Simone Felice is a multi-talented artist whose literate, artful, and passionate songs have been informed by a life full of unpredictable drama. Simone was born on October 4, 1976 in Palenville, a small working-class town in upstate New York near the Catskill Mountains. Felice's life was first marked as something out of the ordinary when he was 12; young Simone suffered a brain aneurysm that kept him in a hospital for two months as he slowly recovered his basic motor skills and learned once again how to read and write. By the time he was 15, Felice had developed an interest in music, playing in an experimental punk rock band with his friends. As the group's lyricist, Felice learned to spin improbable stories which led to his initial experiments with poetry. In 2000, Felice published his first book, a collection of verse called The Picture Show, and was soon publishing short stories. However, as his literary career was on the rise, Felice's interest in music also took a step forward; Simone and his brother Ian Felice began writing songs together, and made rough recordings of their work with friend and bassist Doc Brown. Eventually another brother, James Felice, joined the group on accordion, and with Ian on lead vocals and guitar and Simone on drums, they adopted the name the Felice Brothers and self-released their debut album, Through These Reins and Gone, in 2006.
Between 2007 and 2009, the Felice Brothers released three albums and toured extensively, gaining a reputation as one of the best and most original groups on the Americana scene, and Simone received his due as one of the group's most gifted lyricists. In 2008, Simone took a busman's holiday and played drums with the Avett Brothers on their album I and Love and You, but the Felice Brothers went on hiatus in early 2009 as Simone and his wife were anticipating the birth of their first baby. When the couple lost the child to a miscarriage, Simone retreated into songwriting with his friend Robert "Chicken" Burke, and they formed a duo called the Duke & the King (named for two characters in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), recording their debut album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, which was released by the year's end. In 2010, Felice went into the hospital after a series of fainting spells, and discovered that an undiagnosed congenital heart condition left him with severe arterial blockage and required immediate surgery. Despite a second brush with death, Simone enjoyed a full recovery and had a prolific 2011 -- he released a self-titled second album with the Duke & the King, the Felice Brothers reunited for the album Celebration, Florida, and Simone published his first novel, Black Jesus. Not long after his heart surgery, Felice and his spouse welcomed a healthy baby daughter, and inspired in part by fatherhood, he began writing songs for what became his self-titled debut album, which was released in 2012. In the spring of 2014, Felice returned with his second solo effort, Strangers, which included contributions from Ian and James Felice, Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers, and Leah Siegel. ~ Mark Deming