Custom Search

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Live Show Review: The Felice Brothers


A Felice Brothers concert is not a spectator sport. From the get-go, it was clear that participation is required. Taking the 40 Watt stage around 11 p.m., the Felice Brothers motioned to the crowd to come right up to the front. Without hesitation everyone got off of the stools and chairs they occupied during an opening act by Taylor Hollingsworth, a member of Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band, which showcased his guitar prowess and original material (does emo-folk exist? If not, it does now with Hollingsworth). The Felice Brothers opened with a slow, soaring instrumental intro before going straight into “Murder By Mistletoe,” followed directly by “Greatest Show On Earth.”

The band was not playing to a slacker crowd, which was hollering, dancing, and randomly professing their love (to which a member of the band would usually reciprocate), but nobody was a match for Greg Farley, the fiddle/washboard player who moved like a 9-year-old with ADD who forgot to take his meds. Jabbing the fiddle-stick dangerously close to James's head, crashing his washboard over the cymbal to the beat of "Chicken Wire," and mouthing along to the lyrics with corresponding hand gestures like a random super-fan might do, Farley was pure entertainment. Meanwhile, James Felice played the accordion and piano with as much soul as an R&B great, and he was clearly enjoying every minute of it. Ian Felice did most of the singing honors in his gruff vocal stylings when he wasn’t busy hopping on top of the amp to play guitar while the others (excluding new drummer David Turbeville) took turns at the mic. Meanwhile, bass player Christmas Clapton, a former traveling dice thrower who joined up with the Felice Brothers at 19 years old, kept it solid and low-key on the bass, sometimes even sitting on the ground to play.

Highlights included "Run, Chicken, Run," “Frankie’s Gun,” and “Whiskey In My Whiskey.” The drinking theme kept up when James Felice instructed the crowd to sing "From the man downtown!" in response to his “Where’d you get your liquor?” The band also played two new songs, both of which seemed to be moving away from the country/bluegrass leanings into rock territory, but still maintaining their down home essence. The crowd peaced out (no seriously, peace signs were thrown) and left the stage, returning at the crowd's insistence to play an encore which included “St. Stephen’s End” and “Two Hands,” a Townes Van Zandt cover with a praise Jesus message. My one and only complaint: where is “Penn Station?” Blowing off arguably the best song on your new CD is only OK when you have a massive greatest hits catalog. Despite that one bone to pick, the Felice Brothers gave everyone a good time, great music, a good bit of their sweat, maybe some of years off of Ian's vocal chords, and even a dollar bill (donated to a fan away during "Take This Bread"). It would have been hard to ignore their energy and impossible to stay seated.

-Julie McCollum

This content is solely the property of The Athens Blur Magazine and may not be re-produced without expressed written consent. The Athens Blur Magazine is an 8 issue/year music & variety publication proud to be based in the Classic City of Athens, Ga. For more information, please contact

No comments:

Post a Comment