posted February 13th, 2024

Bill MacKay and Drag City are delirious with pride to announce the discovery of a new territory: Locust Land, the Chicago-based renaissance musician’s transcendent and singular new solo album due for release May 24, 2024. Alongside the album announcement, Bill is sharing the album’s lead single, “When I Was Here”, with its accompanying video and a tour commencing in June.

“When I Was Here”, featuring Mikel Patrick Avery on percussion and Sam Wagster on bass, is a surging, blistering, blues-inflected jam with a lyric so sweet it stings. Speaking on the track’s origins and themes, MacKay said: “If you get to return to hometowns and early magic places, you might see what remains of your life before. Are the people there? What's the meaning of what you've passed through? It may be eternal and will always be a part of you. Adventures leave new worlds in their wake, but it's not for everyone. Paths diverge & you change but there are eras & experiences that never completely leave you.”

Locust Land
serves as a follow-up to Bill's 2019 solo effort, Fountain Fire, and follows a sweetly eventful 2023, which brought with it the release of acclaimed albums from his bands Black Duck (Black Duck) and BCMC (Foreign Smokes). Key to the arrangements of Locust Land is a departure from previous norms — in addition to the brilliant guitar work for which he is known, Bill plays a variety of keyboards, from piano to organ to synth, extending his music with the available voicings, without abandoning his signature brevity. For fans of his singing, and following in the recent tradition of Fountain Fire as well as his collaboration with Nathan Bowles (Keys), Locust Land expresses with an increased vocal presence — and heightened engagement, with Bill’s words and melodies drawing us closer.

On his previous solo recordings, Bill played every sound. Here, he has invited other illustrious Chicagoans to join him: Sam Wagster (The Father Costume, Mute Duo) plays bass on three songs, two of which feature the percussion playing of Mikel Patrick Avery (Natural Information Society, Jeff Parker). Additionally, Janet Beveridge Bean (Eleventh Dream Day, Freakwater) adds otherworldly vocal textures to the elegiac “Neil’s Field.” Whether played alone or with companions, this music projects the strength of a universal collective.

Discussing Locust Land, MacKay noted, “While making Locust Land I had a breakthrough. I saw that I could truly let a lot of things go, without losing the joy in them, and make something new in a huge way. So it is really about clearing a new path. Making a revolution of my own in life and song.”

With cover art also by Bill MacKay (the third of his albums on Drag City to feature his work), Locust Land stands as a thoroughly personal statement from Bill to everyone everywhere. The album is out on vinyl, CD and digital streaming platforms May 24, 2024, with a tour in June to follow.

Bill MacKay 2024 Tour Dates:

5/23 - Chicago, IL @ The Hideout
6/3 - Indianapolis, IN @ State Street Pub
6/4 - Asheville, NC @ Eulogy
6/5 - Charlotte, NC @ Tabor
6/6 - Washington, D.C. @ Rhizome
6/7 - Brooklyn, NYC @ Public Records
6/8 - Northampton, MA @ 90 King St.
6/9 - Rochester, NY @ Bop Shop
6/10 - Detroit, MI @ Moondog Café

Artists in this story: Bill MacKay