A.A. Bondy and Felice Brothers at the Bearsville Theater

PART I:

 

AA BONDY

 

 

A.A. Bondy played at the Bearsville Theater last Saturday night. He was opening for the Felice Brothers and got a pretty long set. That’s unusual for an opening act, but then, A.A. Bondy isn’t just any opening act… I’ve seen him live a number of times, and have loved his music since the first time I heard it. His CD, “American Heart’s,” is one of the most beloved in my collection. As a matter of fact, A.A. Bondy recently appeared on Conan O’Brien in support of the album. You can tell that Bondy’s music comes from the soul, and he really sucks you in with his playing… The sounds which he draws forth from his guitar and harmonica are incredible, it sounds like much more than just the two instruments. His wife, Clare Felice, sometimes plays with him on keys as well. He was playing solo on Saturday however, and he sounded the best I’ve ever heard him (and that’s saying something, because he’s always great). He completely blew me away with his performance. It made me think of the title of the Bruce Springsteen song, “I’m On Fire.” Because A.A. Bondy was. He actually sang that song the very first time I saw him perform, and it was never more true than on Saturday night.

 

How Will You Meet Your End

 

Black Rain, Black Rain

 

John The Revelator

 

 

 

PART II:

 

THE FELICE BROTHERS

 

 

 

The Felice Brothers sounded terrific when they came on after A.A. Bondy. Okay, okay, so it doesn’t hurt that they played all my favorite songs… “Hey Hey Revolver,” “Goddamn You, Jim,” “Rockefeller Drug Law Blues,” and “Don’t Wake the Scarecrow,” to name a few, but they were really tight and had a lot of energy. Simone danced and jumped around the stage for the duration of the show, stopping only long enough to sing the beautiful, slow waltz tempo “Devil Is Real.” (Aside from “Mercy,” it’s the only song that Simone sings where he doesn’t play the drums while doing so). Ian always sings with a lot of heart, but I felt that he was especially inspired on Saturday. As for James… His accordion playing has never been better, and he was incredible on the organ! He was really rocking that thing… I loved the stage set-up as well. Christmas climbed up on one of the amps for a few songs and played his bass up there. The amp was directly behind Ian so when Christmas stood on it, it made for a really amazing stage picture. Ian front and center, Christmas behind him but higher, James on one side, Simone the other… And of course, Farley wandering the stage as well. I know that that doesn’t have anything to do with how the Felice Brothers sounded, but it’s all the little things like that that make their shows special, and that sets them apart. I’m all about the music, but I enjoy things like that in a show. I don’t care how technically great of a musician you are. If you can’t deliver a heart-filled and interesting performance, then I’m not going to enjoy the show. That’s what’s so appealing about the Felice Brothers. They aren’t perfect, but who would want them to be? It’s just part of their charm. As someone at the show said to me, “People feel good when they see the Felice Brothers. They feel good at the show, and they feel good when they leave. That’s what’s so wonderful about them, and I think that’s why people love them so much.” I would have to agree. The Felice Brothers treat everyone like a friend, and they enjoy their own shows. More importantly, they enjoy their own shows WITH their fans, not distanced from them. That’s the secret as a musician, I think. To enjoy your own shows. Hard to imagine that it’s a secret, but it seems to be… So many bands don’t really seem to enjoy themselves. Well, uh, then how are we as listeners supposed to? I admire the Felice Brothers because they just go with how they feel, and don’t care what people think. In return, (most) people love them! I personally have never been to a Felice Brothers show where I didn’t enjoy myself. It’s just not possible to put into words the experience of being at a Felice Brothers show, it’s something you really have to see for yourself. And I recommend you do just that. See you at a future show???

 

Goddamn You, Jim

 

Ruby May

 

Hey Hey Revolver

 

Two Hands

 

 

 

 

 

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