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Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Road to Remission

How dark days led Brick Briscoe to the City of Light

Brick Briscoe is equally adept at using both the creative and analytical parts of his brain. As creator, writer, and producer of a television series and a radio show, as well as a touring singer/songwriter, he has to be.

“The Song Show,” his weekly radio program airing on WNIN’s station at 88.3 FM, has been in production since 2015. His TV show, “Any Road with Brick Briscoe,” is filming its fourth season and streams on WNIN’s website. The roster of artists who have appeared on these shows includes stars such as bluegrass musician Billy Strings and English singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock. His broadcast work also includes feature films and documentaries.

Briscoe credits his music for helping him through his darkest days. In 2017, he was diagnosed with Stage IV mantle cell lymphoma, a rare subtype of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Five years later, doctors discovered chronic leukemia.

“Music saved my life,” Briscoe says. “Mostly spiritually. Being able to work on the soundtrack for my shows, and work on my LP ‘IV’ while in the hospital was crucial. It kept me focused and allowed me to think infinitely, not short term.”

You’ve been back in Paris finishing production on “Paris, Indiana,” a collaborative album with several European artists.

BRICK BRISCOE AT PÈRE LACHAISE CEMETERY, PARIS, FRANCE. PHOTO PROVIDED BY BRICK BRISCOE

There are a lot of [roads] that led to this one. I took my first trip to France in 2018 to shoot a film about an Evansville family’s connection to World War I, called “Chester & Gertrude (At War).” While filming, we visited the famed Parisian cemetery Père Lachaise, where Jim Morrison and many other famous artists are buried. I was in remission and felt lucky to be alive. Coincidentally, Lucky Point, Indiana, is right across the river from where I live in Petersburg. The two places just came together in my mind. On the flight home, I penned all the lyrics to the album “From Lucky Point to Père Lachaise,” and released it that same year.

Fast forward four years, I was in France and Ireland with my TV show. By then I had visited Paris a number of times and met some very talented songwriters, performers, and artists. The idea came to me to develop a cross-cultural music project featuring them. When Nick Buxton, owner of French Fries Publishing and the Basement Productions studio, and all the artists were on board, the project took off. Back home, we’d send each other music drafts. I returned to Paris in September 2023 to put all the pieces together in Nick’s studio. We had quite a mélange of music: Irish reels, R&B, folk, grunge, rock, blues, chanson [polyphonic French singing].

And now you are producing a documentary about the making of that album.

The film follows my career and the lives of the participating artists. It highlights similarities, differences, failures, and successes. There are live performances, studio B-roll, backstories, and conversations shot all over France. I borrowed the title for the film from the album I mentioned earlier, “Lucky Point,” because that initial journey is what spawned my passion to work in France.

How has your diagnosis made you think differently about life in general?

I write a song every day … lyrics, music, or both. You start thinking about your legacy, and you wonder, “Did I work hard enough?” And as I look at my body of work, I believe I have.

Keep Listening

The record “Paris, Indiana” will release in summer 2024 on most streaming platforms. The related documentary, “From Lucky Point to Père Lachaise,” is expected to release this fall.

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