Artist of the Week: Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, real name Will Oldham, who has also recorded under various umbrellas of the word Palace (Palace Brothers, Palace Songs and Palace Music), is about as prolific a songwriter as there is today. In fact, you could say Billy is a bit like Stephen King in that respect, in that he simply can not stop writing hits
With 16 albums under his belt since 1993, mostly under the Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy handle, and a new one set to drop on March 17th, called Beware, it’s hard to figure out why more people don’t know about Billy. His lyrics are always literate, the music is always solid, and the venerable guy has the art of songcraft nailed down tight. Credibility is not an issue, either – are people just afraid of the beard?

Beware is dinner-on-the-ground music, for real, with an atmosphere of honesty that  hearkens back to a simpler time and place. You know, sometimes a brother needs a  break from all those synthesizers and Auto-Tune, and Beware is just what the doctor ordered.

When a man writes as many songs as Billy does, over such a long period of time, it’s hard not to become attached to the style, and that style is present throughout Beware. Some may think of it as Americana, or Alt-Country, and there is definitely evidence to warrant both of those  those labels, but it would be criminal to affix one front and center. There is a little bit of everything on Beware, which actually bolsters the whole ‘Americana’ argument, if you agree that a definition of ‘Americana’ music should include characteristics of multiple and vastly different American musical styles. If so, then you might be able to put Billy under that heading, though I doubt he’d like it. Think of it more as a reference point, versus a way of life.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy has a full house of shows lined up,  so those of us waiting for our first live encounter can now remedy the situation. Be sure to listen to him all week on BTR!

Live

Monday, March 16 – Des Moines, IA, Vaudeville Mews
Tuesday, March 17 – Iowa City, IA, The Picador
Wednesday, March 18 – Milwaukee, WI, Turner Hall
Thursday, March 19 – Minneapolis, MN, The McGuire Theater (Walker)
Saturday, March 21 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada, Pyramid Cabaret
Sunday, March 22 – Saskatoon, SK, Canada, Broadway Theatre
Monday, March 23 – Edmonton, AB, Canada, McDougall United Church
Tuesday, March 24 – Calgary, AB, Canada, MacEwan Hall
Wednesday, March 25 – Vancouver, BC, Canada, The Vogue Theatre
Thursday, March 26 – Seattle, WA, Moore Theatre
Friday, March 27 – Portland, OR, Crystal Ballroom
Sunday, March 29 – Sonoma, CA, Sonoma County Historic Church
Monday, March 30 – San Francisco, CA, The Fillmore
Thursday, April 2 – Los Angeles, CA, El Rey Theatre
Saturday, April 4 – Santa Fe, NM, Santa Fe Brewing Co.
Sunday, April 5 – Denver, CO, The Bluebird Theater
Tuesday, April 7 – Lawrence, KS, The Granada
Thursday, April 9 – Omaha, NE, The Waiting Room
Friday, April 10 – St. Louis, MO, The Pageant
Saturday, April 11 – Indianapolis, IN, The Vogue
April 20 – London, Royal Festival Hall
April 22 – Brussels, Ancienne Belgique
April 23 – Amsterdam, Paradiso
Thursday, May 21 – New York, NY, Apollo Theater
Saturday, May 23 – Alexandria, VA, The Birchmere
Sunday, May 24 – Charlottesville, VA, Fry’s Spring Beach Club

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