Brad Houser, bass player and co-founder of Dallas rock band New Bohemians, dies
Brad Houser, a nationally renowned musician from Dallas who was a member of Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, died on July 24; he was 62.
Born John Bradley Houser, he was a founding member of the New Bohemians, later named Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, who rocketed to fame following their 1988 hit "What I Am." He also went on to form other bands such as Critters Buggin and Dead Kenny G’s.
According to a July 19 post by the band, Houser suffered a stroke on July 17, and was in the hospital where he remained in critical condition. A friend of the family confirmed that he was taken off life support on July 24 at 4:44 pm, and he "passed peacefully" at 9:09 pm.
"We want to say thank you to the many friends and family that have reached out in support of Brad and his wife Kiri. We love you all, and we are truly grateful," the post said.
Houser was beloved not only for his music expertise and fluid effortless bassplaying but also for his humility, generosity, sense of humor, deep infectious laugh, and encouraging nature. Friends called him "a rare human with the most beautiful heart and soul," "a team player," and "a musician's musician."
He attended Hillcrest High School and was a member of the high school band, starting out on saxophone before switching to bass, which he played on five albums with the New Bohemians, as well as on several records with his bands Critters Buggin and The Dead Kenny Gs.
He resided in Austin with his wife Kirilola Onokoro, a musician and former bass player for Japanese band Ex-Girl, with whom he also released recordings under the name Diamond Boom.
In addition to playing music, he wrote about music and the bass for Bass Musician magazine, and also collaborated with Reverend Guitars to create a pair of bass guitars, including one called the "Basshouser."
More recently, he worked as an instructor at the New School of Music, an organization in Austin that focuses on jazz instruction but also offers free classes to those who could not afford to pay for lessons, including a program where they lend instruments to underserved students so they can practice at home.
In April 2020, Houser invited friends on Facebook to post a comment recalling how they met: "The last few years have taught me that when it is our time to leave this world no one can stop it. We have one life to live. The material things we invest in are left behind only to be discarded. Memories are important to me. I am joining the 'reunion of friends' challenge. .. If you are reading this message, make a comment using a single word about how we met."
Responses included "music-making," New Bohemians, and "Club Dada" where Edie Brickell and New Bohemians first played.
In 2022, he mused on Austin, stating, "I had the honor of playing Liberty Lunch with Edie Brickell and New Bohemians in '86 and John Doe in '95. Best damn venue ever, well, OK maybe in a dead-even tie with 500 Cafe, Theater Gallery (when you could still go up on the roof!!!!!!) and Club Dada…….. Liberty Lunch was everything good about the Austin that us old(er) MFers still remember."
"Now we are rapidly becoming Dallas with more hills and trees. I’m from Dallas. Austin was always such a magical place, seemingly in a different realm entirely separate from the $money$- driven greed pits found almost everywhere else. These days you’ll find me at the Continental Club gallery on Fri-Sat nights, playing to the absolute best of my ability with some extremely gifted musicians (Josh Perdue & co) and on Sunday afternoons downstairs with Marshall Hood."
Before he died, his fellow New Bohemian band members Kenny Withrow and John Bush came to his hospital room to play music, and also brought Houser's beloved dog Riga to his bedside. He was an animal lover who often advocated on behalf of rescues.
On Monday afternoon, Withrow posted a request on Facebook, saying, "At 4:44 pm if you could, pause for Brad and his journey," to acknowledge his passing.
Brickell posted a remembrance, saying, "Just spent 6 weeks playing and recording with my friends, New Bohemians. It was our final day recording and Brad was about to take off for a gig when I said, 'Aw, come on! One more jam, Brad. You start it.' He nodded and played this great part and I started singing about him to him with the biggest smile on my face just having fun. I was celebrating his generosity to stay and play one last song with me. But I never thought it would be our final song together. Our band's very last jam was a playful song about Brad. I loved him. He taught me a lot."
UPDATE 8-1-2023: A memorial service will be held at All Saints Presbyterian in Austin at 7808 Rialto Blvd. on Tuesday August 1 at 1 pm. The service will also be livestreamed for those who cannot attend.