Creative Quarantine: Singer-Songwriter, TV Host, & Radio Personality Brick Briscoe

Brick Briscoe and band from a pre-recorded show for WEHT in Evansville/Henderson

1. How are you holding up?

Most of the time I’m doing really well. I’ve had some down moments, but nothing that I couldn’t shake by working or by taking a long walk on my cousin’s farm that surrounds our place. My wife and I are very adaptable, so we’ve found a way to work on little things, both personally and emotionally. Overall, I think I’m in a period of growth. I miss seeing my daughter and my granddaughter, though.  

2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?

Yes, profoundly. I was to be leaving for Europe on March 23 for six weeks or so. I was going to play some gigs and produce season two of my PBS television show “Any Road.” I was really distraught making the decision about not going and then suddenly that decision was made for me.  
Luckily, I have a radio show on NPR affiliate WNIN that I can easily continue producing in my home studio. But the TV show; that’s a whole other animal. And live gigs; forget about it! I saw the potential for floundering. So one night at 3 AM, I decided I had to do things I could actually make happen.  

I had intended on making my new LP My Favorite Los Angeles Restaurant sometime at the end of summer but, as I was faced with all sorts of extra time, I decided to not put it off. It all started with a sound I kept hearing in my head; I searched out the guitar chord and the songs on the album just grew like a weed from a single chord.    

Most people don’t know that I thought I’d be the next Truffaut or Rohmer but the desire to make films waned a bit when I started to get responses to my music. I imagined I’d score some films perhaps, but not actively try to make feature films. So I decided to write songs based on the ideas for the films I originally thought I’d make someday. It just so happens, the last film I almost made back when I lived in L.A. was called “My Favorite Los Angeles Restaurant.” It was a cathartic experience killing a bunch of birds with one stone. And the song “films” and accompanying music videos allowed a certain intimacy that is hard to get funded in the world of cinema. 

I have a feeling I’ll be making a feature film sometime soon, maybe even “My Favorite Los Angeles Restaurant.” But I migrated into making documentaries over the years because I can get them funded. In fact, I’m making a music documentary for PBS called “Music is Dead, Long Live Music” right now. I have one more week of shooting to go on that. 

I’m working harder than ever during this time. I’ve just had to make adjustments.  

3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

In the middle of writing and recording, I found myself addicted to ideas.  I had the flexibility to put down any idea, good or bad, I had at my recording studio at any time. So I’ve got into the habit of doing so. That is the upside of this time for me. I developed a certain discipline in my music creativity that I already had in my TV, film, and radio life. I flipped a switch and now I can’t turn it off. That’s been a real gift during this time of self-reflection. That and slowing down when I’m not working.  

Live at Montrose Saloon, Chicago. Allen Clark III on drums | Photo credit: Paula Borman

4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?

Most of the filmmakers and TV producers I know are really in a dark period. So many people are needed to make their things happen that it will be hard to get full-fledged production going any time soon in the United States.

Of the musicians I know, there’s a guy in the Boston area named Matt York and he is putting out stunning songs; simple, passionate, and beautiful. My new pal in Paris, Kim Giani, is recording, doing webchats, and performing non-stop from his apartment and wherever he can. His attitude is amazing and his output prodigious. I’m shocked we all don’t know him.

Of the folks I don’t know, Paul Weller (The Jam, The Style Council) seems to have his priorities in order, releasing a new LP and keeping up with fans via his band and his wife. Seeing what he’s doing is inspirational.  

The same with Lianne La Havas and Tim Burgess (of The Charlatans fame). They’ve found ways to engage friends and fans with playlists, small performances, and interviews. I check their feeds every day.  

Most musicians are optimists at heart. As the industry changes constantly without our consent, we find a way to roll with the punches and reinvent the way we approach the business. Hopefully, that will come out in the documentary film I mentioned above.  

Brick Briscoe is a songwriter/composer, performer, filmmaker, television producer, radio personality…let’s face it; he’s a hyphenate.

He’s a guy who never thinks he’s doing enough. But in the past few years, he’s battled cancer, scored and created sound design for two public radio documentaries, recorded three LPs and a half dozen singles, produced over 60 hour-long radio shows, traveled to France and produced and directed an hour-long TV documentary about WWI, did a couple of commercials, and started a TV show.

Briscoe has spent over 30 years in show business on virtually every level and has lived in NYC, LA, and now resides in Petersburg, Indiana.

Musically, Briscoe creates songs that paint a picture of restlessness and wonder, sprinkled liberally with a well-matured angst. He’s a wanderer both physically and artistically. You’ll find him just as obsessed with the open road as trying to get you into the metaphorical bed. The songs move between a punk rock edge and a curious free-form adventure, with his buzz saw and angular guitar riffs cutting a trail for his lyrics to find an unsettling safe house.

His video and film projects are always filled with raw energy and emotion. He’s a kinetic man who wears his heart on his sleeve. And much like his music, he’s always looking for the next adventure. His TV show “Any Road” just might be the thing to help keep him moving.

His radio program “The Song Show” airs on NPR affiliate WNIN in Evansville, Indiana.

With Briscoe, you always need to “stay tuned.”

Check out his website for more.