Bonnie “Prince” Billy: 7 February 2013 – New York (‘American Songbook’ Photos)

Bonnie "Prince" Billy captivated the Allen Room audience with a two-hour set.
Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Lincoln Center’s ‘American Songbook’ series places artists on a unique stage overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park South (59th Street) for an intimate musical performance. We gave you an overview of the entire 2013 series earlier and our writer Christian John Wikane reviewed Valerie Simpson since, but we’d like to give you a glimpse inside the venue with pictures from Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s performance on the 7th of February, his setlist and some words he wrote for the ‘American Songbook’ series program notes:

The holidays can be a hard time. There was a scare this past holiday season that had many of us entertaining the idea that a world, the world, might end; as far as we can tell, it has not ended. Did anyone else feel, though, a resetting of something? How much must we keep up with times? There are not “the times,” there are times. All our hopes of endings were put off for another day.

In preparing for this show, I turned to June Tabor and her recording of the song “The Banks of Red Roses.” And then to Lizzie Higgins’s, and to De Danann’s, and to Sarah Makem’s recordings of the song. And to a cassette tape of Bo Diddley. I approach playing alone on stage with trepidation, because my motivation in this pursuit of performing music for a living came from the need to figure out a way to require communion and socialization, and I’ve always been a bird-in-the-hand person—it must be immediate and visible and tangible—and the musicians we collude with are all of those things. Now, though, I can collude with concepts and memories, and bet on something: that an audience will be in the room, and the audience has become what I wanted it to be: community and even collaborator. Because I align myself with other listeners, and can listen to Sarah Makem and know that I am one of a particular audience, and I can find an equivalent particularity in you.

Tonight I will sing and try to speak. There are songs I may never be able to perform without others, and there are songs that I can’t get back to, because their existence depended on a lack of fluency that should not be pretended after years of playing. It’s something, an honor among other things, to be here tonight. Thank you for being here. Sing with me.

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Setlist: (Accessible here; Guests included Matt Sweeney on guitar and Ryan McNair on melodica.)

Bed is for Sleeping

Little Boy Blue (Bobby “Blue” Bland)

Gone Girl (Cowboy Jack Clement)

May It Always Be

Lift Us Up

I Called You Back

Get on Jolly 1/New Partner

A Minor Place

Quail and Dumplings

Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a Dead End Street) (Hal Blair and Don Robertson)

The Banks of Red Roses (Traditional)

Big Friday

Time to Be Clear

The Brute Choir

New Whaling

Death to Everyone

Floozy Song

Just Little Boy Blue (Jimmie Fox)

How About Thank You

The Risen Lord (Text by D.H. Lawrence)

Love Comes to Me

Cursed Sleep

You Will Miss Me When I Burn

(holding up a photo of him with Connie Britton)

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