Brothers bloom: Folk band goes from subway to park

Brothers bloom: Folk band goes from subway to park
Associated Press / Joe Giblin

They’re moving on up!

A folk band that got its start playing in a Williamsburg subway station will return to the neighborhood in triumph on June 11, playing the biggest stage of the week-long Northside Festival. For the Felice Brothers, the concert in McCarren Park is a homecoming to a neighborhood that has since been discovered by music-lovers all over the globe, said one of its members.

“We’re really happy to be back there, I love that area — everyone in the world loves that area,” said James Felice, one of the two titular siblings in the five-piece band.

The down-home outfit — known for its raucous live shows — lived in a Williamsburg basement for a few months in 2006, and played for tips before an audience of straphangers in the Bedford L train station, said Felice. But at the upcoming show, the Felice Brothers will play outside before an audience of thousands, opening for — and then acting as the backing band for — singer-songwriter Conor Oberst. Alternative country star Kasey Musgraves will also play that night.

Since the band’s Brooklyn days, it has released 10 country-inspired albums and played at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including the legendary Newport Folk Festival and Bonnaroo. At the Northside concert, the band members will preview tunes from their upcoming record “Life in the Dark,” set to be released on June 26 — and Felice cannot wait to unveil a fresh crop of sepia-toned music to the sun-bathed masses..

“It’s just a very live, raw record,” he said. “There’s a certain kinetic energy that’s really exciting.”

Other Northside acts at McCarren Park include a free show from rock band Wolfmother on June 10, a set from from rapper Grandmaster Flash on June 11, and former Beach Boy Brian Wilson, playing the album “Pet Sounds” in full on June 12.

The festival will also feature more than 400 artists playing at 30 venues in Williamsburg and Bushwick. Keeping the shows in the neighborhood capitalizes on the cityscape and sets the extravaganza apart from other music festivals, which often isolate visitors at a camping site, said Northside’s chief director.

“Northside is a celebration of being in a city and we use the city to build the festival instead of trying to be in a grassy knoll,” said Dana Keith. “We’re trying to say this is where you live and this is where a lot of this creative energy is coming from.”

The Felice Brothers with Conor Oberst and Kasey Musgraves in McCarren Park (N. 12th Street at Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, www.northsidefestival.com). June 11 at 6:30 pm. $35.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Surf and turf: Hipsters by the thousand will take over the McCarren Park in Williamsburg for the Northside Festival from June 9–12.
Northside Festival