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BILL CALLAHAN

Bill Callahan And Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Blind Date Party

    The Blind Date Party hosted by Bill Callahan and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and featuring AZITA, Matt Sweeney, Alasdair Roberts, Matt Kinsey, Sean O’Hagan, Bill MacKay, George Xylouris, Dead Rider, David Pajo, Mick Turner, Meg Baird, Ty Segall, Emmett Kelly, Cory Hanson, Six Organs of Admittance, David Grubbs, Cassie Berman, Cooper Crain and Sir Richard Bishop happened online in the fall and winter of ’20–’21 — but the party planning dated back to the spring of 2020. Stuck at home, with no gigs in the foreseeable future, Bill, Bonnie and Drag City needed an outreach program to keep themselves busy, not to mention sane. In the absence of any company or anything on the calendar, playing songs they loved was an idea; playing with people they loved, the desire. And making it fun — so pairing someone with someone else having no say in the matter, the essence of the blind date, was the plan. Favorite songs were chose; players from around the Drag City galaxy were messaged. Pretty soon, songs were flying back and forth — music in the air!

    And thus, they were entertained throughout the summer of 2020, when so much else in the world seemed so completely wrong. By the fall, the songs started to appear online: Bill and Bonnie singing a song by someone they loved and admired; each song cut by another another artist they loved and admired, then sent to Bill and Bonny to provide the finishing touches. The spotlight pointed in every direction each week: toward the singers and writers who’d originally played the songs (Yusuf Islam, Hank Williams Jr., Dave Rich, The Other

    Years, Billie Eilish, Steely Dan, Lou Reed, Bill Callahan, Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Wyatt, Lowell George, Johnnie Frierson, Air Supply, Will Oldham, Leonard Cohen, David Berman, Iggy Pop and John Prine), toward their featured collaborators, the artists whose artwork adorned each digital single and videos made by still more collaborators. And you, the listener.

    Like the best parties, it turned out to be everything and more than they’d even hoped for. So many more people were involved in the process that we can get on the page here. Suffice to say, making records over the years has required a broad sense of community and an always-surprising mix of independence and unity, inspiration and utility. Some of our best memories are those where as many of our folks as as possible were together in one place at one time. In those moments, it was just a great thing just to be there. And with others looking in . . . this was a joy one could only be infinitely lucky to feel and to take for granted, as well.

    The Blind Date Party was one of these, maybe the most improbable one yet. It’s for everyone who’s here and it’s in the name of everyone who’s gone but will never go and will always live with us here. This album will too.

    And thus, we are entertained.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Combining the best elements of each others talents 'Blind Date Party' finds Bill and Will in fabulous form. Mellow, dark, country-folk laments to snuggle up to during the cold winter months.

    TRACK LISTING

    A
    The Blackness Of The Night (feat. Azita)
    OD'd In Denver (feat. Matt Sweeney)
    I've Made Up My Mind (feat. Alasdair Roberts)
    Red-Tailed Hawk (feat. Matt Kinsey)
    Wish You Were Gay (feat. Sean O'Hagan)
    Our Anniversary (feat. Dead Rider)
    B
    Rooftop Garden (feat. George Xylouris)
    Deacon Blues (feat. Bill MacKay)
    I Love You (feat. David Pajo)
    C
    Sea Song (feat. Mick Turner)
    I've Been The One (feat. Meg Baird)
    Miracles (feat. Ty Segall)
    I Want To Go To The Beach (feat. Cooper Crain)
    D
    Night Rider's Lament (feat. Cory Hanson)
    Arise, Therefore (feat. Six Organs Of Admittance)
    The Night Of Santiago (feat. David Grubbs)
    The Wild Kindness (feat. Cassie Berman)
    Lost In Love (feat. Emmett Kelly)
    She Is My Everything (feat. Sir Richard Bishop)

    Bill Callahan

    Gold Record

      For his first record in….uh, well, just a little over a year (!), Bill Callahan’s given us his first Gold Record. They can’t all be gold, and they’re not all six years apart either — all good! You could probably call the album “Gold Records,” too: all the songs have a stand-alone feel, like singles, meant for you to have a deep encounter with all of a sudden, from the start of the song to the finish. And what do you got when you have a record full of singles — and let’s face it, hit singles, at that?

      That’s a Gold Record for you.

      From the top, it’s clear this is music with an affection for people, as Bill immediately slips easily and deeply into his characters. Among them: a limo driver, a watcher of television, a suitor, a man in a broken-down car, a reader of books, a Ry Cooder superfan, and in the closing number, a wanderer who “notices when people notice things”. The voices of the people, with their ups and downs, their loss and laughter. You can feel the love.

      For Bill, preparing to tour for Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest meant considering being away from home for long stretches of time — maybe up to a year, who knew? Feeling his oats, Bill pulled out a few sketches from over the years and touched them up. Before he knew it, he was recording them, and in the shuffle, newer songs started popping up.

      It happened fast. Basics were recorded live with Matt Kinsey playing guitars, guitars, guitars and Jaime Zurverza holding it down “and then letting it go” on bass. Drums and horns were brought in for a couple songs. Spirits were high! Six out of the ten were done first take; overdubs, when needed, came equally quickly. Listening, one hears their intuitive cohesion coming together richly behind Bill’s titanic voice spread across the stereo spectrum: the gentle conversation of Bill and Matt’s guitars, the subtle percussion of the bass and drums, and odd appearances of trumpet, woodwind and synth, striking notes both decorous and discordant, sounding for all the world like the naturally occurring sound meant to accompany and express lives lived everywhere.

      These are in fact songs meant for other people to sing — but until they do, Bill’s got this. He’s got a secret on this one, and before we go, we don’t mind sharing it with you: he’s figured out how to perfectly place his voice in proximity to your ear. It’s based on the distance from your heart to your brain. Simple! Why don’t more people think like this?

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: It would appear that Mr. Callahan is entering a super productive time in his life, with not one but two records out in the short space of a year. This follows on from 'Sheepskin..' in many ways, with the more languid, minimal moments echoing those from the gorgeous 2019 outing, but with a little more focus on Callahan's (still) spellbinding vocal drawl. Beautiful stuff.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Pigeons
      2. Another Song
      3. 35
      4. Protest Song
      5. The Mackenzies
      6. Let's Move To The Country
      7. Breakfast
      8. Cowboy
      9. Ry Cooder
      10. As I Wander

      Bill Callahan

      Woke On A Whaleheart

        Whereas the last (Smog) LP was steeped in lo-fi country, Bill Callahan steps out from that beloved moniker to deliver his most accessible record yet. An aesthetic shift is apparent with the polished sophistication of "Diamond Dancer", an irresistible groove featuring funk basslines and raggedy fiddle floating above a gospel chorus of female backing vocalists. Callahan's unmistakable voice and poetic lyrics are as unique as ever, tracing the timeless connections between romance and sense of place like only he can. However, whilst the R'n'B rhythms and Motown string arrangements glitter on this album, Callahan hasn't abandoned his love of country, as evinced by "A Man Needs A Woman Or A Man To Be A Man". Evoking the maverick spirit of both Neil Young and now Paul Simon, Callahan confidently stretches the canvas of his already colourful tapestry.


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