Bill MacKay is a guitarist, composer and improviser currently living in Chicago. Through his extensive work in creative folk, experimental rock, and improvised jazz, he has emerged as a highly inventive composer-songwriter and versatile, unpredictable guitarist.
His melodic wide-ranging work has continually sought to uncover fresh musical terrain, while also drawing on primal roots: his compositions bear the hallmarks of a journey equally influenced by the folk of Appalachia, the hybrid rock & jazz of urban America, the experimentalism of the avant-garde, and the ragas of India.
He currently performs as a solo artist, with band Darts & Arrows, and with many musical partners including cellist Katinka Kleijn, multi-instrumentalists LeRoy Bach and Sam Wagster, drummer Frank Rosaly, bassist Matt Lux, singer-guitarist Ryley Walker, singer-cellist Khari Lemuel, violinist Renee Baker and drummer Charles Rumback, all of whom are also composers.
MacKay is also a writer and soundtrack composer. So far 7 records feature his songs and he has appeared on another 15 recordings as an instrumentalist.
His records have received praise in reviews by the Chicago Reader, Downbeat, and New City among other publications. In 2014, he was composer-in-residence at Ragdale Foundation, and awarded an Individual Artist grant by the Illinois Arts Council (IAC).
Selected projects for 2015 include: a duo recording with Ryley Walker on Whistler Records called Land of Plenty; the third record by his band Darts & Arrows on Ears&Eyes Records; a performance with Renee Baker's Chicago Modern Orchestra (Creative Music Summit | Sunyata: Towards Absolute Emptiness) at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in May; several compositions on the soundtrack of the film Crying Earth Rise Up (Prairie Dust Films) and a book of poetry.