderful pyrotechnic vocals of Trixie Whitley and you have winner without even trying. A couple of songs are a little too hip-hop for my taste, but once the CD gets cooking, Trixie Whitley steps right up and lays claim to being one of the best female vocalists working in popular music today. Once she grabs you by the throat, there’s no letting go.

8. Richard Thompson – Dream Attic
After having put out a couple of mostly acoustic CDs in a row, Richard Thompson cuts loose on this one, laying claim to being one of the best guitar players in popular music today. Actually, one of the best ever if the truth is known. With his usual sardonic wit and wisdom, he takes us, lyrically, through a tour de force of great music, and throughout it all, his ringing, baroque-style, rock and roll guitar weaves a web from which the listener can’t escape. And doesn’t really want to.

9. Joanne Shaw Taylor – Diamonds in the Dirt
Taylor proves herself to be one of the best blues guitar slingers out there with the release of this CD. Not one of the best female player, but one of the best players, period. Her earlier CD, White Sugar, allowed her to lay claim to all the accolades that came her way. This follow up cements it all in place. This girl isn’t going away. Called “the love child of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dusty Springfield,” she does them both proud, even if the statement was made in hyperbole. She sings, she plays, she rocks.

10. Doghouse Roses – This Broken Key
One of my favorite groups of the last couple of years returns with a new CD just in time to make the list. Paul Tasker and Iona Macdonald started playing music together in 2005. Tasker’s intricate guitar and Macdonald’s golden voice caught my ear with their initial release, 2009′s How’ve you Been (all this time)?, and I couldn’t wait to hear more. Broken Key is the perfect follow up. It trades on the strengths of what they began on the earlier release, and plows ahead into new territory that should keep them vital and interesting for the long haul.

There’s lots of other good releases out there this year, but these are the ones that have stood the test of time and repeat plays on my iPod and elsewhere. If you’re interested in some really great music, look up these releases. Cuts can be heard all over the internet, and most of the CDs are available from a myriad of sites selling CDs and downloads. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Live Gig of the Year: The Duke and The King

Shine On
The Duke And The King
The Fleece, Bristol
Friday October 29th 2010

Review: Lee Edwards
Photography: Martin Tompkins
Video: Alex Crowton


A gentle drizzle washes the streets of Bristol as Alex and I make our way from Temple Mead Station to the newly re-vamped Fleece. We are heading out ahead of photographer Martin to catch the The Duke And The King for their pre-gig soundcheck and sort ourselves out for the interview which we are videoing. Later we’ll be joined by Martin and a capacity audience to see the band play. They were last in Bristol in the Spring at the Thekla where they gave a devastating performance and we proclaimed it was ElectricGhost’s gig of the year. Since then they have produced an amazing second album Long Live the Duke And The King, Simone has has emergency heart treatment and came over a few months ago for a solo tour.

Arriving at the Fleece we are greeted by the band’s tour tour manager Joey. It is the usual bustle of activity that is soundchecking. Bobbie and Simi appear and we get a sense that all is not well in the Duke and King camp. The bereavement mentioned online that cancelled the Glasgow gig turns out to be Bobbie’s dad, also Simone is not well and in pain, but the show will go on. There is a somber mood in the venue. Nowell appears and seems like the other to be friendly but affected by the recent events. Finally Simone appears and he look frankly like he should be in bed and not about to perform in front of a capacity audience. Whilst they work on their soundcheck Alex and I decamp to the dressing room to set up the camera and prepare for the interview. After the interview which will appear on our blogsite (http://www.electricghostmusic.com) and Journal soon we head of to meet up with photographer Martin for a break and food.

Back at the venue the support act is on and the place is full to capacity. It seem an eternity before the band appear. Without the usual jovial banter they kick off with If You Ever Get Famous, Don’t Wake The Scarecrow and The Morning I Get To Hell. Its good to see them live again but they they seem more restrained than usual and pacing themselves, the stage lighting is dark and they seem to merge into the shadows. Simi, who added electric guitar to her instruments, takes the lead vocals on the highly infectious No Easy Way Out and this seems to to be a turning point this is followed by another favourite from the new album Shaky and the audience are engaged and singing along with the band.

Following a moving reading of Suzanne from Bobbie, Nowell is front of stage for Hudson River with a vocal power than never ceases to knock me off my feet. He could easily dominate any lesser band, and it is a testament to the phenomenal musical abilities of each member that they all shine equally and come together with heavenly spine tingling four-part harmonies. Talking of shining the live version of the anthemic slow-burning Shine On You, a favourite of mine from the new album has a new intensity tonight with an acid guitar solo from Bobbie that is incendiary.

Another favourite follows, Gloria, and the emotional intensity is almost unbearable through I’ve One More American Song (Simone solo with just acoustic guitar and harmonica), Have You Seen It and Radio Song. The set finishes with a magical and heartfelt cover of Neil Young’s classic Helpless with the whole audience acting like a choir, many people including the band are close to tears at this point.

Howls of ‘more‘ and foot stamping that rocks the venue eventually brings them back for devastatingly dark and ominous version of Don’t Take That Place Tonight followed by a heartbreaking beautiful version of Union Street; and then they’re gone. This has been an extraordinary evening by any standards with a band battered and bruises by bereavement and illness giving a heroic and transcendental performance. There is no question that The Duke And The King are the most important and best live band on the planet at the moment. They’ve also just become ElectricGhost’s live gig of the year to be shared with their performance earlier this year at The Thekla in Bristol.

Tracklist for Radio Woodstock's 30th anniversary CD

Live in Studio performances featuring The Felice Brothers and The Duke and the King

Disc 1:
Track # Artist Title Preview
1 The Allman Brothers Band Midnight Rider
2 Rick Danko Blue River
3 One eskimO Kandi
4 Wilco Handshake Drugs
5 The Felice Brothers Roll On Arte
6 Railroad Earth Hard Livin'
7 Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings 100 Days, 100 Nights
8 Willie Nile Cell Phones Ringing
9 Gov't Mule Woodstock
10 Gomez Revolutionary Kind
11 Big Head Todd & The Monsters Bittersweet
12 Guster Barrel of a Gun
13 Sonia Dada Old Bones
14 Martin Sexton Diner
15 Robert Randolph & The Family Band I Need More Love
16 The English Beat Save It For Later

Disc 2:
Track # Artist Title Preview
1 Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Fire!
2 North Mississippi Allstars Moonshine
3 The Hold Steady Sequestered In Memphis
4 Ben Folds Late
5 The Duke & The King If You Ever Get Famous
6 Bell X1 The Great Defector
7 Ray LaMontagne Trouble
8 Jackie Greene Farewell, So Long, Goodbye
9 G. Love & Special Sauce Baby's Got Sauce
10 Rusted Root Ecstasy
11 Citizen Cope Brother Lee
12 Ollabelle Riverside
13 Harper Simon Shooting Star
14 Brett Dennen Make You Crazy
15 Ozomatli Saturday Night
16 Natalie Merchant (ft. Susan McKeown and Katell Keineg) Will The Circle Be Unbroken


From Loose Music:the Duke and the King Honored

Long Live The Duke & The King has been placed at No. 32 in Uncut’s 50 Best Albums of 2010 list and  No.4 in their 20 Best Americana Albums of the year! The new issue of the magazine also features single, Shaky on the free CD.

“If the Felice Brothers initially seemed to be Woodstock-dwelling Band acolytes, subsequent releases have revealed a much wider-ranging bunch. Hence Simone Felice’s second album with The D&K, which evolved their sound from Laurel Canyon reveries to this invocation of cosmic country soul.”

However, if the magazine’s editor, Allan Jones, had full say on the list, it would have been much nearer the top of the list. He mentions the album as being in his personal top 10!

Not heard it? Really?? Well it is, of course, in the Loose shop, here. Also on beautiful vinyl, with free album download.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Live Review: Pittsburgh

If you’re a twenty-something and grew up anything like I did, then you can sympathize with me in my musical misfortune. Central Pennsylvania isn’t exactly the most sought-after venue for concerts of any type aside from Contemporary Christian. And without the Internet until my college years, the only music of the day at the end of my fingertips amounted to “Magic Stick” by Lil’ Kim and 50 Cent or “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” by Kenny Chesney. None of which were exactly what I was looking for. You see, the music that I wanted more of was the music like “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells that my Mom would gasp at when she heard on the radio. She was so excited because she (like me) couldn’t relate to anything else that was playing on the radio. So maybe I’m an old soul. I continued to listen to more Americana like Peter, Paul and Mary and Woody Guthrie. But after all of the time and emotion that I invested into others like Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Burl Ives, Bob Dylan, The Band and Malvina Reynolds, I began to miss out on being an actual part of that music.
Finally, more than just the radio was at my fingertips, now the Internet was available and that meant I could find other people my own age who were making music not quite like Dylan and Guthrie but in response to and influenced by them. Hallelujah! I’m not the only old soul! I’m not a total stiff! There are other people who don’t like rap and country back to back on the radio! This throw-back movement of barn-burning, floor-stomping and skilled string-playing music is exactly what I needed. It gave me a chance to participate at least a little in this day in age with the music that I loved as a child but never had the chance to do more than sing along to in the car with my Mom. It’s bands like The Felice Brothers that are my Dylan, my Band, my Joplin.

After reading about all of the amazing performances that the Brothers have put on (i.e., the acoustic show at Newport in the rain), I was ready for a night of letting the band take me away to their musical wonderland. A band can only take their audience to that special live, musical place if they are fully engaged. Aside from James Felice, I wasn’t sure if the rest of the band could even see us standing right in front of them. James, who is as burly as a bear but as graceful as a swan, was fully engaged with the audience, or maybe it just seemed like it because he was the only one making an effort.

Everyone has their off nights and hopefully this was theirs. It won’t keep me from checking out another one of their shows because even though they had no audience chemistry, they still displayed that they are talented beyond their years and their voices are just spot on with their studio recording. That’s respectable. I didn’t love their show but I’m thankful for having music today that is reminiscent of the greats, has heart and soul and that connects me in some way to the story of the music. Thanks, Felice Brothers because you’ve got all of that going on.

The Felice Brothers from Castaways in Ithaca NY

"Terrible Dream" is a new song that may appear on the upcoming album in 2011.


Fire On The Mountain
Frankie's Gun
Dance Hall
White Limosine
Got What I Need
River Jordan/Fuck The News>
Chicken Wire
Ballad of Lou
Farley's Song
Terrible Dream (Ian solo)
Take This Bread
Let Me Come Home
Greatest Show On Earth
Run Chicken Run

St. Steven
Helen Fry
Two Hands (with everyone on stage).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cornell Sun Review

TOPICS: live music, Concert Review, concert
NOVEMBER 22, 2010
There’s a danger to judging a band by only its records. It seems silly to say, but sometimes songs are a lot more about the scene and mood then the chords and notes. That being said, experiencing a band first hand can make you appreciate an otherwise maligned genre. Take hardcore punk for instance: Recordings can be grating and are often p oorly produced. But when you go to the shows, many bands’ charisma can be surprising and crowds’ willingness to sacrifice life and limb (seriously) for the music they love becomes infectious. By the end of the night, you often find yourself throwing elbows and shouting along to supremely vulgar breakdowns, swept away by the immediacy of the experience.

I experienced something similar Saturday night. The Felice Brothers, on record, were not the most impressive group. They had some good country rock songs and did a pretty good job at evoking comparisons to The Band or Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, but they weren’t something I’d find myself listening to on a consistent basis. They also didn’t help themselves with their timing: slated to go on at nine, they didn’t take the stage until nearly an hour later. The deck, it seems, was stacked against them.

Link to story

Their eyes were bleary, and they were hardly well-coifed, but damn could these guys play. Launching with aplomb into songs called “Whiskey in My Whiskey,” “Frankie’s Gun” and “Where’d You Get The Liquor?” these guys were your ideal country bar band. Ian Felice’s guitar-playing, while skillful, felt drunkenly shambolic; the rhythm section kept things simple, but propelled things at just the right speed and volume to make the full band ballads come to cathartic climaxes; James Felice’s accordion fleshed songs out beautifully, making the five-piece sound bigger than they were; and multi-instrumentalist Farley was exceptional, playing trumpet, fiddle and hype-man, keeping the crowd (ever the willing group of participants) involved with sing-alongs and hand-claps. And, of course, one can’t omit his skills on the washboard. Farley played it with reckless abandon, tossing it across stage and scraping joyously along to the more rollicking tunes.

Comparisons to The Band are particularly apt; like the folk rock legends, The Felice Brothers’ songs are mostly about people (drunks) and places (bars), with new characters being introduced in each song and details fleshed out in a very casual, conversational tone. The Brothers also switch lead vocal and instrumental duties quite freely. Everyone in the band, save the drummer, got opportunities to sing lead, giving the unit a very democratic, laid back appearance, as if their performance was just something they were doing for kicks and the crowd was an accident.

The Brothers’ charisma did not stem from any sort of Ezra Koenig-esque wit (they only spoke to the audience to thank them for their attendance and to emphasize how much better ending their tour in Ithaca was than ending it in Columbus, Ohio) or drunken joking; they just seemed to be really, really into their music, rocking back and forth to every song and closing their eyes during their solos. Ian Felice’s guitar playing, also, was fantastic. Since he doesn’t use a pick, he doesn’t pluck strings with equal pressure, resulting in his guitar sounding as if it’s being hit rather than strummed. While his playing sounded somewhat sloppy, it also sounded brilliant. Felice played everything very tastefully, rarely resorting to fretboard-wanking and thereby staying perfectly within the slightly buzzed bar band aesthetic the band had created for themselves.

But what made the night for me, personally, was the exuberant crowd. Almost everyone constantly had a drink in hand and everybody was entirely enveloped in the music, singing along to every song and dancing (which is a nice thing to see in a time where the hipster default of “standing still and nodding” is growing more popular every day). The highlight of the night came during the final song of the night, when the crowd rushed the stage to dance and sing with the band, who played the song perfectly nonchalantly, as if the stage had been the right place for the audience to be all along. And therein lies the allure of the Felice Brothers as a live band: They’re crowd pleasers, and the instant familiarity of the songs brings young and old, hipsters and good ole country boys together to drink, dance and, in general, have a kick-ass show.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Still working on new site and forum

We have run into a snag with the forum and the domain that has gone on since Thursday.
It will hopefully be fixed as soon as possible.

I will pick up the pace on reporting news by next week, this week is a busy work week
At my paying job, and the Take This Bread food truck will be in Boston Wednesday night and Thanksgiving morning.

I know there has been exciting news of late including "Billie Jean" back in the encore, and I will be back in full force soon with more news, the new forum URL, the new news site and more.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Forum URL change!!!!


Has become

This may take a day or two before the changeover is complete

Right now the forum can be accessed @ atforum.frankiesgun.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nightmares for a Week talk in James Felice playing on their record

Bill: It was very humbling and makes us feel very fortunate. This is huge for us. Big ups to Walter. Thanks a lot. In addition to Walter we had James Felice from the Felice Brothers lay down some accordion on two or three songs. He almost ripped the accordion in half!

Sean-Paul: If you listen to the title track “Don’t Die” and let it fade there comes a part where James was feeling it. He’s a big guy and he pulled the accordion so far you can hear the reeds ripping. He’s ripped accordions before and the guy who repairs them has never seen that but he goes to the guy and says, “I ripped another one.”

Bill: The Felice Brothers are a big influence and you have James Felice and Walter and Frank from By Land Or Sea. All these people coming from different sides of the spectrum being on our record, which is awesome.


The Austinist weighs in on show in.. Austin

On a night full of options across town for folk-rock fans, Adam Haworth Stephens and The Felice Brothers spun jangly alt-country tales riddled with misadventure for an enthusiastic, sold out crowd inside Emo’s on Friday. Stephens is one half of the minimalist production that is/was Two Gallants. He recently released a solo album, We Live On Cliffs, and hit the road with a three-piece backing band, which consists of Jen Grady (bass and cello), Matt Montgomery (keys), and Omar Cuellar (drums).

Stephens’ appears as a traditional folk artist as he comes to stage with a harmonica brace and acoustic guitar in hand. He begins the set with “The Cities That You’ve Burned,” a track recently praised by NPR and featured on their Song Of The Day. The San Francisco based singer/songwriter consistently proves himself as a prolific lyricist and talented guitarist.

Stephens' introspective tales of turbulence and torment continue with, “Your Witness,” and “Lead in Our Lungs.” It’s clear that this solo project highlights his country-tinged comfort zone. His tone is poignant as words tremble upon the accompanying instrumentals. The addition of his backing band softens and balances his bittersweet, earnest lyrical content. For their final song the band switches gears into a waltzy cover of Wilson Pickett’s “I Found A Love,” with Stephens adjusting his vocals to a wailing falsetto.

The Felice Brothers are up next. The enthusiastic five-piece ensemble hail from upstate New York and carry with them rustic folklore that come to life through their gritty brand of Americana. They plunge into their ramshackle, alt-country set with “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Ian Felice’s voice quivers as big brother James Felice rocks the jangling keys and Greg Farley jumps around playing the fiddle. Christmas Clapton and David Turbeville keep the beat on bass and drums, respectively.

The boys continue with “Marlboro Man” and “White Limousine” before testing out some new material including “Royal Hawaiian Hotel.” The troop of brothers (a couple genetic, all fraternal) take turns on the mic, join together for harmonious singalongs, swap instruments, stomp and dance around the stage with contagious energy. Their multi-instrumental, animated production has a winning, home-style feel. Their songs skip along from the stripped-down, heart-wrenching ballad “Goddamn You, Jim,” to a crowd singalong of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the boot-stomping, clap-along “Take This Bread,” and the washboard-heavy, fan favorite “Frankie’s Gun!” The crowd is damn near giddy as the band reduces to Ian and Christmas for “Saint Stephen’s End” before regrouping to bang out all the energy they can muster for their final song, “Whiskey In My Whiskey.”

The Felice Brothers’ latest release, last year’s Yonder The Clock demonstrates their heavy lyrical content laced with tales of hard women, drunkenness, incarceration, brothels and barroom bets. Their spirit may sound battered, but never broken. In a mere five years The Felice Brothers have come up from backyards and NYC subway performances to world tours. Their hustling has served them well. They’ve released seven albums, appeared at The Newport Folk Festival and toured with Conor Oberst, The Drive-By Truckers, Deer Tick and now, Adam Haworth Stephens.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Little Rock Setlist

Fire On The Mountain
Marlboro Man
White Limo
Dance Hall
Let Me Come Home
Step Dad
Got What I Need
Run Chicken Run
St. Stephens End
Greatest Show on Earth
Better Be
Frankies Gun
- encore break -

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Felice Brothers "Shock and Awe" in Dallas

For the second consecutive night at The Loft in Dallas, a band showed up and gave the crowd not only more than it bargained for, but almost a different product than what was expected, altogether.

On Friday night, Freelance Whales managed to beef up and bolster their cute tunes into something substantial and rather dramatic.

On Saturday night, The Felice Brothers provided the crowd of what seemed to be around 250 an hour and a half of shock and awe. Featuring an accordion, fiddle -- and, get this, a washboard -- a night of rootsy porch-stomping seemed to be imminent. Of course, anyone who would expect such a vibe completely from this band hasn't truly been paying attention. Sure, the New York outfit's recent releases lean heavily towards the indie-country and folk ends of the musical spectrum, but not without several notable detours in terrain that rocks a goodly amount.

After the first few tunes -- including the opening number, "Murder by Mistletoe" -- were complete, one thing was apparent and would prove to be theme for the night: A sonic unpredictability and generally loose vibe would reign supreme, regardless of how a song may sound on record. And, truth be told, early on in the set, it wasn't clear as to whether such recklessness would be a positive or negative.

The set list surely satisfied any who have followed them for the last few years. Even with a newer album out, the set focused on the two albums previous to their Mix Tape, released this past spring. Perhaps the familiarity of the songs was key, as the Brothers Felice weren't exactly worried about executing finely honed and exact replicas of the various album cuts. At times, especially with the songs that featured a greater focus on electric instrumentation, the ramshackle feel wore thin and some of the song-ending cacophonies simply distracted from the performance, and, on occasion, resembled little more than plain noise. At other times, however, the inventive nuances that certain songs were given helped them become far more dynamic than they are on record.

Guitarist and lead singer Ian Felice isn't what most would deem a great singer, but man, the dude sounds great when he sings. His seemingly one-dimensional tones were the perfect counterpoint to the times when accordion and piano player, James Felice and fiddle and washboard player, Greg Farley, would boisterously join in on harmonies, as they enthusiastically did in "Run, Chicken, Run," and "Frankie's Gun!"

It was the fun, rambunctious moments that lifted the evening out of any possible let-down. While "St. Stephens End" and "Wonderful Life," surely provided the evening with a calming few minutes; "Love Me Tenderly" steered the ship back into the bouncing, rootsy hayride that many have come to expect from this band.

But, the unpredictable fun wasn't over. For the encore closing, fan-favorite "Whiskey in My Whiskey," the band stepped up the tempo of the historically plodding number -- which is about a man who is planning on doing some bad things to a bad girl named Eleanor -- and presented it as an all-out Gospel-flavored sing-along that satisfyingly celebrated the dark events of the tune, instead of lamenting them, as is the case in the studio version.

With each player changing positions and switching instruments throughout the set, a certain chaos could've been detected, but the madness that carried over into the tunes actually seemed to help it all make sense in the end.

Personal Bias: I really think that "Frankie's Gun!", even as popular as it is in certain circles, isn't near as famous of a song as it should be. It's pretty genius.

By The Way: Greg Farley, the fiddle player, dances and moves like a hype man for a hip-hop act. As a friend of mine mentioned to me during the set, it was tough to reconcile the image of a wranglers-wearing fiddle player bopping and weaving while wagging his chain during the set. Regardless, his energy and passion were as undeniable as they were appreciated.

Random Note: I'm tired of the traditional encore routine. This antiquated method is especially awkward at a place like The Loft, where a band basically has to either stand directly next to the stage, in plain sight of the crowd, or walk all the way to the back of the room, only to walk back immediately. Enough already. Bands: Play your set -- every song you intend on playing -- and then leave the stage for good. Thanks.

Friday, November 12, 2010

HearSoundsWrite: the review from Greenville is in

The Felice Brothers
w/Adam Stephens
The Handlebar (Greenville, SC)
November 5, 2010
Upon our arrival at the Handlebar, my friend and I were greeted by a chipper girl working the door.

"Have you guys been to The Handlebar before?"

We told her no, that we were from Charleston. Her look was one of surprise. "You came all the way from Charleston?"

Perhaps her reaction should have served as a clue as to Greenville's perception of the Felice Brothers. Judging by the turnout--or lack thereof--the Felice Brothers' drawing power in the upstate was minimal. But the same band had filled a similarly sized venue a year ago in Charleston. It's not like they're some unknown band, either. They've got credentials: Opening stints for Dave Matthews Band, Bright Eyes and Old Crow Medicine Show; steady festival billing; and a handful of well-received LPs. Why shouldn't the folk rockers be able to draw a few hundred folks a show--some who are willing to make a 3.5 hour trip?

Who knows. The fact remains that, by my estimation, less than a hundred warm bodies were in attendance for the Felice Brothers' stop in Greenville. Never a beerline, no problem pushing up close. These are good things. But it reflected poorly on the town, and might dissuade the band from returning--or the venue from having them back. This is a bad thing.

The opener, Adam Stephens of Two Gallants, played a particularly mundane set that didn't warrant much interest from those unfamiliar with his stuff (like me, for example.) The band didn't take long to come out, but when they did it was immediately apparent that Ian was not well. He spent  most of the set gazing at his guitar. He looked tired, or distant, or strung out from the road, or something. Perhaps he was reacting to the lackluster audience. Who knows. He stepped off for a song, handing his guitar to fiddler/washboardist Greg Farley. Ian maintained his look of disinterest as slunk offstage. I wasn't entirely certain we'd see him back. He never once acknowledged the crowd--not a wave, not a thank you, not a nod. Admittedly, he sounded fine singing the likes of "Ruby Mae", "Take This Bread", and set closer "Frankie's Gun"--he even got a little fiery when roaring out "Run Chicken Run". But overall, Ian was unengaged and vacant, and it was almost a little hard to watch.

Thankfully, James Felice--the burly, bearded keys player and singer--refused to let the crowd leave disappointed. He helped the band maintain a nice pace, liberally injecting mid-song banter and exuding that down-home charisma for which the band has become known. Farley was also his usual ebullient self, wandering around the stage and gesturing in a vaguely hip-hoppish fashion. On a few songs, the band employed a drum machine--sort of an odd twist, but it's refreshing in the sense that they're not afraid to step out of their old-timey niche a bit. I don't like it when artists run in place, and while the Felice Brothers should ease into new territory for fear of scaring off their core audience, I'm glad they're doing it at all.

The song of the night was "Whiskey In My Whiskey", the James-led barroom romp that's distinguished itself as a fan favorite. It was nice to hear a charged version of "I Got What I Need", featuring just James on vocals and Ian on guitar. The song, as it appears on Tonight At the Arizona, is delicate and barebones, James offering wounded lyrics in a hushed quiver over a fingerpicked acoustic. But at the Handlebar, it took the form of an anthem, James belting lines and pounding his chest during the chorus of "I got what I need." We heard a few unreleased tunes, which were summarily well-received. James confirmed that their next album is currently in the mixing process. Hopefully it will see the light of day in early 2011 (that's just a guess on my part). Live staples "Helen Fry", "White Limousine", and "Lou the Welterweight" were also nice to hear.

"Katie Dear" was my favorite song from last year's Yonder Is the Clock (and one of this blog's top 20 songs of the year), but I thought it suffered a bit from Ian's lack of interest. A number of its drawn-out vocal notes came out a bit wobbly, or died prematurely. Oddly enough, the ballad stemmed out of a strange rap cover or something, featuring bassist Christmas on lead vocals. Look, I thought "Buried In Ice" was one of the best songs on Yonder, but Christmas doesn't really belong behind the main mic.

The set was short--sixteen songs in all. The show paled in comparison to their Charleston performance in 2009, but it's never a chore to watch a talented band play good songs. I just hope Ian has snapped out of whatever funk he was in, for the sake of future audiences.

As per usual, here's the setlist and some blurry iPhone pics:

Marlboro Man
Let Me Come Home
Ruby Mae
White Limousine
Helen Fry
Got What I Need
Fire At the Pageant
Lou the Welterweight
Whiskey In My Whiskey
Dance Hall (Christmas on vocals?)
Katie Dear
Take this Bread
Better Be (Farley on vocals)
Run Chicken Run

Frankie's Gun

Visit the blog for pictures and more.

Marlboro Man from Greenville SC


The Felice Brothers make Dig City Music's top Concerts of 2010

DigCity Music's (LINK)
Top 11 Concerts of 2010
1. Jay-Z - Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - June 12, 2010 - Manchester, TN
2. Janelle Monae - Voodoo Experience - October 31, 2010 - New Orleans, LA
3. My Morning Jacket - Voodoo Experience - October 31, 2010 - New Orleans, LA
4. Yeasayer - House of Blues - October 9, 2010 - New Orleans, LA
5. Galactic - Tipitina's Uptown - October 29, 2010 - New Orleans, LA
6. LCD Soundsystem - Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - June 11, 2010 - Manchester, TN
7. The Flaming Lips performing Dark Side of the Moon - Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - June 11, 2010 - Manchester, TN
8. Futurebirds - Gnat's Landing - July 4, 2010 - St. Simons Island, GA
9. Muse - Voodoo Experience - October 29, 2010 - New Orleans, LA
T-10. Galactic - Tipitina's Uptown - February 13, 2010 - New Orleans, LA
T-10. Felice Brothers - One Eyed Jack's - November 10, 2010 - New Orleans, LA

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dallas Observer Praises The Felice Brothers compare Ian Felice to Edgar Allen Poe

At once vaudevillian and also contemporarily raw, New York's Felice Brothers have been perhaps the key cog in the recent surge of indie roots rock. Their varied sound, featuring horns, ragtime piano and fiddle (among other distinctive noisemakers), lends the group a sincere diversity that even folk-intensive indie acts, such as early Avett Brothers or even Old Crow Medicine Show, have lacked. Listen to the band's proficient output of albums, specifically 2008's Felice Brothers and 2009's Yonder Is the Clock, and it's clear that "indie" isn't only for keyboard-toting husband-and-wife duos any longer.

While their signature song "Frankie's Gun" lit up bloggers' keyboards and many a television show soundtrack, the buzz surrounding this band was already quite loud. And it had to be: The accordion- and washboard-employing collective began playing not in coffeehouses and pubs, but in the trashy, noisy subway stations of New York City.

Plus, the gothic moan of lead singer Ian Felice couldn't be more appropriate for the band's Appalachian-style romps. Actually, Felice's voice would be suitable for the reader of an audio version of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," given how his ragged tone envelops tales of murder and love gone psycho in an alarmingly fitting fashion.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stepdad Lyrics

Thanks to Johnny!

oh somewhere below
these hollywood hills
past the lawyers,the chauffeurs, the tycoons will

somewhere beyond
the mason dixon line
past southern belles, mr. mctell, that old cherry wine

i know he's
somewhere out there
oh this reverend ain't right
mama put your foot on the gas
stepdad's in a black ski mask
oh my god we've been had
your stepdad

oh down in grand central
i can here 'em croon
saddle up the grey and all those old fiddle tunes

down in graceland
i can hear his feet pound
like locusts, a plague, or god comin' down

i know he's
somewhere out there
oh you reverend ain't right
mama put your hands on the gas
stepdad's in a black ski mask
oh my god we've been had

Culture Rover takes a look at "Frankie's Gun"

nostalgia twice-removed makes something new? the felice brothers, “frankie’s gun.”

The Felice Brothers.

Culture Rover

The Felice Brothers make music of twice-removed nostalgia, sounding like The Band of the 1970s singing about the vanishing America of the 1920s and 30s.

The group channels the best of The Band at every turn: the accordion flourish that starts “Frankie’s Gun”; the thudding drum sound; Ian Felice’s Dankoesque herky-jerky vocal stylings; the wondrous harmony singing; the barroom chug, somewhere between a lilt and a stomp. The group is even from the Catskills, for godsakes! It’s as if the Felice Brothers just wandered out of a Big Pink Basement Tapes session.

But don’t let the obvious comparisons fool you. Nostalgia twice-displaced is, in its way, something brand new.

Sounding something like The Band on Cahoots, the 1971 album that most found Robbie Robertson getting his Martin Scorsese retro-cinema stylings on, “Frankie’s Gun” is the story of a gangster accidentally shot by his buddy’s bullets after making a pickup in Chicago (“I could have sworn the box said Hollywood blanks”). One thinks of the budding buddy-movie relationship between Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) on the new HBO retro-gangster series Boardwalk Empire (see upcoming CR post)—though the Felice Brothers song preceded that show.

There’s a kind of absurdist joy in “Frankie’s Gun,” punctuated by Ian Felice’s final yodel to end the track. The song celebrates stupidity and violence coupled together in the service of a simultaneous loyalty to traditional family ties (“I saw a man hit my mom one time, really / I hurt him so damn bad I had to hide in Jersey”) and a shout of individual liberation from the constraints of society. Gangsta roots-rock.

It’s easy, of course, to compare the Felice Brothers to The Band, but this masks something else about the similarities between the groups. Like the best songs written by The Band, “Frankie’s Gun” is an extraordinary work of storytelling in song-lyric form. It is literary without wearing its sophistication on its sleeve. In fact, the sophistication is to be found precisely in the group’s hellbent pursuit of a rickety kind of road-worn beauty.

There’s great songwriting here, as on many compositions by the Felice Brothers. “Frankie’s Gun” is chock full of strange details that thicken the story. To wit: “I think I know the bloody way by now, Frankie / Turn the goddamn radio down, thank you / Pull over / Count the money / but don’t count the thirty in the glove box, buddy / That’s for to buy Lucille some clothes.” Or: “Work zones / Double fines / Don’t pass the double lines / Trail of McDonald’s, rest stop, trailer double wide.” Or: “Slip make a fender shine / Frankie you’re a friend of mine / Got me off a bender after long legged Brenda died.”

A kind of short-story quality develops in the tale of “Frankie’s Gun”: think modernist noir in the Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett mode.

And something else happens too. Full of Basement Tapes-worthy characters such as gangsters, prostitutes, washed-up boxers, and other misfits from some black-and-white movie screen or 1920s Paramount Records blues recording (themselves often nostalgia tracks already, recapitulating previous lost histories of America), the songs of the Felice Brothers keep leaping into the present. Stories become allegorical, half remote details and figures of speech from the past, and half contemporary references.

A gangster whose “car goes / Chicago / for to pick up some cargo” could be a character from some old picture show, or, in the blink of an eye, a protagonist from Cahoots, or, blink once more, a figure in a Scorsese film from the 70s, or, blink one last time, a band on a hardscrabble tour from one joint to the next, like the Felice Brothers following The Band following the Rabbit’s Foot Minstrels down some lost highway that you want to follow even though you feel like you’re lost.

Worst Song Evah?

It seems nearly impossible that a band can put out such a clearly kickass song like "Eye of the Tiger" for Rocky 3 and then put out this steaming pile of gay shit. The lyrics are precious, each line a cornier cliche than the next. And yes Eye of the Tiger was a kick ass song (despite being in the gayest Rocky movie, evidence is at the below training scene when Rocky finally defeats Apollo Creed in a race on the beach ensuing in the gayest moment in cinematic history not involving Nathan Lane.) The really funny part in the water starts at about the 3:00 mark

High On You lyrics

There you stood, that'll teach ya
To look so good and feel so right
Let me tell you 'bout the girl I met last night
It's understood, I had to reach ya
I let the wheel of fortune spin
I touched your hand before the crowd
Started crushin' in
Now I'm higher than a kite
I know I'm gettin' hooked on your love
Talkin' to myself, runnin' in the heat
Beggin' for your touch in the middle
Of the street and I --
*I can't stop thinking 'bout you girl
I must be living in a fantasy world
I've searched the whole world over
To find a heart so true
Such complete intoxication
I'm high on you*
Smart and coy, a little crazy
The kinda face that starts a fight
Let me tell you 'bout the girl I had last night
Piercin' eyes, like a raven
You seemed to share my secret sin
We were high before the night
Started kickin' in
Now I'm screamin' in the night
I know I'm gettin' hooked on your love
Talkin' to myself, runnin' in the heat
Beggin' for your touch in the middle
Of the street and I -

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Atlanta (The Earl) setlist

Greatest Show
Marlboro Man
White Limo
God Damn You Jim
Run Chicken
Wonderful Life
Fire At The Paegant
Take This Bread
Frankies Gun
Farley:Better Be
Got What I Need
Two Hands
Saint Stephens End

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Stepdad" from Milford CT

Reader contributes setlist from Raleigh, blog and a song.

Ballad of Lou,
Fire Mountain,
White Limo,
Marlboro Man,
Let me come home,
Royal Hawaiian Hotel,
Dance Hall,
Run Chicken,
Her eyes dart round
river jordan,
Ruby Mae,
Got what I need,
Farley song,
St. Stephens end,
Frankie Gun
He has a blog check it out below

And has contributed a nice cover version of "Wonderful Life"

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Got What I Need" from Boston

"Got What I Need" Lyrics

drink some coloured drink
fall in love and run
lost my shoes i think
so my runnings done
y'say the world i see
will get the best of me
but I got what i need

had a girl one time
but she upped and left me
sometimes i wonder why
guess she didn't like me
y'say the world of love
will get the best of us
but I got what i need

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 Felice Brothers to be featured on HBO's "Eastbound and Down" Sunday night

Frankie's Gun to be included in the Season Finale episode of the hilarious HBO series based on the life of ex Major League pitcher, Kenny Powers. For a sample of the fine show, executive produced by comedic giants Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, I have included a youtube clip from season one.

Duke and the King from Electric Ballroom


Concert Review from Brooklyn Glutton 10-31-10


Halloween 2010 with THE FELICE BROTHERS…

New York area fans of roots-rock music had a few serious options for live shows this Halloween.  The Black Crowes kicked off a 5-night residency in Times Square, playing one acoustic and one electric set each night at the awkwardly monikered “Best Buy Theater,” a designation that makes its prior corporate sponsored incarnation, “The Nokia Theater,” almost seem quaint.  Notorious Halloween mischief makers, Phish, played their third and final night at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, surprising fans with an interpretive performance of Little Feat’s 1978 double live album, “Waiting For Columbus” in its entirety.  I kept it simple after a long day of extreme trick-or-treating, and opted to spend my night close to home with The Felice Brothers at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. 

Hailing from the Catskill Mountains of Upstate, NY these rural rockers play southern flavored Yankee anthems that tell tales of drunkenness, drug dealing, incarceration, desperation, and brotherly love.  Lead singer and guitarist, Ian Felice leads the charge with a vocal quality that is uncannily reminiscent of Bob Dylan and a stage presence that conveys pain and discomfort at the root of his soulful delivery.  Collectively, The Felice Brothers churn out true and honest Americana in the spirit of The Band, their sets often reaching the level of an all out jamboree, complete with accordion, fiddle, washboard and a full complement of horns. 

Halloween brought oddity to the ordinarily motley appearance of the group, with Ian performing the entire set in an unzipped, fitted red dress, his face painted white and dark tracks painted up and down his left arm like a transvestite junkie zombie.  The traveling dice thrower turned bass player known as Christmas Clapton donned a tutu for the occasion, and fiddle player and multi-instrumentalist, Greg Farley showed up as the Gorton’s Fisherman in a hooded yellow rain slicker and a Santa Claus beard.  Big bearded brother, James Felice, on keys and accordion, looked particularly clean cut and in control, as he seems to have emerged as the the grownup of the bunch since last year’s departure of their drumming and singing third brother, Simone Felice, who went on to tour and record with the Avett Brothers and start the self described glam-soul-folk quartet, “The Duke and the King.” 

In the video above, Ian spills his cross-dressed soul for the highly inspired “Take This Bread,” a hillbilly spiritual of sorts that speaks to the generosity of the impoverished spirit.  Despite the fact that only two of the Felice’s in the current lineup are actually brothers, the show has the feeling of a family band, which is only helped by the intimacy and friendliness of the venue, a welcome relief after struggling to get comfortable in the much colder and more sprawling Terminal 5 last week.


A noteworthy sidebar mention should be made of the newly opened Cubana Social (70 N. 6th Street btwn. Wythe Ave & Kent Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-782-3334) with a takeout window immediately to your right upon exiting the Music Hall.  I had a perfect Cortadito (made from Intelligentsia espresso! —see earlier post, ‘Coffee Hugs’) while waiting for a sizeable savory chicken empanada to accompany me on the walk home.  It was just a small taste that left me intrigued enough want to re-visit it in a more thorough capacity in the near future, and it further reinforced my strong preference for exiting a concert venue in the heart of Williamsburg rather than in the barren Westside wasteland of Terminal 5, or worse yet, Times Square or Atlantic City. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

The "Reason YouTube was Invented"

From the Pacific Gazette:


....Is so that you can be listening to some disaffected, middle-aged anti-cracker's playlist of Avett Brothers and Reverend Peyton's Big Band tunes and then, bang!, outta nowhere stumble across a red hot plate of jambalysian rabble-rousing, crash-the-house-down, aural explosion that you had no idea even existed before.

Stuff like the following, from The Felice Brothers...

King Hell, I tell you....Even if Frankie won't....

'Turn the goddamn radio down!'


happy halloween! from Brooklyn