Simone Felice’s New Band, The Duke & The King, Deliver with Debut LP

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While the Felice Brothers have been enjoying the recent success of Yonder is the Clock, eldest brother Simone Felice has kept himself busy with his new duo, The Duke & The King. Felice (The Duke) enlisted the help of former George Clinton collaborator Robert “Chicken” Burke (The King) this winter, when the two sequestered themselves in a one-room shack in New York’s Catskill Mountains. The recording process, evocative of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, involved wintry isolation and a two-inch tape machine. Once the snow finally melted, the pair had effectively captured what a press release calls the “bucolic calm” of Nothing Gold Can Stay (out August 4 on Ramseur Records).

The album’s mixing and mastering was interestingly entrusted to “Bassy” Bob Brockman (Notorious B.I.G.). The resulting sound is described as “fusing unlikely elements of blue-eyed soul, Topanga Canyon cool, and Marc Bolan-esque acoustic reverie.” Neil McCormick of The Telegraph raves, “It’s a kind of cracked country soul thing, with a dash of psychedelia, and at the heart of it are Simone’s songs which are, honestly, the best I have heard in a while, touching the hem of Dylan by way of Gordon Lightfoot.”

The Duke & The King’s name is, as you might have guessed, an allusion to Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Felice explains, “Among other things the name is a reminder, a sort of scarlet letter we’re happy to paint over our hearts to help us keep it honest: the music, the poetry.” The band’s sound, as idiosyncratic as its name and history, is perhaps the product of a winter that Felice calls, “a time of tragedy, sadness, and regeneration.” On the other hand, it might just be the work of two dreamers. Burke says of the albums first single, “The Morning I Get To Hell”, “I was thinking about the lies we tell ourselves, the lies we tell the people we love most, and how good at it we have become as a nation of people. If there is such a place, will it be as Dante dreamed? Maybe not. I saw a ferris wheel, a dance party, a TV screen, such a simple biting emptiness, and from the loud speaker all along that cheap drum machine forever.”

Having already toured the UK, the twosome is enjoying considerable acclaim. After seeing them for the first time, McCormick lauded, “There is a boldness to Simone’s writing, the fierceness and fearlessness of complete honesty that pushes them into places that simply take the breath away…When he tells stories from his own life he goes to places few artists ever touch…These songs are good enough to be sung by the whole world, if only people got to hear them.” A select few will get to hear them on a limited-run August tour through the States.

The Duke & The King Tour Dates:

August 1- Woodstock, NY @ The Colony Cafe

August 2- Cambridge, MA @ Club Passim

August 3- Philadelphia, PA @ Chapel at First Unitarian Church

August 4- New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge

August 6- Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506

August 7- Atlanta, GA @ Eddie’s Attic

August 8- Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree

August 10- Nashville, TN @ The Basement

August 11- Newport, KY @ Southgate House (Parlour)

August 13- Indianapolis, IN @ Locals Only

August 14- Chicago, IL @ Schubas

August 15- Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe

August 16- Arlington, VA @ IOTA Club and Cafe

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