Friday, November 5, 2010

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.