bill callahan at arts centre melbourne (4 march, 2020)

Singer-songwriter and former Smog frontman Bill Callahan and his four-piece band return to Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on 4 March 2020 with songs from his profound new album Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest.

Recording under the names Smog and Bill Callahan, he has produced 16 albums with Chicago indie label Drag City and garnered an impressive cult following. His 2013 release Dream River was critically acclaimed, cementing his already solid reputation as a brilliant songwriter and singer.

Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest, his first record since 2013, continues his accomplished music career with 20 songs that trace different lifelines. Major life changes including marriage and the birth of his child have informed the shape of this new album as well as the experience of suddenly finding it harder to find the place that his songs came from.

His songs have always been elusive, landing lightly between character study and autobiography. Characterised by his rich baritone voice, deadpan delivery, and dry observations, Callahan’s music is beautifully intense, understated and profound. But this was more than that. While sorting it all out, he worked on songs every day – which meant that for a while, there were lots of days simply confronting the void, as he measured this new life against the one he’d previously known.

Moving gradually from reflections upon the old days in ‘Ballad of The Hulk’ and ‘Young Icarus’ to the immediacy of the present moment in ‘Watching Me Get Married’ and ‘Son of the Sea’, Callahan traces the different lifelines, casually unwinding knotty contradictions and ambiguities with an arresting stillness.

Callahan was last in Australia in 2017 with his guitarist Matt Kinsey for Vivid Festival and an exclusive residency at Melbourne venue, Howler. These intimate shows were a stark contrast to the grandeur of his 2015 visit with Australian performances at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall and Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall.

Callahan will be supported by special guest Xylouris White, with Georgios Xylouris on Cretan laouto and vocals and Jim White on the drum kit. Xylouris has been playing professionally since he was 12-years-old. White is an Australian drummer known for his music in the Dirty Three, Venom P Stinger and now Xylouris White. For the last four years, the two men have been performing as Xylouris White, the culmination of 25 years of friendship forged through music and place.

Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Bill Callahan
Special guest Xylouris White
4 March 2020
8 pm
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Bookings at 
artscentremelbourne.com.au or 1300 182 183