B i o g r a p h y
Sweet Felony is one of San Francisco’s best country rock bands, known for their commanding live performances and impressive original songs. On Worn In Shoes, their long awaited debut, the band delivers expansive performances of the tunes that have been winning them a fervid local following. “I wrote the songs I sing on this album in a frenzy of creativity, “ says Christa DiBiase, the band’s founder and one of Sweet Felony’s three lead singers. “In the past year, we’ve added some Americana twang to our basic sound, as well as a taste of Latin and a rock edge that’s hard, without being metal. We’ve started approaching all kinds of relationships, not just romantic boy/girl songs. The tunes are still heartfelt, but they rock too.”
Worn In Shoes is the result of a year of evolution and shifting personnel. Founder member Amanda Guilbeaux left to pursue other projects and multi-instrumentalist Hugh Caley joined the fold. He did some backing vocals as well as playing mandolin, slide guitar, synthesizer and guitar on the album.
New drummer Bruce Ducheneaux added his talents to the work of long time members Mike Ingram (Texas Manglers, Pegi Young) on lead guitar and Carl Horne (Zen Guerrilla) on bass. The band spent months honing the sound of the album, cutting the songs live in the studio to capture their dynamic on stage presence. Everyone contributed to the arrangements and production, with Phil Manley at Lucky Cat Studios adding his engineering expertise.
The album opens with “Cry of the Loon,” a tough, but tender, ecological ballad with a solid backbeat. DiBaise delivers a sorrowful lead vocal, lamenting the near extinction of a magnificent bird, complimented by Caley’s haunting slide guitar and Ingram’s icy lead fills. DiBaise supplied overdubbed harmonies to her lead vocal on “Bottle,” an energetic honky tonk stomp. The band peels out on “The Chase,” a bluesy Texas-style rocker by Ingram. A tongue twisting lyric and Caley’s out of control slide sends the tune into overdrive. The band’s impression of Hendrix gone country makes Horne’s “What Was Given” one of the record’s most exceptional tracks. Tough power chords, Ducheneaux’s potent drumming, Horme’s relentless bass and Caley’s distorted lead work give the track a dense, relentless feel.
Sweet Felony is also contributing an original song to a film by director Alexander Kreher. “My cousin Zoe Romano is having a movie made about her,” DiBaise explains. “She’s run across the United States and she’s the first person ever to run the entire route of the Tour de France. We wrote a song called ‘Run Zoe Run’ that will be in the film. You can hear it on my Soundcloud page:soundcloud.com/alexander-kreher/run-zoe-run-christa-dibiase.”
On stage, the band’s three lead vocalists – DiBaise, Ingram and Horne - and their triple guitar attack, produce a jubilant wall of sound that quickly pulls listeners into their music. “Our songs come from the heart,” DiBiase explains. “They helped us through some difficult times. We put a lot of passion into our singing in hopes that the audience can share our feelings.” The band will support the release of Worn In Shoes with local gigs before launching a national tour this summer. They’re already working on tunes for their next album.
Sweet Felony is:
Rhythm Guitar / Lead and Backing Vocals / Songwriter
Lead Guitar / Songwriter / Lead Vocal an “Point Arena” and “Chase”
Bass / Lead Vocal on “Wake” And “What” Was Given / Songwriter
Slide Guitar / Mandolin / Synth / Backing Vocals / Guitar
Bruce Ducheneaux - Drums
Christa DiBiase was born and raised in a large Italian family in Portland, Maine. “Everyone was musical,” DiBiase recalls. “Both grandfathers played accordion and piano, my dad would get us dancing to the sounds of The Beatles, Elvis and Deep Purple and my brothers and sisters all play instruments. I played flute until junior high, when a girlfriend asked me to play drums in her band.” She discovered she had a natural affinity for the drum kit and, after moving to San Francisco, played with Girlband and the celebrated drum/guitar duo Sassy, with Lynda Mandolyn. “After playing drums for 15 years, I picked up the guitar and started writing songs. It came naturally. I love holding down the rhythm on my electric guitar, although I’m a better songwriter than guitarist.”
Hugh Caley comes from Lapeer, Michican and began his musical career dancing around his parent’s home in diapers and a Beatle wig. He learned to read music singing in the church choir, but after hearing George Harrison’s lead on “Nowhere Man,” he knew he had to play guitar. He took a few piano and guitar lessons in grammar school, but is mostly self-taught. “I lived in a rural area, so I taught myself guitar, bass, lap steel, keyboards, drums and mandolin so I could record the songs I was writing.” He’s made recordings as Plasmabat since 1987 and played in Loomer, a shoegaze band, during the 90s. He joined Sweet Felony in 2013.
Bruce Ducheneaux sold his horse and cow and moved to San Francisco from South Dakota in the ‘80s. He’s played drums in Assassins of God, Gary Floyd, Bomb and Way Cross and guitar with Spoke Poker. He started playing drums for Sweet Felony in November of 2013.
Carl Horne played a variety of instruments in his high school band before he discovered the guitar. He taught himself to play on a hand-me-down guitar his dad gave him. He studied music theory in college, where he met Rich Millman and Pete Martin, his bandmates in Zen Guerrilla. He started playing bass in that band and joined Sweet Felony just before they began recording their debut album, Split Ends Mend.
Mike Ingarm was born on Corn Island in Nicaragua. He comes from a musical family and always admired the way his grandfather played guitar.
He left home during the Sandinista war and crossed over into Brownsville, Texas where he finished high school. He was deeply influenced by the calypso he heard growing up, Texas country music and the blues. He’s a self-taught musician, who plays excellent guitar and bass. Before joining Sweet Felony, he played bass in the Texas Manglers, Pegi Young’s backing band.