The quality of his music is certainly one of the reasons I’m a Will Oldham fan, but it’s definitely not the only one or even necessarily the most important. Even if I didn’t like his records I’d probably still like the experience of watching a guy who’s obviously possessed of (by?) crazy-eyed genius plot his own singular and surprising path through the world. He keeps you on your toes.
Case in point: Yesterday, with nary a shred of advance promotion, Oldham unveiled a new project named the Babblers via a live performance in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That in and of itself was pretty unexpected, but the group’s whiplash-inducing vacillation between Bonnie “Prince” Billy archaeo-country and Kill Rock Stars art-punk is genuinely strange in a way I’ve come to associate with Oldham in particular. And the band’s uniform of sunglasses and camo fleece jumpsuits is the cherry on top.
Chattanooga’s Chattarati blog has video from the show, as well as a brief and only barely helpful interview with Oldham. He says the band’s touring, but he doesn’t give any locations more specific than “west.” No word yet on a Chicago show, so watch this space for updates.