''What's the use you learning to do right, when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong and the wages is just the same.''Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chapter. 16.
It was inevitable that Jim and Huckleberry Finn would meet at least one or two charlatans. But two together? The two grafters, drifters from all around, were known simply as The Duke and The King. One was youngish, around thirty, the other much older around seventy. The Duke, of Bridgewater, proclaimed himself his father's rightful successor and The King claimed - why wouldn’t you know it - himself the rightful King of France. Aboard the make-shift raft Jim and Finn assembled, one pair leads the other into trouble, scheming their way down the Mississippi.
But no one's scheming here.
The Duke & the King draw their nom de plume from two characters in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and they derive much of the downbeat tone of their debut, Nothing Gold Can Stay, from Simone Felice's recent, not-entirely-amicable departure from the Felice Brothers.
Before launching into “Union Street” at The Basement Monday night, Simone Felice of the Duke and the King said the song recalled a time when Genesis and Cyndi Lauper ruled his headphones.
The tune, which is off the band’s new album Nothing Gold Can Stay, revisits the singer’s first romance with rock ‘n’ roll –and everything that goes with it. On the streets of Brooklyn, the young Felice craves MTV, pops pills and perhaps gets fresh with a friend’s drug-addicted mom. Ah, sweet bird of youth.
Erstwhile Felice Brothers Drummer/Vocalist Simon Felice, along with new cohort Robert ‘Chicken’ Burke have mined a rich vein of American storytelling for their debut album. (Their Moniker comes from some troublemaking Mark Twain characters).
The Duke & The King had their record release show at NYC's Mercury Lounge on Tuesday night for their new album "Nothing Gold Can Stay". The band is centered around the duo of Robert "Chicken" Burke and Simone Felice (of the Felice Brothers) and was filled out with simple instrumentation of violin, bass and a sometimes drummer/singer in a Wu-Tang T-Shirt (The Deacon). Simone and the Chicken traded off leading songs on guitar, harmonizing and playing the drums at an informal pace, feeling out which song would be played next in an intuitive, democratic manner.
Fans of American lit know the Duke and the King as the conniving scoundrels from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.’’ Fans of indie music will soon know the Duke & the King as the brilliant new pairing of Simone Felice and Robert Burke, whose “Nothing Gold Can Stay’’ is out next week just after their tour starts.
The Duke and the King are best known for conning and manipulating their way downriver with Huck and Jim in Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the duo has inspired Simone Felice’s (yes, of those Felices) new folk outfit The Duke & The King.
This new indie-roots duo takes its name from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," its album title from a Robert Frost poem, and its sound from early-'70s folkies such as Cat Stevens and Neil Young. As you might expect, there isn't much about "Nothing Gold Can Stay," the Duke & the King's debut, that suggests it was made during this century.