Friday, June 1, 2012

Simone Felice - Simi Stone -- The Hamilton - May 31 2012

Simi Stone - We begin with a half hour set from one member of the Simone Felice trio that will be playing later. Simi Stone thankfully offers a warmer set than the cool atmosphere in the club tonight. Partly due to the small attendance (50?), but mostly due to the air conditioning, one of the more comfortable DC clubs is anything but. She plays a violin and acoustic guitar while displaying a strong voice. I felt her quieter moments were quite nice, as her more powerful vocal notes tended to overwhelm and would have worked better atop a full band. The violin sounded great and this was a nice warm-up. Well, it would have been if the air conditioning was not so...
Simone Felice - The talented Felice Brothers have been worth following in their relatively short existence, as they have quickly established themselves as thoughtful writers and performers of rootsy folk rock music. Simone Felice's talents were a little too much to stay behind a drum kit, so he has moved forward with the Duke and the King, and now simply playing solo. Well not quite solo, as he had Ms. Simi Stone on backing vocals and violin along with a drummer. That was just the right formula to add to his vocal and guitar work. He alternated between a lovely sounding hollowed body electric and an acoustic 6-string. The show may have crept up to 60 people and had a weird vibe in that big room. I felt like I was watching an episode of Austin City Limits while at home on the couch. That was enhanced when I noticed the TV sets they have for the two distant bar areas had not only nice close-ups of the stage but multi camera shots with two angles of Simone Felice superimposed into one image. A lot of effort here, when you could sit close enough like you would if you were at the Red Palace (provided there was seating of course). Simone Felice, like most quality performers, played as if he were communicating to each person in the crowd individually. His songs were thoughtful and his explanations were light and playful, even for the darker numbers. I was hopeful for a bit more variety of tempos and eventually there was just enough. He dedicated the last couple of songs to his recently departed 'neighbor', Levon Helm, with the second one being the classic "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". This was a quality effort by Simone Felice in a club still trying to find its place in the DC music scene.

Quote of the Night: Simi Stone... "This song is about someone who is alive."

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