by Daniel Colussi | It’s a long way from Victoria, BC to Austin, Texas, especially if you’re going there to photograph/hang out with Bill Callahan. Callahan, who previously called himself Smog and has released over a dozen albums of brilliant (if oftentimes bleak) albums. He is a sort of towering figure in modern American music and he’s got a rep for being, um, somewhat elusive; press shy; not totally forthcoming to the world at large. So it was a complete shot in the dark when local photographer Chris Taylor wrote to Callahan and proposed the idea of taking photos of and around him at his Lone Star home, and definitely something of a shock when Callahan assented. It was agreed that in the Fall of 2008, Taylor would fly down and spend a month with Callahan as he finished work on his 2009 release, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle.
The resultant book – The Life And Times Of William Callahan – performs a tricky balancing act: it gives intimate access to Callahan, but avoids being an exposé. It’s a study of Callahan as a musician and artist and a look at his Austin milieu. We see Callahan playing guitar or lounging in his backyard, but just as intriguing are the photos that don’t feature him – shots of his semi-empty house, and of the trees and alleys of his neighbourhood. This book was long in the making and a labour of love for Taylor, and it’s turned out to be well worth the effort. It’s been beautifully printed in an edition of 500 by Hassla Projects.
On March 15th, Gastown’s Old Faithful (320 W. Cordova) and Chris Taylor will host an exhibition of the photos and the book’s official launch party, which will run from 7pm until 11pm.
Daniel Colussi is the Music Editor of Scout Magazine and a contributing writer to Ion Magazine. A veteran employee of Zulu Records and tuneage aficionado, he DJs on an infrequent basis (about four times a year) and is a musician around town who plays in several ensembles.