This past Monday, Don Quixote’s in Felton was lucky enough to host the one and only Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy on his latest tour off the beaten path. As with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Bonnie was joined by The Cairo Gang, and they sound like they have been playing together forever. The guitarist, Emmett Kelly, was particularly at home and brought some amazing Crazy Horse solos. Bonnie’s voice sounded better than ever in the small, well-equipped room. I never thought he would remind me of Van Morrison, but he did…there I said it.
Mr. Billy was visually arresting as well, all in white except for pink fingernail polish and orange socks. He spent a lot of time on one leg, flamingo style. He even played kazoo. There were a slew of new songs and several delicious encores, including “A Minor Place,” “New Partner,” “Ohio River Boat Song” and a touching cover of Merle Haggard’s obscure “Because of Your Eyes.” Apparently Merle, who missed the recent Bridge School shows, has been suffering with a respiratory infection, and Bonnie asks everyone to send powerful health wishes out to Hag. He also suggested that everyone’s finger should smell like someone else’s crotch by the song’s end.
Local outfit Big Eagle had the honor of opening for the Prince. Singer Robyn Miller fronted The Peels earlier this decade and now returns with something completely different. Much of her new record, Willow Creek, was recorded at Oakland’s Tuff Shed Studios with Bart Davenport. The songs are a folksy, stripped-down return to her Humboldt County roots. She has a powerful voice that brings to mind equal parts Karen Dalton and Jesse Sykes. Watch out for more from Ms. Miller.