Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bonnie Prince Billy- The Department of Safety- 11/9/06

It's a rare opportunity to see one of the more important voices in modern folk music in a venue as intimate as Anacortes, Washington's Department of Safety. So it didn't matter that I wasn't feeling well and had to work early the next morning, I went, job performance be damned. Anacortes being the home to several artists from the Olympia-based experimental pop collective K Records, D+ (Mount Eerie/The Microphones' Phil Elvrum, Karl Blau and Bret Lunsford) opened, which made the evening even more special. And let me tell you, the day after the Democrats took control of Congress in Anacortes is like Mardi Gras - the place makes Bellingham look like Bellevue. When BPB (Will Oldham, to the layman) finally took stage, every set of eyes in the room was transfixed. Oldham's voice is an instrument that bears many adjectives, none of which come close to truly encapsulating it. At once weary and strong; warm, yet eerie; inviting and timeless. With it he charged through more upbeat, epic versions of material that comes across more gently in the studio. (Get ahold of a copy of live album Summer In The Southeast for an idea.) "Strange Form of Life," from this year's The Letting Go, a powerfully bitter "Master And Everyone" from 2003's album of the same name and a stunning cover of The Grateful Dead's "Brokedown Palace" were highlights. Oldham truly has is the next logical step in American folk music, singing about the morbid, beautiful and sorrowful under the guise of American folk troubadours like Guthrie and Dylan, but with a honkeytonk bar band behind him.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy- Master And Everyone from 2003's Master And Everyone

Bonnie "Prince" Billy- Brokedown Palace (Grateful Dead cover)
from 2004's tour only EP with Brightblack, Pebbles and Ripples

Note: he doesn't have devil eyes in real life. Just a little eyeliner.


At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, man. Sadly though, K records is based in Olympia, not Anacortes, despite the existence of a close bond between the two music communities. Perhaps you were referring to KNW-YR-OWN, an equally fantastic though lesser-known label based here in Anacortes?

At 9:07 PM, Blogger Caleb said...

Silly me. Corrected.


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