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James Felice, The Felice Brothers

Busking Brothers are Westward Bound

With a new album released March 4th that elicits barroom ballads of yesteryear, The Felice Brothers are westward bound in true Americana fashion -- in a Winnebago. The three brothers from the Catskill Mountains of New York along with bandmates Christmas and Greg Farley will perform at Cafť du Nord on March 20th. James Felice spoke with SF Station during a tour break in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he was visiting with his sister.

SF Station (SFS): Your sister didnít want get involved with the band?

James Felice (JF): No, she is married to a really amazing songwriter named A.A. Bondy. Heís one of our favorites and she is on tour and working with him.

SFS: When did you decide to start busking?

JF: That was about two years ago, right when the band started coming together. We decided that the best way to learn how to play was to hit the streets and learn how to be performers and make a little money while we were at it.

SFS: How did that help you hone you skills?

JF: It helped in a lot of ways. We werenít really a band until we started doing that.

SFS: Did you usually get good responses?

JF: Usually it was great. Every once in awhile some old lady would call the cops on us.

SFS: Are you still touring in a short bus?

JF: No, that shit broke down a little while ago. We bought a Winnebago and we all live in that now and tour around. Itís pretty sweet; it has a bathroom and fridge.

SFS: Itís an upgrade?

JF: Hell yeah.

SFS: You spend a lot of time on the road and in urban areas. Do you ever wish you were back in the Catskills?

JF: Sometimes I get a little nostalgic, but itís a wonderful thing to see the country. We spend a lot of time in cities and big towns, but there is always something wonderful about each town. Weíre always moving, so usually itís pretty fun.

SFS: How is your relationship with your brothers when you are traveling?

JF: We get along great. Beyond the working relationship that we all have, we are brothers that grew up together and we love each other, obviously. Itís not something I really think about. I donít differentiate between my brothers and Christmas and Greg Farley, who are in the band now. They are all my brothers and my best friends.

SFS: Your songs mostly draw from music of the past; what are some of your modern influences?

JF: I like Ghostface and 50 Cent. There is not a lot of modern music that we like, but I like a lot of the hip hop that is out.

SFS: All kinds of musicians tell me how much they like Ghostface. Why do you like him?

JF: I think he is an amazing lyricist. He has a flow that is unbelievable and he always has really interesting production with his songs. He is probably the best rapper that is working now.

SFS: What did you do to commemorate the release of your first album released by a record label in the U.S.?

JF: We didnít even get drunk or do anything special. We had some good fried chicken, though.

The Felice Brothers perform March 20th at Cafť du Nord. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Doors open at 7:30pm and the show starts at 8pm.