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Edie Brickell & New Bohemians in Royal Oak, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2018

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Edie Brickell & New Bohemians haven't always worked often. But they make it count when they do.

The Dallas-based group is back with "Rocket," their first new album in 12 years. It features the quintet's familiar blend of loose-limbed, genre-blending melodicism, which the world first heard with the Top 5 1988 hit "What I Am." And while much time has been spent inactive, the New Bohemians remain bound to each other -- and ready to work when the spirit, and time, allows...

"Rocket" is the unintended product of a 2017 New Bohemians reunion for a benefit concert for La Rondalla, a non-profit arts school where guitarist Kenny Neil Withrow teaches in Dallas. Rehearsals -- "We don't really rehearse because we improvise so much," the guitarist notes -- yielded "a little group of songs, and there was something about them that told us to go into the studio and record them. There was just something there. It was very emotional for us, right from the beginning."

The group recorded the 13-song set at Arlyn Studios in Austin, Texas, with Kyle Cushman -- who Brickell credits with capturing the group in a way it never has been on record before. "He brought the band to life in a way that really represents the spirit of the band, the sheer joy of the players, which we never felt came through before," she explains. "We knew there was something more in the band than what we'd done before, especially in the studio, and Kyle really brought that out on this album."

Withrow concurs with Brickell's assessment and adds that the New Bohemians, as players have become more facile and precise as time has gone on. "We're all very much improvisational players. A big part of the old way of recording would be to do a ton of takes, but if you're a spontaneous player your good takes were at the beginning. So we're finally getting to the point where everything is coming out right as we're doing it, and Kyle was really great at getting that. Almost immediately he had a mix up of what we just did."

Both Brickell and Withrow view the album as the start of a new period of activity for their band, meaning there will likely be more touring and no more 12-year gaps between albums. "I want to show how great this band is," says Brickell, who during the interim released a self-titled solo album, played in Steve Gadd's Gaddabouts and worked with Steve Martin, including the Broadway musical "Bright Star." "I have time now. My kids are out of the house. So we're very excited. Every time I go in to play with this band, I get very excited. I admire and respect the New Bohemians because they've evolved throughout the years. They didn't just get complacent or quit -- none of us did. They kept learning and growing and their passion for the music is greater than ever, and you can hear it and feel it. I'm very excited about what we're doing now and what we'll do in the future."

And Brickell says that husband Paul Simon has offered nothing but support as New Bohemians return to active duty. "Paul understood that was my intention, and he supported it. He thinks it's great. Playing music is a great privilege, but if that's my only identity I would not be happy. So I went and did what was in my heart and had our children, and I knew if the music was meant to be, it would be there. And it is, so I couldn't ask for any more."

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians perform Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors at 7:45 p.m. $39.50 advance, $45 day of show. 248-399-2980 or royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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