Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Begushkin | The Vic | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Begushkin Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., March 14, 7:30 p.m. 2009

Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy, has never cared for publicity—in a January New Yorker feature, Kelefa Sanneh wrote, “He intends to promote [his new] album with singles, a photo shoot, and a handful of interviews, if only to prove that record promotion doesn’t really work, at least not for him.” Oldham has attracted a devoted following anyway—he adopted his current stage name to help establish a psychological distance between himself and his lyrics, which many of his fans like to read as autobiography. His beginnings as Palace Brothers were auspicious, if slightly rickety, and his music has grown in leaps and bounds since. Like Dylan he regularly reshuffles the personnel of his bands and the arrangements of his songs and rarely plays much material from his current record on tour. All this makes him hard to peg, and that’s a wonderful thing. Beware (Drag City), which comes out this week, rates among his best albums; his voice, which seems to get stronger on every release, inhabits the lush, elaborate arrangements with incredible assurance and warmth, even when his lyrics tilt toward enigmatic playfulness or emotional ambivalence. He’s backed on Beware by an ensemble heavy with players from the Chicago rock and jazz scenes, and his excellent road combo includes guitarist Emmett Kelly, bassist Josh Abrams, drummer Jim White, and violinist Cheyenne Mize. Begushkin opens. —Peter Margasak

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