Tim McCallum - ‘Soul and Music’

Tim McCallum plying his trade at Southbank

Somedays can find me just walking around thinking about what I would like to do next. Do I go for a surf? Read a good book or maybe watch a quirky foreign film? Just spending some reflective moments with my beautiful wife, our feet drifting between the caresses of the ocean and the crunching delight of the Sunshine Coast sand is an amazing gift in itself to partake in. 
And in a single moment, I might even be zapped into that abundant dimension of creativity that is ever present.  A flash of inspired thought, can propel me like a  Fokker Friendship out of my comfortable lifestyle zone and into a place of usefulness to others, especially those who do not have all the opportunities that I readily have at the disposal of my ink-aligned fingertips. 

It is in these moments that I might decide to finally get my bum into gear and put in the yards to finish that book project about the plight of asylum seekers that I’d set out on with an unquenchable passion a year or so ago. Or the recently invigorated spurt of energy that I had to write and publish a second volume of inmate’s poetry from the time when I facilitated a creative writing class at the Woodford Correctional Centre. Or look for something interesting lying around the house. Some thing that I have collected in my journey through life that may be more useful in the hands of one of the kids that I work with at school than accumulating dust on the shelves here. 

AND THEN... I stumble across an unassuming guy like Tim McCallum and I get the sweetest taste of, along with the scientific evidence, of the real truth about inspiration. Here’s a flow of how this particular serendipitous moment panned out for me.

Yesterday afternoon I went to listen to our friend Cecile do a lecture/recital at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. It was a component of her Doctor of Musical Arts. She gave a really insightful address to her teachers, peers and friends titled, ‘A Musician’s Journey into the World of Tango’. Cecile looked at the multi-faceted relationship of two important components of her creative life, this being the piano and the Argentinian tango. Of how these musical creations came into her life in very different ways and somehow managed to weld themselves into an entirely new entity, a separate place that gave her a sense of compatibility and purpose into a world that is built individual note by note and movement by purposeful movement. 

Cecile’s academic insight was followed by a performance on a Grand Piano of four of own compositions. Beautiful compositions, articulating her unique journey of discovery through a world with a very delicious, tango flavour. In part Cecile was  accompanied by Dr. Gerardo Dirie on bandoneon and the flawless tango dance duo E-Tango (Greg and Rosemary Ensbey - 
http://e-tango.com.au/About-us.php). It was a special thing for me, to sit in a concert hall with others and bear witness to a friend’s amazing gift. And be warmed and inspired by the observation that as human beings we are able to identify these amazing talents. And then find ways to breathe life into them so that the bigger world can also benefit and be blessed by their creation. You can listen to Cecile’s music from her first album (CD) of Tango music, Rosas para vos, by clicking on http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/cecileybrillo.

After leaving Cecile’s recital, I was immediately treated to further aural pleasure in the form of traditional style jazz in the foyer of the Conservatorium. It was performed by a band that I assumed were students of the Con. I was forced to linger and listen, drawn in by the talent of each individual and how they unobtrusively swam and sang together on a small, temporary platform to completely fill a void with meaning. It wasn’t like I was in New Orleans or anything... but I could have closed my eyes and been there in a moment.

Leaving the jazz behind, I still had an hour to fill in before going to pick Jo up at Brisbane airport. So I got my camera out of its bag and headed towards the giant ferris wheel (http://thewheelofbrisbane.com.au). Finding a comfortable garden wall to sit on, I looked out over the afternoon in this city of Brisbane that I have known for so long, and went along with the flow of my memories and daydreams. I remembered the Southbank (back then it was plain old South Brisbane) of the mid seventies, of dodgy, bloodbath pubs and broken lives. I remembered the first time I’d seen Carol Lloyd and Railroad Gin belting out their rock songs from the back of a semi-trailer parked on the derelict banks of the Brisbane River. 

And I was drinking in that memory, searching for soul and sunshine in the remnants of a Saturday afternoon, when the sense of it was interrupted by a musical style completely unrelated. A Pavarotti moment, but from without, in real time. And that’s when I spotted Tim McCallum, the source of this Italian operatic wonderment. Tim was parked about fifty metres from where I was sitting, beneath the backdrop of The Playhouse, sharing his joy to the world as they passed him by and then stopped silently in their tracks to stand or sit and listen, in awe of what he was sharing with them.

Through my own creative process I’ve learned never to let an inspired moment, or artwork, or source, or person, pass me by. So I moved over a bit closer to listen and photograph and record this opportunity. It was special to watch a ‘Heinz’ variety of people be touched by this one man, to soak it all in and respond with acclamation. I couldn’t do any more than to join them, to know that I was in the right place at the right time and be grateful for yet another experience that I somehow felt would make a difference (save) to someone else’s life.

Before I left I went and thanked Tim for his singing and asked him if he would allow me to write a blog about him. We swapped business cards and he asked me to forward him a copy of my blog. I knew nothing about this man but what I had heard him sing and the few words we’d exchanged. Their was no hint in the way he spoke to indicate the trauma he’d undergone to be sitting where he was right then. There was nothing present but a man talking to me with a caring heart and a humility so tangible that he could open up a shop and give it away for free. 

I’m a great believer that the plans of mice and man give God his greatest source of laughter. On Friday afternoons my work colleagues often ask each other what they have planned for the weekend. I couldn’t have planned yesterday afternoon nor how I am spending this Sunday following a mosaic of images and words in my mind and watching them as they fall together on the page.

After leaving Tim entertaining the gathering throng and evening sky with even more renditions of songs that I mainly knew from television commercials, I picked Jo up at the airport. I listened as she excitedly began to tell me about her time in Sydney and the address that she had attended with other members of her church. The subject for the address was along the lines of ‘Soul (another name for God) and Music’. And hearing what she had to say about the address coincidentally tied in perfectly with what I’d experienced in my visit to Southbank.

But the music for the day didn’t stop there. Jo and I had tickets to see the 80’s electro-poppers, Pseudo Echo, strut their revitalised catalogue of hit songs at the Woombye Hotel last night. Now the back room of the Woombye Hotel is a long way down the ladder where live on Countdown in 1984 lives at the top. But good musicianship and pride in having a top ten worldwide hit will bring out the best in any band or artist. And that was the same for the Pseudo Echo boys last night and the punters in the mosh pit. Most of them sober and on a ‘be home by midnight’ curfew placed upon them by their grandkids, they were still able to dance in a variety of unrelated styles and sing every word of ‘Funky Town’ on queue. The PE boys delivered and we all had fun. 

When I began to write this blog a few hours ago I started off by looking up Tim McCallum’s website and then googling his name. Somehow it didn’t surprise me that he had already achieved and given so much during his life. I then looked for the meaning of ‘inspiration’ on Webster’s online dictionary. There were a wide range of meanings for the one word, but after meeting Tim yesterday and reading about his life this morning, I thought the following terms could be applied to him:

in·spi·ra·tion noun \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-\
: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
: a good idea

Full Definition of INSPIRATION
:  a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation

:  the act of drawing in; specifically :  the drawing of air into the lungs

I am so grateful that I was born with an overdeveloped sense of compassion for humanity. This is one of the greatest legacies that my father left to me. Along with the idea that it is more important to save a life than save a million dollars. And we can make a difference (these three words and save mean the same thing) to people’s lives by using the gifts and talents that come with us into this worldly experience, no matter what circumstances may present themselves along this road less travelled.

For me, Tim McCallum is a perfect example of this idea. He recently moved to the warm and friendly climes of Queensland and is currently resident in Brisbane.  When he is not working at a corporate, school or community benefit gig, you can find him most weekends at The Courier Mail Piazza at Southbank, sharing his sense of joy and freedom with the world. Tim is easy to find. Just close your eyes and be led by the purple bougainvillea pathway to the source of those soothing, dulcet tones and have your own ‘Aria in the Afternoon with Tim’ moment.

Even better, go to www.timmccallum.com.au and book Tim for your upcoming wedding, party or celebration and let your friends and colleagues benefit from this amazing story that Tim has been given to share with us all. 
(Email info@timmccallum.com.au Mobile - 0410 741 955). He told me he can travel as far as Italy, so that should pretty well cover most Australian locations and venues. 

Thanks Tim!!

Ciao (and I'll leave you with a taste of the operatic Tim to listen out for at Southbank.)


  1. Timothy is a wonderful human being. I was honoured to have met him 5 years ago now and feel blessed to have been able to get to know him as an individual. He is inspirational, motivating, and an all round great bloke. I have heard him sing on many occasions and he never ceases to amaze me, hitting that note and sending shivers down my spine! Just magical! I am sure he will leave a gigantic footprint on the world before his time on this earth is done. He has already done so much with his life in this short time, I wish him nothing but the best for the future!

  2. A note from Canada: I was lucky to meet Tim here in Toronto, and have him sing at two gatherings in my home. Enjoyable, plus, plus, plus.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts