Broken Fever

The hardest thing Nick Brisco ever did was grow up

Brisco returned from the West Coast in late 1992 and almost immediately headed for the East Coast, moving to New York City to escape a failed relationship. He stayed there for six months, writing and reading and trying to figure out where things went wrong, wondering if he had the guts to start over again.

When he came back to Dallas in mid-1993, carrying only his bike and a suitcase, he moved into his parents' house and did "the whole poverty thing," as he calls it. He put together a new band and called it, appropriately enough, Pluto. Featuring a number of musicians who played in The Dead Thing--and, for a while, Bryan Wakeland on drums--the band never made much of a dent; Brisco blames it on the fact that it was hard for audiences to drink and dance to "too many songs about death." He shrugs: "SMU girls didn't like it."

Though he's only 30, Brisco has been around long enough to influence a generation of younger musicians--OK, 25-year-olds--who remember Fever in that warm bask of nostalgia that surrounds so many bands who were so close to becoming something other than Friday-night superstars. One such player was Slobberbone's guitarist Michael Hill, who would eventually join Brisco's new project. (Also playing with Brisco now are bassist Steve Chambers and drummer Jim King.)

Brisco recorded his first batch of new songs and demos in Waxahachie in March 1997, with Hill on guitar, Chambers on bass--and Chris Claridy and Bryan Wakeland by his side once more, inseparable partners even after all this time. But by the time he recorded the second set at the beginning of this year, Claridy had become a full-time member of American Horse (the Jackopierce spin-off), and Wakeland was working on his own music and playing with Meredith Miller.

Those who have known Nick forever and who have heard his new music like to say it reminds them of the songs he wrote in Fever--that is, they're simpler, straight to the point, rock and roll cut from a familiar cloth. What they do not say, what's implicit in their words, is that they are thankful to find their old friend playing in a rock and roll band once again, back on a stage once more, getting his shit together finally.

Because, you see, Nick Brisco may be a lot of things: cocky, ambitious, pretentious, even a little foolish sometimes. But he is, above all else, talented; the only problem is, and has always been, that he knows it all too well, which is why he ruined his band and his best shot at breaking out of the minors.

As Nick Lowe once wrote, time wounds all heals, and Nick Brisco has suffered like few others in the history of Dallas music. He's been celebrated and cast out, adored and vilified, made a hero and a villain in the span of just a few years. And there's no doubt that Brisco, for all his talk of deals that may or may never happen, is just happy, after all this time, to get a gig this weekend playing Club Dada--and on a Friday night, no less, a spot once as familiar to him as his own home. He has paid for his sins tenfold, and he deserves whatever good comes to him. All that remains to be seen now is whether Nick Brisco will embrace good fortune, or whether he will beat the shit out of it one more lousy time.

"I'm not going to lie," Brisco says. "I want my new songs to be heard, and I would like to be recognized. If something happens and I'm not recognized while I'm alive for what I do, I would like them to be available posthumously. I still want them to be there whether they are discovered in the next six weeks or the next six years or the next 60 years, if the planet is still here. I want them to be heard."

Yup. Only Nick Brisco, still such a young man, would talk about being recognized for his greatness when he's dead. How can you not forgive a man like that?

Nick Brisco and his band perform June 12 at Club Dada.

Shaggy P.A.
Speaking of old-school: Former Texas Monthly cover girl Nancy "Shaggy" Moore has picked herself up off the old Lost Highway and started herself a new country-rock-etc. outfit titled, appropriately, Shaggy and Her Light Sweet Crude Band. Those who don't recall Moore's previous band--Lost Highway, which included among its illustrious ranks one Craig Taylor, long ex of Killbilly--might remember her from the good old days when she threw a "Pajama Party" every Saturday night on KNON; she was even supposed to have been played by Molly Ringwald in a movie about her life, and thank the Lord that never happened. The band includes Moore on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Brian Robbins on lead guitar; Gerald Iragorri, a member of both Junky Southern and Leroy Shakespeare's Ship of Vibes, on bass; and Randy Cook on drums.

"This is my first my band," says Moore, who was also a part-time member of Zydeco Faux Pas. "This is the me shit. The songwriting is really the reason I couldn't help but put a band together, because songs were just popping out all over the place, and I just had to have something to do with them." The repertoire features country standards and a few oddball faves (Blondie's "Dreamin'," for one). Says Moore: "The original stuff ranges from an authentic-sounding Riders in the Sky type of thing to a trash-can blues song to a grungy Steve Earle anthem to an Emmylou Harris sweet thing. It's country because I'm country. But it's everything." Check out Shaggy for yourself June 12 at the Sons of Hermann Hall, when her band opens for Donny Ray Ford's Widowmakers, or the following night at Adair's.

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