Monday night, looking like a recovering gambling addict in white pants, a white zippered guayabera, and black sunglasses, Bonnie “Prince” Billy treated a couple hundred hushed listeners to an hour of no-frills folk at Radio-Active Records in Ft. Lauderdale. Taking down cans of Modelo Especial throughout his set, the Kentuckian shared the stage with helluva guitarist Emmett Kelly (aka The Cairo Gang) and singer Angel Olsen, whose deeply wronged voice and 1000-yard stare infused the informal, unmiked performance with an intensity that eludes description. For his part, the Prince (known among friends as Will Oldham) swung from bared-teeth ferocity to soft sincerity (“Plead and beg and plead and beg and …”) to casual curiosity (“Does anyone know much about the aquatic life around here?”) to preacherly urging (“Go folks! Go forth! Go folks! Trust your brain!”) in a free performance that deserved a bottomless tip jar.
BPB and company will play another gratis show — the last on their magnanimous Free Florida tour — Tuesday night at Sweat Records. As the videos below will confirm, you should definitely go. Make sure to check out our interview with Oldham to learn more about the man, the tour, and the way U.S. Customs deals with a vinyl smuggler.
“Ohio River Boat Song”