Nick Cave Credit: Tino Vacca

Nick Cave has taken many twists and turns during his decades-long career. Though the iconic singer-songwriter is first and foremost known for his music, he’s also delved into acting, theater, novels, poetry, and film scores. His latest venture is possibly his most startling and profound deviation yet: ol’ Nick the Stripper now runs a blog called the Red Hand Files where he publicly answers fan mail. He might discuss the sound of God’s voice, field requests from blocked-up songwriters for “spare lyrics lying around,” or reply to heartfelt questions about sexuality, addiction, and the creative process. He’s become a sort of countercultural counselor, and beyond addressing his readers’ issues, he’s been very open about the way that his entire sense of self was ripped apart and re-created following the accidental death of his teenage son, Arthur, in 2015. During that time, Cave was in the midst of writing The Skeleton Tree, his 16th studio album with his band the Bad Seeds. When they began recording in 2016, he commissioned filmmaker Andrew Dominik to document their process, in part to answer the public’s questions about the music and his grief without subjecting himself to a barrage of interviews upon its release. The album and the resulting film, One More Time With Feeling, are stark testaments to the hollowing, mask-stripping effects of sudden loss. For the past year, Cave has been taking the intimate Q&A format of his blog on the road. In programs he’s calling Conversations With Nick Cave: An Evening of Talk & Music, the songwriter answers questions, takes song requests (which he plays on piano), and generally puts himself out there with a straightforwardness and vulnerability that most other artists who’ve made those qualities their stock-in-trade would be loathe to do. And though Cave is unafraid to confront serious issues, these performances also highlight a quality that’s been underrated over the years: his sense of humor.   v