The Felice Brothers hosted The Felice County Fair on Saturday, October 1. Set on a crisp, fall day at the picturesque Arrowood Farms Brewery in Accord, NY, the event featured a day of musical acts and collaborations.
The fair served as a sort of homecoming celebration for The Felice Brothers, who hail from nearby Palenville, NY. The band, made up of siblings Ian (vocals and guitar) and James Felice (vocals, keyboard, accordion), also includes Jesske Hume (bass guitar) and William Lawrence (drums) was concluding a long tour in support of their latest album, From Dreams to Dust (2021).
The day of music kicked off with a solo acoustic set by Will Lawrence. Lawrence delivered a quick solo set, featuring acoustic ballads off his first solo album, Through the Hollow Hills. Lawrence, who played the acoustic guitar and kick drum, was an appropriate act to start the day.
Up next was Al Olender, who dazzled the crowd with her powerful vocals and charismatic stage presence. Flanked by a full band, Olender was also joined by James Felice for several songs. Quite simply, Olender sings about life. She delivered passionate and honest lyrics to songs dealing with the realities of a harsh break up, the death of a close family member, and life during a pandemic. By the end of her set, the crowd was fully engaged.
The music continued with individual sets by Haley Heynderickx, Evan Stephens Hall (Pine Grove), and Hooray For the Riff Raff. As the day progressed, the collaborations became more plentiful. The Felice Brothers served as the backing band for songs with Stephens Hall and Hurray for the Riff Raff. Conor Oberst joined the fun, playing the kazoo with Stephens Hall. Even Ian Felice’s son joined on stage at one point, banging a toy drum.
Finally, it was time for The Felice Brothers. As the band took the stage, James Felice proudly proclaimed the festival had sold out. It was a well-deserved accomplishment for a band that has earned a loyal and devoted following after almost two decades of touring. The band launched into their opening track, the catchy “Jazz on the Autobahn.” Crowd participation was at high at this point, as the audience joined in, singing and dancing along with the band.
On a day filled with special moments, perhaps the crowning moment occurred halfway through The Felice Brothers set when the band brought Simone Felice to the stage. Simone, a founding member, left the band in 2009 due to medical issues. It was clearly evident on the brothers’ faces how special this moment was. With Simone in tow, the band closed their set with several early-era Felice Brothers favorites, including “The Devil is Real” and “Whiskey in my Whiskey” before closing their set with “White Limo.”
The night was not over yet, as the fair closed with headliner Conor Oberst. Oberst, most known for his work with Bright Eyes, filled his set with tracks from his various solo albums. He was backed again by The Felice Brothers, who have served as Oberst’s backing band for serval tours, as well as his most recent solo offering, Salutations (2016). As the set neared a close, Oberst summoned all of the day’s performers to the stage, before closing with the Bill Withers classic “Lean On Me.” It was a fitting end to a wonderful day of music and collaboration.
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