Friday night we went to see Will Oldham play at an art gallery in Baltimore. It was sold out, sadly, so we hung around outside the door to listen to a song or two while Amy practiced her cigarette-rolling skills. Oldham lives in Baltimore now, so I should get another chance to see him. From everything I’ve heard (and the one show I’ve seen, opening for Quebocois art-school favorites Godspeed You Black Emperor!), Oldham’s not much of a live performer, cultivating a chilly distance from the crowd, but there’s always the lure of hearing a new song (or one from his extensive back catalog that I’m not familiar with). Oldham — who has recorded under his own name, as well as Palace Music and Bonnie Prince Billy (and he’s used other names, though I’ve never seen him billed as Push) — is a oldy-timey folksinger; if I had to, I’d place him in the Richard Thompson axis, but I don’t enough about folk music to identify his fellow mappers of depressing, faux-Appalachian psychic landscapes. There must be some. (Although I doubt there are any who have recorded with professors at my alma mater; I also doubt many of them have appeared in movies alongside James Earl Jones. Oldham has had an odd career.) For newcomers to Oldham’s music, I recommend Viva Last Blues or his painfully somber "I See a Darkness"; Johnny Cash‘s cover of "I See a Darkness" may have been my favorite single song from last year. Cash is at the end of his career and his voice is giving out, but that song just takes my breath away.