The enigmatic singer-songwriter who performs under the name Bonnie “Prince” Billy and acts in films as Will Oldham has announced 2023-2024 tour dates. Beginning in mid-October and including multi-night runs in New York and Philadelphia, the tour will bring Oldham to the Sunshine State with a stop at Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville on January 18.
“If you’re in Florida we envy you—for once!” reads a flippant post on the Instagram account of Drag City Records — the artist’s current label — announcing the tour, which called Florida “the land of perpetual summer, the occasional flurry of hurricanes and now Bonnie “Prince” Billy?”
Good-natured needling aside, among the legions of “Prince” Billy’s cult-like following, certainly there are many residing in and around Jacksonville.
Oldham first embarked on his two career paths — actor and musician — in the mid-’90s, spending time between Bloomington, Indiana, New York City and the film industry hub of Los Angeles. After a stint with the ever-morphing collective varyingly named Palace, Palace Music, Palace Brothers and Palace Songs, in 1999 Oldham began releasing music under the moniker Bonnie “Prince” Billy, drawing on punk and folk minimalism and bent toward literary and conceptual-art modes to craft richly austere songs rooted in American-roots traditions. As a prolific songcrafter, Oldham has been compared to Charley Patton and Tom Waits, among other icons of folk music.
On his way to becoming one of the country’s most beloved underground troubadours, Oldham has collaborated with a laundry list of artists, including in recent years Matt Sweeney of Superwolves and lo-fi singer-songwriter Bill Callahan. His latest, 2023’s Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You, is a 12-song collection of homespun tales that are equally spare and peculiar.
It’s worth mentioning that the late Tib Miller laid the groundwork for Oldham’s visit to Jacksonville. The beloved impresario behind Flying Saucer Presents was a longtime fan of Oldham’s. Last year, when I told Miller I’d just recently seen Oldham play behind a brewery in Kittery, Maine, Miller told me he was working on bringing Oldham to Jax in 2023 or 2024. “Bonnie Prince Billy is so great,” Miller texted. “Not sure anyone knows him [in Jacksonville] except you and me.”
Bonnie “Prince” Billy plays the Bier Hall inside Intuition Ale Works on Thursday, January 18 and Miller is sure to be there in spirit. You should come too. Tickets here.