Bill Callahan is a singer-songwriter known for a decades-long career making music that is interesting both sonically and lyrically. He is playing the Rose Bowl Tavern Tuesday, March 7th, with Pascal Kerong’A, a Congolese singer-songwriter. Both artists offer a relatively mellow, vibey experience that will likely leave you in a contemplative mood. It should be a refreshing, enriching, and perhaps even transformative Tuesday night experience.
You’ll hear music from Callahan’s new album, YTI⅃AƎЯ (2022), his 23rd. The Guardian reviewed the album in October and gave it four stars; it’s a good synopsis of what you can expect to hear.
I recently corresponded with Callahan about his year and his career. Our interview is below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Smile Politely: What in 2023 are you most excited about?
Bill Callahan: Making music. Exploring the possibilities. Learning to see the obvious.
SP: What are you listening to these days?
Callahan: Bill Evans, Merle Haggard.
SP: What has changed the most since you started making music? What changes excite you the most?
Callahan: The streaming thing really dismantled my worldview. It’s kinda cyborg-y. One of the tech developments that we didn’t need. That actually makes life less, not more.
And lots more bands these days. Harder to book tours because of it.
SP: Who are some artists/musicians/bands that are inspirational to you?
Callahan: Iggy Pop, Mary Margaret O’Hara.
SP: What are some unexpected influences and how have they manifested in your work?
Callahan: I can take in just about anything and get something out of it. Except a few corny pop stars — the Biebers, the Swifts. There’s nothing there.
SP: What do you find most rewarding and most frustrating about touring?
Callahan: Making something out of nothing. Frustrating is sometimes being a victim of your body. You want to do a good show but you’re so goddamn tired or have a sinus infection. Or the sound is bad on stage and you can’t figure out how to make it better, so you can’t let yourself go.
SP: What are some of your favorite festivals or venues?
Callahan: I don’t really have any favorite venues. Cropped Out is a good festival in Louisville but it’s on hiatus.
SP: Is there somewhere you haven’t played that you’d like to?
Callahan: I’d love to do tiny villages in Japan.
Bill Callahan with Pascal Kerong’A
Rose Bowl Tavern
106 N Race St
Tu Mar 7th, doors at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m.