TONITE: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

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Impersonating The Band hasn’t been a decently-paying gig since Scorsese filmed The Last Waltz in 1976, but judging by the full-up crowd at the Trocadero last time they came through town back in 2009 The Felice Brothers seem to be on their way. Actually, ‘impersonating’ sounds a little too dismissive and I like these guys, so let’s go with ‘evoking’ or ‘carrying on the old, weird Americana tradition’ of the Band instead. Besides, they have the pedigree (hail from upstate New York, sons of a carpenter) they’ve paid their dues (busked in the subways of New York; went acoustic at the Newport Folk Festival; woodshedd-ed at Levon Helm’s Barn Burner) and, more importantly, they are naturals. There are five Felice Brothers these days, but only two are actual blood brothers named Felice: waifish singer/guitarist Ian Felice, who looks like Dylan ‘63 and sings like Dylan ‘68; and bear-like keyboard/accordionist James Felice, who looks like a young Hank Williams Jr. in his beard and Zorro hat. A large part of the charm of the Felice Brothers live show is you get the distinct impression they would be having this much fun even if nobody showed up. There is something about the way they all smile when they play, like they share some wonderful private joke you want in on — kinda like The Basement Tapes. But if the electro-meets-The-Bad-Seeds hybrid of “Ponzi” —  the first track off Celebration, Florida due out May 5th on Fat Possum — is any indication, the Brothers have grown weary of The Band comparisons and want to make it clear they don’t live there anymore. — JONATHAN VALANIA

R5 Productions Presents: The Felice Brothers + Diamond Doves at The First Unitarian Church 8:00 PM tonight. Tickets: $20.00

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