About two miles south of the Interstate, a five-minute car ride from downtown Austin, is Travis Heights. It’s the last place Stevie Ray Vaughan called home before he started living out of hotels and storage lockers, and it’s where you can spot local resident Robert Plant – whom the locals call “Bob” – and his inamorata Patty Griffin walking their two fluffy dogs through the meandrous streets after sundown.
Local legend has it that when Callahan moved to Austin right after a particularly satisfying SXSW festival, he slept in his car in the parking lot of a La Quinta hotel, before finding a house in South Austin. As it was for the city’s infamous bats, Austin was somewhere Callahan could hide in plain sight – something the determinedly mysterious singer-songwriter is well-versed in. Callahan’s parents both worked for the National Security Agency when he was a child, and so sensitive was their work that he was forbidden to tell his friends what they did for a living.
Look, I found this satisfying combination of words. I want to share it.
“Dream River” is singer-songwriter Bill Callahan’s 18th release since his 1990 debut (during which he has released music under both his own name and his alias/band name Smog). The soft-spoken artist is known for dabbling in multiple genres and peppering his acoustic Americana sound with lo-fi and experimental elements and his baritone lyrics can tend towards the dark.
When compiling his dinner party soundtrack, Callahan recalled his parents’ 1970s dinner parties and went with a subtle, retro sound and a bit of depth below the surface.
Hi, I’m Bill Callahan. I have a new record called “Dream River” and here are some of the songs I would play if I was hosting a dinner party.