(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Rock singer-songwriter Simone Felice, formerly a member of the popular upstate New York roots-rock band the Felice Brothers, will perform a solo show at Club Helsinki Hudson on Friday, December 7, 2012, at 9pm. His brother and former bandmate, James Felice, is expected to join Simone, adding vocal harmonies and accordion to the mix. At a recent show by the Felice Brothers at Helsinki, Simone joined the band for a number and nearly stole the show.
Simone Felice is a celebrated songwriter, author, and poet born in Palenville, N.Y., a small working-class hamlet in the Catskill Mountains. When he was 15, he formed a punk band with friends. By 18, he had quit school and was fronting the band, by this time calling themselves Eight Body Trunk and playing clubs, including New York City’s fabled CBGB’s.
Eventually the young rockers went their separate ways and Felice began writing poetry and vignettes, leading to the publication of his first collection, The Picture Show, when he was 22 years old. He began performing these bizarre monologues regularly at the historic Nuyorican Poets Café in New York’s Lower East Side, garnering the young poet invitations to read in London, Harvard University, San Francisco and Berlin.
In 2004 and then 2005, Simone published his first short works of fiction, Goodbye Amelia, a coming of age story about a small-town girl struggling to survive at the dawn of the Reagan era.
In 2001 Simone began writing songs with his brother Ian. Together they retreated to the woods they grew up in, where jobless with a cheap guitar they wrote and made recordings (two archived collections know as The Big Empty and Mexico) with their friend Doc Brown. In this manner the two brothers clocked four years in complete obscurity, sowing the seeds of what would become (with the addition of younger brother James in winter 2006) the Felice Brothers, whose subsequent albums Tonight at the Arizona, The Felice Brothers, and Yonder is the Clock have garnered international praise.
Over the group’s history, from starting out playing New York’s subways and streets, to Radio City Music Hall and beyond, brother Simone has been one of its key lyricists and arrangers, co-writing some of the boys’ most beloved songs, including Don’t Wake The Scarecrow, Frankie’s Gun, Run Chicken Run, Ruby Mae, Whiskey in My Whiskey, Love Me Tenderly, Hey Hey Revolver, Mercy, Wonderful Life, Ponzi, Your Belly In My Arms, The Devil Is Real, and Radio Song to name a few.
At the request of iconic record producer Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Beastie Boys, Adele, et al), Simone flew to California in the late summer of 2008 to play drums on the Columbia Records release I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers. Lending his signature Catskill Mountain funk to the Avett’s riveting songwriting and Rubin’s thoughtful production, Felice appears on some of the albums stand-out songs, including the title-track and lead single I and Love and You, which helped send the album to #1 in the Billboard folk charts.
Felice’s first novel, Black Jesus, was recently bought by award-winning publisher Allen & Unwin (Atlantic Books/Faber&Faber) and Random House, which will release a German translation in spring 2012. It tells the story of a young Marine shipped home to his nowhere town after being blinded in action by a homemade bomb, and the unexpected friendship he finds with a mysterious dancer who arrives there fleeing darkness and violence of a different kind. Part love story, part protest of the broken promises lying at the heart of the American dream, Black Jesus is a passionate, twisted hymn to the marginalized and forgotten.
At the age of 12 Simone suffered a brain aneurysm and was pronounced clinically dead for several minutes. Recovering from emergency brain surgery in a local hospital, he spent two months in intensive care, relearning basic motor skills, including reading and writing.
On June 2, 2010, after a series of fainting spells, Simone underwent emergency open-heart surgery at Albany Medical Center when doctors discovered that a childhood congenital disorder had left the 33 year old with an irreversible calcification of the aortic valve, leaving only 8% blood-flow to the body and brain. Just two weeks after the surgery he joined his brothers on stage at Pete Seeger’s annual Clearwater Festival to help rid their beloved Hudson River of industrial waste. In the year following his heart operation and Pearl’s birth, Felice did what he’s always done: He wrote songs. With a renewed clarity and sense of purpose, Simone bent to his new work, leaving behind any past monikers, or preconceptions they might hold, in search of something pure, something truly his own.
Players on these new recordings include friends from Mumford & Sons and The Felice Brothers. The album was written and produced over a year’s time, at five unique locations: Felice’s barn-attic at home in the Catskills, an abandoned high school in Beacon, the Old Church in North London, a Manhattan apartment, Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, and was ultimately woven together with mastering guru Greg Calbi (Patti Smith, John Lennon, Dylan, Springsteen, et al) in New York City.
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