Edie Brickell: "I Worked The Booth At The Granada Theater. I Was In That Booth All By Myself and Daydreamed When I Wasn't Working."
Edie Brickell might not live in Dallas anymore, but she still thinks very fondly of her roots here. Her latest project is The Gaddabouts, a supergroup featuring session musician legends like drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Pino Palladino, and they released the double-disc set Look Out Now! last week. Brickell shared with us her musical firsts and what she's doing now.
What was the first show you remember seeing? The first show was The Police and XTC at McFarlin Auditorium. I think it was 1982.
Anything stick out about the gig, other than the fact that it was XTC actually playing live? I know! And I loved them. I had never heard them before. I was crazy about them. I bought all their records. Loved Black Sea. They really became my favorite band there for about a year. I remember sitting on the steps of McFarlin Auditorium and them taking off in the tour bus. Me and my friends were that close to rock stars. They put on a hell of a show. You had the sense that you would never see them in such a small venue ever again.
I could imagine they played Reunion Arena later in their career. That's right. I went and saw that show and I just didn't like it as much as that McFarlin show.
Was the McFarlin show the first show you paid to see? Yeah! I had gotten a job earlier and I was able to start doing stuff. I worked the booth at The Granada Theater. I was in that booth all by myself and daydreamed when I wasn't working.
What was the first instrument you learned to play? Guitar.
Did you learn on a Spanish guitar or an electric guitar? An acoustic. My dad had given me a little Spanish-styled acoustic guitar he won in a bowling match. He brought it home to me and he encouraged me to write him a song, so I did.
What do you remember about the first show you played with The New Bohemians? The first time was the most fun I ever had. I felt completely engaged, completely alive. Everything's working for you. Everything's firing on all cylinders. Your heart, mind, brainwaves. Everything's on. It felt like I had crossed over into a dream reality.
Do you remember the venue and the year? It was 1985 at a place off of Northwest Highway. It was my first year of college. And, believe it or not, it was the first time I ever went out. My routine was, go to school, go to work, go to school, go to work. And I didn't have a boyfriend, I didn't meet anybody. I wanted to have a boyfriend and a life, all that stuff. Whenever I would go out with friends, I was shy or tired. I wasn't really interested in partying, drinking. But then a friend called me up and said, "We're going to meet some people from Arts Magnet," which was my high school. This friend usually asked me to go places all the time and I'd say no. And I thought, "If you don't start doing stuff, being young, you'll never have a boyfriend, never meet anybody." And I went over there and that's when I met The New Bohemians.
Do you remember the first time you heard "What I Am" on the radio or saw it on TV? I do remember! We were out in L.A. We were doing promotional efforts for the record company. They were driving us around to radio stations and photo shoots for press. We pulled up to a red light and a guy next to us was in an open-air Jeep. "What I Am" came on the radio and it played for about 20 seconds before the guy switched stations.
That was the moment! It was hilarious! We realized it and he quickly turned it and played Aerosmith or something. I think it was the minute my voice came on.
What were some of the first shows you took your children to see? Oh, their dad [Paul Simon]. You know, a lot of his shows. Oh, I know, their very first concert that we all went to together was The Flaming Lips. I loved Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots so much. And we all saw them at Roseland. That was such a fun night. People were shooting lasers and Wayne [Coyne] rolls out in that plastic ball. It was the best. Even Paul went.
Did they have people dressed up as animals? They did. They were all dancing. My youngest son and my daughter got a kick out of it. They knew the record because I used to play it endlessly in my kitchen and in my garage. It's such a buoyant, feel-good record to me. My kids knew all the words.
What do you remember about the first time you played with The Gaddabouts? I thought, "I've never heard guys play so well in the studio before in my life." You can play them a song and they remember it so quickly and then they go in there, put headphones on, and play it perfectly the very first time. And they always have a good vibe. It's a joy. It's like standing on the edge of a building and just soaring like a flying dream.
I can imagine playing with Steve Gadd and Pino Palladino, it's hard to find a better rhythm section out there. I'm telling you! And they couldn't be sweeter, more supportive guys. You see the joy when they play together. They look at each other and they're not jaded. They absolutely love what they do. It's like playing with The New Bohemians where you step into a dream. It's just on a different vibration. They pull you in and set you free.
As a drummer myself, it's inspiring to see a drummer like Steve Gadd play the shuffle to "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and then play straightforward stuff like what Jim Gordon and Steve Ferrone previously did with Eric Clapton. He can play anything and he's willing to play anything. He's not too proud to play something straight ahead. And he's knows what's right for the song. He's probably the coolest guy ever.
Are you guys planning on touring? You know, we were going to, but no one's really heard of the band. I'm trying to create some kind of awareness of the band so that we can sell tickets in certain cities. We're crossing our fingers that we can create some kind of cult status or some awareness. We played New York City and we sold out Zankell Hall at Carnegie Hall. Our first show was the most spectacular show. It felt great; the band was out of this world. We have that awareness. There's a radio station that plays us all the time, but that's not the case across the country, not even in Dallas.
You are correct. I worked in radio for ten years and I know all about the ins and outs of it. I can understand how frustrating it is to crack that. I understand why new artists and longtime artists have to use the Internet in unique ways to at least get the word out there. Playlists are too narrow, even narrower than how they were in say, 1981, depending on which format it was. You have any ideas?
I would definitely suggest KNON. They're still around. And Jeff Liles is still around. Do you know him? I know him very well.
He's got a great thing going at the Kessler Theatre. Did you ever play there? Yeah, I played there a few times with the Heavy Make Up. That's our improv band with a lot of the New Bohemian guys.
Things are going well here in Dallas, whether it's in Oak Cliff or Deep Ellum. I moved here 12 years ago and I've seen a lot. Where are you from?
I was born in New Orleans, but I grew up mostly in suburban Houston. And I distinctly remember hearing Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars at a party in the Rice village. My mom was getting her Ph.D from Rice at the time, and this totally dates me, but I was in fourth grade when that record came out. No, that dates me, darling.
But I didn't change the channel or run away when I saw it on MTV. Oh, thank you.
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