Civilization, May 1999. It’s a cookie cutter world. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Acceptance brings some peace, unless you’re inclined to resist and demand a unique view of life. Lots and lots of people have lots and lots of babies. Can every single “blessed event” have a special purpose while they’re here? Is that specialness bestowed upon you or do you have to work at finding it? Maybe no one is particularly special. Maybe a handful of people in each generation are just lucky. I mean there really are no more stars of any sort. Does anybody over the age of 15 think otherwise? Clever media- savvy manipulators parade myriad human guinea pig “idols” before us to give us something on which to spend disposable income. That’s about it. I’m sorry. Magazines like PEOPLE, rather than celebrating specialness have succeeded in making everything the same. Was that article about Brandy or the chicken that saved a baby.? How are we supposed to look? What are we supposed to think? I am sometimes haunted by the tentative nature of everything. But I’m amused as well. That fresh, hot plate of food served to you is just minutes away from being attacked by stomach acids or scraped into a trash can. This is where the Buddhist theory about cycle of desire comes in. I believe that somewhere in the downtime of the cycle the door to discovering your specialness exists. So, rock on, dude. But really rock. Don’t fake rock. What good is it to fake rock? It’s so empty and that barren wasteland side of things can be just downright depressing. Here’s some news that’s either wildly liberating or totally debilitating: hardly anyone out there is smarter than you.
We played a show with The Red Hot Chili Peppers at the old Parody Hall in Kansas City about ten years ago. After the gig I was talking to Flea (Chili Peppers’ bass player) and a kid came up to him and asked him how he did what he did. Flea snapped back, “I just party, man! I just party!” So there.
Let’s talk about reality a minute. Brave Combo plays many kinds of things: club shows, concerts, festivals, store openings, birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, reunions, benefits, corporate events and promotional showcases. Usually, they make sense and fit into the general scheme pretty well. But sometimes you just say, “Hmmm, why not?” and accept that life is occasionally hard. I take this performing thing quite seriously. It’s my job and it’s my art and I believe in being psyched for it. I don’t go through any specific rituals exactly, but I like to be prepared. And I want everything around the show to be conducive to a good performance. Although it’s nice to be well-rested, we rarely are, and in a way, trying to make musical magic, against all odds, can be an exhilarating challenge. Whatever, let me tell you about the weekend of April 30/May 1, 1999.
We booked a festival in Coppell, TX (small community on the west side of Dallas) for Friday, April 30. This used to be called Pigfest, a celebration of pet pot-bellied pigs. People would dress up their pigs and bring them to the town park and some would get awards. It was a pig-friendly event. As I understand it, no more sausage was served than at any other city festival. Well, pot-bellied pigs aren’t as popular as they were a few years ago, so the old theme is being fazed out. Anyway, after we booked Coppell we were invited to perform at the Music Midtown Festival in Atlanta, GA on Saturday, May 1. This is a big deal in the national festival circuit, so we were very interested but we didn’t really want to fly because we wouldn’t be able to use our own equipment. So, since we would be driving straight to Atlanta immediately after our show in Coppell, we asked the promoter to schedule our performance slot no earlier than 7:00 or 8:00 PM. They offered us 5:00 PM. So we figured, if we finished in Coppell by 9:30, we could be on the road by 10:30. With food, gas and comfort stops, and if absolutely nothing unexpected happened, it would take about 16 hours, plus we would lose an hour when we morphed into a new time zone. That would get us to downtown Atlanta around 3:30 Saturday afternoon; an hour and a half before showtime. It was sort of possible, so we accepted. Then a lot of back and forth happened during the actual booking process that isn’t very interesting.
About three days before ex-Pigfest I started thinking about the weekend. It was hard to imagine, but it was funny, too. Brave Combo riding around in the Donut (our truck/van thing) is kind of funny anyway, but when you throw in the knowledge that the highways in Louisiana and Mississippi are excessively bumpy, it’s really funny.
Well, the weekend arrived. We played the show in Coppell. Everyone seemed to have a good time. There was a guy driving a bunch of small kids around in a train made of painted oil drums strung together. And there was a giant inflated slide made to look like the back half of Titanic as it’s going down. At 9:30 we said goodnight to the nice audience and packed up and drove to Atlanta. We stopped a few times to check out gift items at truckstops and made it to the festival site right on time. The show went very well and we packed up and headed home, stopping in Birmingham, Alabama to spend the night. Nothing too unusual happened. There’s no punch line to this story. That’s okay. Sometimes it’s good if life is dependably predictable. Besides this was much easier than playing in Los Angeles, driving straight home and immediately hopping on a plane in Dallas and flying to Sweden and it was probably easier than digging a bunch of post holes. You know, with those special post hole diggers? My parents actually had one of those. My father has a bunch of tools. And they’re all good quality and very well taken care of. The cleanest lawnmower in town. Drill bits, drill bits, drill bits. Nails and screws, all organized.
May is looking pretty cool. On Friday, the 14th, Brave Combo will be commemorating 20 years of existence by playing a request night at Dan’s Bar in Denton. Our first gig was around this date in 1979 in Denton. On Saturday, the 15th, festival season continues at The Taste of Addison, TX. It’s an afternoon show so bring the family. On Friday, the 21, we return to the fabulous Sefcik Hall in Seaton, TX (8 miles east of Temple). The Praha Brothers will open. The next evening we’ll be in Conway, AR at Hendrix College. And, on May 29 and 30 (Saturday and Sunday) the Ennis Polka Festival happens. That’s P-O-L-K-A. Isn’t that a great word. It’s perfect. And it’s a perfect world when you have the power of polka in it. Come out and see us. Check the itinerary page for details on the shows. We’ll see our East Coast friends and fans next month. Also, reunion plans are coming together. Dave Cameron, our first drummer, came out to the show in Austin recently and is looking forward to the festivities. Stay tuned.