Music » Livewire


With Feather and the Six Parts Seven. Saturday, August 6, at the Grog Shop.


Like Santiago, the grizzled fisherman in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Bill Callahan (aka Smog) spends much of his gripping 12th album exploring the notion that "a man can be destroyed, but not defeated." The songs on A River Ain't Too Much to Love are mostly spartan, acoustic-folk arrangements colored with bits of piano, violin, and brushed percussion. In them, nature has its way with Callahan's cast of characters: Murky rivers nearly drown them, and ever-present brambles scratch and claw at their limbs. They grapple with the man-made world too: In "The Well," the narrator stares "into the black black black" of an abandoned well in the woods, which reflects his own darkened soul. But while Callahan's rich, riveting baritone sounds like sad surrender on its surface, a sense of noble defiance occasionally emerges -- as he sings on "Say Valley Maker," "Bury me in wood/And I will splinter/Bury me in stone/And I will quake/Bury me in water/And I will geyser/Bury me in fire/And I'm gonna phoenix."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.