Fri., Jan. 17 at 7 pm
Critically-acclaimed songwriter and Americana folk icon Will Oldham is headed to Pittsburgh this January for a trifecta of events highlighting his distinct artistry at The Rangos, Harris Theater, and White Whale Bookstore. Performing as himself, Palace Brothers, or Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Oldham has released more than twenty studio albums, along with EPs, singles, and music for film and television. This series of events gives Pittsburghers the opportunity to experience his do-it-yourself aesthetic in song, film, and verse.
At The Rangos, Oldham will introduce the new 4K restoration of the 1987 historic drama Matewan. In the film, a labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company.
Written and directed by John Sayles, Matewan recounts the true story of a West Virginia coal town where the local miners’ struggle to form a union rose to the pitch of all-out war in 1920. When Matewan’s miners go on strike, organizer Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper, in his film debut) arrives to help them, uniting workers white and black, Appalachia-born and immigrant, while urging patience in the face of the coal company’s violent provocations. With a crackerjack ensemble cast—including James Earl Jones, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, and Will Oldham—and Oscar-nominated cinematography by Haskell Wexler, Matewan taps into a rich vein of Americana with painstaking attention to local texture, issuing an impassioned cry for justice that still resounds today.
Bill O’Driscoll, arts and culture reporter at 90.5 WESA, will conduct a Q&A with Oldham after the film.
Sat., Jan. 18
White Whale Bookstore is delighted to announce an evening of song and conversation with Oldham. He will discuss and read from his collection of lyrics, Songs of Love and Horror, as well as play a few select songs and sign copies of his book.
Spanning the full arc of his career, Songs of Love and Horror serves as a timely retrospective of Oldham’s songwriting. Throughout the book, Oldham has annotated the songs, providing his personal spin and reflection on the work, and showcasing a songwriting and literary presence that is both candid and wise. Emotionally riveting, intelligent, and warm, Songs of Love and Horror is a spectacular portrait of an artist who has captured poetry in music to say what we can’t say otherwise. This volume preserves an extraordinary body of work that will dazzle longtime fans and new listeners alike.
Visit White Whale’s website for more information.
Sat., Jan. 18
At Harris Theater, Oldham will present the rebellious stoner comedy Beach Bum, starring Matthew McConaughey and written and directed by Harmony Korine. The screening will kick off with a short video directed by Korine for Oldham’s song, “No More Workhorse Blues.”
In Beach Bum, McConaughey plays Moondog a fun-loving, pot-smoking, beer-drinking writer who lives life on his own terms in Florida. Luckily, his wife Minnie loves him for exactly those qualities. A tragic accident brings unexpected changes to Moondog's relaxed lifestyle. Suddenly, putting his literary talent to good use and finishing the next great American novel is a more pressing matter than he would have liked it to be.
Photo by Mickie Winters