Maybe it’s the oblique, esoteric nature of his lyrics, his endless references to the natural world, or his enduring commitment to sparse, lo-fi recording equipment, but there is definitely something about Bill Callahan that gives him a shamanistic aura. When the singer-songwriter performs — either under his own name, or his alter ego, Smog — his austere, blanketed ballads feel like some kind of mystical truth serum for the audience. He can transport you to a heavily-wooded forest, far from any sort of civilization, the minute he strums his guitar and bares his unhurried, tranquil voice.
In short, he’s a peyote experience, minus the mind-bending hallucinatory effects.
Next month, Callahan will embark on a mini-tour (coordinated by Folk Yeah!) through Northern California, visiting venues that seem ideal for his hushed, arboreal sensibilities. He’s starting with a performance at Don Quixote’s Music Hall in Santa Cruz on February 1, before moving up the coast to the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley the next day. On February 3, he’ll venture out to gold country before wrapping up his four-date jaunt at Starline Social Club in Oakland on February 4.
While Callahan isn’t an infrequent performer, he has a pretty frosty relationship with the media, and it always feels like his latest tour could be his last. He hasn’t released an album of original songs since 2013’s Dream River, so his upcoming performances could feature his deep catalog of past recordings, or perhaps give a peek into some new, upcoming material.
The wide possibilities of his set list, combined with the somewhat unconventional locales, should make this mini-tour by Callahan particularly memorable.
Starline Social Club
February 4, 2017