Colin Hay, still a man at work, performing at Beaver Creek in March
See the man behind ‘Who Can It Be Now?’ at the Vilar Center at Beaver Creek on Sunday, March 15
Musician Colin Hay has a special connection to Australia, specifically some bushland off the Cobargo-Bermagui road in the southeastern part of the country in New South Wales.
The singer, songwriter and actor who came to prominence as the lead vocalist of the band Men at Work and later as a solo artist spent some time in the 1970s in the remote area of Australia.
“Me and my girlfriend Linda, we bought some land on the Cobargo-Bermagui Road,” Hay said over the phone in February ahead of his performance Sunday, March 15, at the Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek. “That’s where a number of songs were born. We used to go out there and hang out and camp. We built a little shack on it.”
Hay jokes he had to leave the area when he realized it would be difficult to meet Bob Dylan in the remote Australian bush.
“It has a very fanciful place in my mind of some kind of utopia, which has been broken because of the horrendous fires that came through and destroyed the whole town,” he said, “or most of it.”
According to a CNN story from January, at least 28 people have died from the wildfires across all six Australian states, destroying or damaging more than 3,000 homes and covering nearly 18 million acres across the country — with 12.1 million of those acres in the state of New South Wales.
“It’s one of the worst bushfires in Australian history and I felt a sense of what can I do to help,” he said.
Hay is going on a cross-country tour at the end of February, including his stop at Beaver Creek in March. Along the way, he’ll be doing meet-and-greets in select cities ahead of the performances, with ticket sales going to wildfire relief in Australia. Instead of waiting for the tour to happen, Hay has already sent funds to a recovery fund for the small town of Cobargo.
“I actually just sent it so they can use the money now,” he said before heading out on tour.
Still a man at work
Since the release of 2017’s “Fierce Mercy,” Hay has been keeping busy. He toured internationally with Ringo Star & His All-Starr Band in 2018 and 2019, as well as through Europe with Men at Work, performing the band’s many hits including “Down Under,” “Overkill” and “It’s a Mistake.”
He also toured Australia and the U.S., fronting the Colin Hay Band. He made his Melbourne Theatre Company debut playing Feste in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”
Hay is also working on material for a new 2020 album release, which can be heard at the Beaver Creek performance.
In 2012, he appeared on an episode of “Scrubs.”
“Hopefully we can all find a way to help, either as communities or individuals — however we can do it,” he said in a video about the people — and animals — impacted by the wildfires. “Thanks for your time, and lots of love. Take care of yourselves and everybody you care for.”
As for the meaning behind “Who Can It Be Now?” — Hay explains where some of the lyrics come from.
“At that particular time, I lived in an apartment complex which was in a very cool part of Melbourne, but I lived next to a drug dealer, so people were always knocking on my door thinking that’s where he lived, or the cops were coming around — someone was always coming around,” he said. “So you didn’t open the door, you would just sneak up and look through the peephole and see who was there.”
Tickets for the show at the Vilar Center start at $45 and are available at vilarpac.org.