Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy preps art book/10-inch with painter Ashley Macomber, because three 10-inches in one year is not enough

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy preps art book/10-inch with painter Ashley Macomber, because three 10-inches in one year is not enough

As a sort of massively public dress rehearsal for his Florida shows last week, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang played a free show at Millennium Park in Chicago last Monday, and I, [faceless TMT laborer], was there to witness it. Stuffed with sandwich and Guinness after the opening act, I stretched out on the lawn, ready to take in some ‘Prince’ classics live for the very first time. Further down on the lawn, a shirtless man was standing and doing one of those ‘my hands move all around this crystal ball, yet it remains stationary’ tricks that you see advertised on a TV display while waiting in line at Walgreens, but his attempts to dampen my enthusiasm were not going to work. The familiar pluckings of “Troublesome Houses” filled the park, and I knew this show was going to be a treat.

And then I didn’t recognize a single song ‘til the encore! Damn, Billy! I own 10 full-length albums of yours, and that whole setlist stumped me. You could have played a song by your backup singer and I would’ve had a firmer grip on things. Just goes to show that it’s impossible to keep up with even your most-treasured artists and it only makes sense to admit defeat and let pre-programmed radio playlists dictate our tastes.

If you’re still fighting the fight to be familiar with each and every Bonnie Billy song, you’re going to need to bust open your sister’s piggy bank on the sly pretty soon, because on top of the three BPB 10-inch singles that have been/are going to be released this year, a deluxier 10-inch is on the assembly line right now! This one is called Afternoon and comes paired with a book of paintings by Ashley Macomber; the songs are meant to mix with the paintings like wine and cheese, or like outdoor concerts and self-motivated magicians. Limited to 1000 copies and released by Black Tent Press, Afternoon is conceptually based on the Mallarmé poem “L’apres midi d’un faune,” written in 1865 — a year when no one could have dreamed that a crystal ball could be held stationary while hands glided across it. The poem was originally put to music by Claude Debussy, and now the baton is passed to Will Oldham. All you Mallarmé freaks can preorder the record right here and also preview some of Macomber’s art.

Afternoon tracklisting:

A. I Am a Floozy
B. Remember the Terror Time

More Bonnie + Cairo Gang dates:

07.15.11 - Saint Johns, NL - Cochrane Street United Church
07.22.11 - Calgary, AB - Calgary Folk Festival
09.27.11 - Nelsonville, OH - Stuart’s Opera House
09.30.11 - Asbury Park, NJ - ATP
10.02.11 - Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere
10.04.11 - Knoxville, TN - Bijou Theatre

• Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy:
• Ashley Macomber:
• Black Tent Press:

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