See Bill Callahan Friday night on the Lawrence Public Library lawn
It’s fitting that Bill Callahan should do a library gig. The artist formerly known as Smog is one of the most interesting lyricists of the past 20 years. Like the great literary minimalists, Callahan carries a simple toolbox — a wooden baritone, straightforward language, naturalist scenes, a guitar — with which he carves out spectacular beauty. I started out in search of ordinary things / How much of a tree bends in the wind / I started telling the story without knowing the end, he tells us on “Jim Cain,” a song that was technically released in 2009 but is ultimately so timeless it seems to exist on another plane of music and consciousness. (His latest, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, arrived in early June.) Despite his brilliance, Callahan tends to float beneath the mainstream, bobbing up every now and again when more popular artists acknowledge his contributions (the title of last year’s Netflix documentary hit Wild, Wild Country nods to a line from Callahan’s 2011 song “Drover”) and quietly touring — sometimes solo, sometimes with a small band, and not all that often around these parts. All of which to say: Callahan playing a free, outdoor show on the lovely Lawrence library lawn is a special treat you’ll not want to miss.
Lawrence Public Library Lawn, 707 Vermont
Friday, July 5