Simone Felice is having a very big week.
This morning, Simone announced the release of his own new music, a new song titled “Year Around The Sun,” the first tune from an unnamed album that will come out in 2022. It’s all part of a new deal Simone signed with Chrysalis Records. Click here for more information.
Simone also announced that he’ll be playing a live, ticketed show and livestream on Oct. 23 at Radio Woodstock’s new studio on Route 28 in West Hurley, NY. Click here to buy tickets to the in-person show. Click here to buy tickets for the livestream.
It’s all part of the latest endeavor from a guy who many in the Hudson Valley and beyond first got to know when The Felice Brothers band emerged some years ago. Simone is now keeping busy producing and writing with The Lumineers, Bat For Lashes, Jade Bird, Matt Maeson featuring Lana Del Rey and The Felice Brothers. At the same time, Simone’s musical artistry is fueling multiple chart-topping singles and multi-platinum albums, and it generated a Mercury Prize nomination.
A press release from Simone’s team described “Year Around The Sun” as “sparse and strikingly poignant.” The songwriter revealed that the tune was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wrote this song on New Year’s morning, 2021,” says Felice, “I woke up feeling empty inside. Like an old cornhusk battered by the wind. I’m sure the whisky in my whisky the night before helped me arrive there. I think it’s important to recognize and own the raw fact that we’ve all just been through the most surreal collective trauma this past year and more: seemingly endless lockdowns, constant fear and confusion, a recalibration of what’s real and what’s important. My hope is that perhaps with a little help from our friends, music, laughter, and time, we’ll find a rebirth.”
“Year Around The Sun” was recorded in the Catskill Mountains, at Sun Mountain Studios, the mountaintop studio in Boiceville that Simone built with his long-time friend, Baron, who in addition to being a producer is an arranger and engineer. Sun Mountain is also where The Lumineers recorded “BRIGHTSIDE,” which Baron, in addition to co-producing with Simone, mixed and engineered.
I think the first time I ever saw Simone perform live music was with The Felice Brothers, during the Woodstock Film Festival a good number of years ago.
The film festival typically includes multiple live performances in tandem with screenings. But concerts have also complemented the cinematic offerings because Woodstock is Woodstock and live music has always been a great component to the film festival’s epic, and I mean epic parties.
So The Felice Brothers were performing at the film festival and in advance of that night’s show, the band had set up on the sidewalk on Mill Hill Road in Woodstock, just as it approaches the Village Green. They were jamming and a little boy, a toddler, was fascinated with Simone and his drumming. Simone responded by engaging the toddler with funny faces and by pointing a drum stick at him. It was a memorable moment for all, including those of us who were simply watching.
Simone’s engaged approach to making music, and his propensity toward involving all of those around him, even those simply listening through headphones a million miles away, is what has always stood out for me, about this Hudson Valley native’s approach to his craft. Simone writes a song, but he doesn’t stop there. He makes sure that song reaches its destinations—our ears and more importantly our hearts.
This is what comes to mind when I think about Simone’s “fingerprints” on a song. You can find it on “Year Around The Sun.” You can find it on his 2018 album, “The Projector.” And you can find it on “Cleopatra,” “III” and “BRIGHTSIDE” by The Lumineers.
Simone’s passion for the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley also shines through for his music. I love to hike and camp in the region I have called home for more than 30 years. I love to work hard on a hike, sleep beneath the stars and wake up in a sleeping bag, feeling worn and weathered but also feeling like a million bucks.
Simone’s music, including his latest effort released today, showcases his hard work. Simone’s music makes me feel as though I’m looking up at a Catskill Mountain night sky, with no moon but plenty of stars. The smallness I feel gazing at the universe is a big feeling, a feeling of empowerment, a feeling of having a home and being home. And last but not least, the luster of Simone’s songs for me lies in its worn edges, like a well-loved and well-read book. Simone with his songwriting does not always showcase the sunny side of the street, and that’s why I’ll always drop what I’m doing to listen to his tunes, old and new.