How did the band get started?
Brave Combo was the brainchild of Carl Finch. He formed the band back in 1979 by recruiting Tim Walsh, Dave “Tito” Cameron and Lyle Atkinson. Their debut recording was Polkamania on Carl’s own label, Four Dots.
What kind of music do they play?
To name a few styles: polka, waltz, schottische, mambo, two-step, hora, rhumba, cumbia, salsa, merengue, guaguanco, huapango, ska, samba, cha cha, stroll, foxtrot, Muzak, twist, ondo, tango, oberek, bubblegum, bossa nova, ranchera, charanga, bolero, dirge, conjunto, zydeco. Oh, yeah…and rock.
Where does Brave Combo call home?
Denton, Texas — home base of Brave Combo — is a college town 42 miles north of Dallas with an population of more than 100,000. Denton has a strong music scene and is very supportive of its hometown nuclear polka band. Brave Combo plays at clubs there regularly and usually does an outdoor show at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival in the spring. For more information about Denton and its environs, check out the City of Denton web page.
Does the band play requests at their shows?
Yes, Brave Combo is always happy to receive song requests from the audience, and almost always plays them. (Though they can’t guarantee it will be at the show you are currently attending…)
Can I get them to autograph my CD?
Yep, no problem, just attend a live show and take your album up to them afterward. Jeffrey tends to sign with Japanese characters, though, so your friends may not be convinced.
Can I hire the band for my own private show?
Sure!! Brave Combo is still available as a “matrimonial entertainment unit” (BC was the band chosen by Talking Heads front man, David Byrne, for his wedding reception) or for whatever other event you would like them to enhance. Contact the band’s office at 940-387-0860 to obtain information on scheduling the band at your club or for your very own performance.
How can I get foreign releases?
Foreign releases are tricky business. The albums are no longer in print, but you can give some of the second hand Internet record sites like eBay.com a try.
Has Brave Combo ever been in the movies?
Check out the 1995 film Late Bloomers in which Brave Combo appears in the role of … a wedding band. Brave Combo’s version of Recuerdos is included on the soundtrack of the 1999 Academy award winning short subject documentary, The Personals: Improvisations On Romance In The Golden Years. The Mathew Perry/Salma Hayek vehicle Fools Rush In features Brave Combo originals Linda Guerita and Nothing Is Permanent .If you squint your ears during the gas station robbery scene of Feeling Minnesota you can hear Brave Combo’s version of Jesusita en Chihuahua being squeaked out of the overhead speakers and Bubba’s fabulous cha cha Laura True Stories – Great Suit, Carl!is not only the accompaniment for the the prostitute scene in the Clive Barker thriller Lord of Illusions but also the music in the bar visited by Mickey Rourke’s character in the 1996 release, Bullet. Dulcecita and What Is This Darkness? were used in the HBO movie, Quick. The straight-to-video 1998 release, Meeting Daddy contains two Brave Combo songs, Nothing Is Permanent and Buscando Tu Corazon. If you want to hear three seconds (literally) of the Brave Combo song Two Marys, check out the big dance scene in the sci-fi send up Invasion (aka Top Of The Food Chain). Brave Combo’s rockin’ version of Happy Wanderer was part of a sing-along between Ben Stiller and Christopher Walken’s characters in the 2004 summer release, Envy. In David Byrne’s 1986 flick True Stories, Mr. Finch can be seen modeling a cinder block pattern suit during the fashion show. Also, you can catch a glimpse of Carl and Bubba in the accordion marching band and if you are extremely vigilant Jeffrey with his band, Banda Eclipse in the parade scene. Music by Carl and Banda Eclipse are included on the soundtrack. “Julida” is featured in Les Blank’s documentary about polka music In Heaven There Is No Beer. The band’s version of “Jingle Bells” is featured at the end of the short film, Christmas Caper featuring the Penguins from the kid’s movie, Madagascar. Christopher Walken warbles along to a car radio playing Brave Combo’s “Happy Wanderer” in the Jack Black/Ben Stiller film, Envy.
How about BC on TV?
During the March 21, 2004 episode of The Simpsons entitled “Co-Dependent’s Day” the animated version of Brave Combo provided the entertainment at Springfield’s Oktoberfest! Included in the episode was the Brave Combo original “Fill The Stein” and the closing credits featured a Combo-ized take on the show’s theme song! Read all about it in these articles from The Texarkana Gazette, and the Dallas Observer along with a LA Weekly interview with the show’s creator, Matt Groening. The band’s music has also been used during scenes in television shows such as Ugly Betty, Malcolm in the Middle andHistory Detectives.
Some of Brave Combo’s other television appearances include the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon, Rich Hall’s Onion World and they were the featured act on such showcase programs as The Lonesome Pine Special and Nebraska Arts Council’s Backstage Pass.
In 2008 Brave Combo provided the entire score for the PBS animated series, As The Wrench Turns. The music from the serieswas nominated for an “Annie” from the International Animated Film Society. Other scores and theme music were recorded for shows on Fox Sports, ESPN and the Big Ten Network.
Brave Combo has recorded music exclusively for television commercials for the Tampa Aquarium and National Geographic and the theme song for the ESPN series, “Bowling Night.” “Busy Office Rhumba,” from the album, No, No, No, Cha Cha Cha was the theme music for the short-lived Fox network’s “Bakersfield P.D” and other Brave Combo songs have been used as background music on such shows as NBC’s “Ed” and “Normal, OH” on the Fox Network. U.S. ice dancers Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow chose “Recuerdos,” from the same album, for their 1994 Olympics performance. Punsalan and Swallow also tapped Brave Combo to record an “Elvis medley” for their free dance program in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Brave Combo also has provided the music for animated station identifications drawn by Eyebeam cartoonist, Sam Hurt for the Austin Music Network. Sam also made a video for the song, “The Hokey Pokey,” which was directed by Chan Chandler and played at Chuck E. Cheese entertainment centers.
Are there books about Brave Combo?
Not yet, but in the horror novel Animals by Skipp & Spector, the main character, a werewolf bartender laments “Band nights were the worst, especially when acts like Brave Combo or the Flamin’ Caucasians booked in and the crowd got all hot and bothered.” In their travelogue The Mad Monks on the Road , Michael Lane and Jim Crotty mention their stop to catch a set by the punk polka band, Brave Combo. Hiroshi Matsumura’s World Music Declaration, published in Japan, devotes a chapter to Brave Combo. One of the character in Richard Grant’s novel, Tex and Molly in the Afterlife, describes a Brave Combo recording as “a song that seemed to have been spawned by a mating of rockabilly and Polish wedding favorites.” The Sensuous Vegetarian Barbecue by Chelf and Biscotti includes a recipe for the Brave Combo Sandwich.
Who is that woman on Humansville who is complaining about all the noise before the song, “Move”?
That’s an actual message from Jeffrey’s home answering machine, with one of his neighbors (nicknamed “The Bat”) threatening to report him to the authorities for disturbing the peace on a night when he wasn’t even home. She’s scary.
Have Any Other Bands Covered Brave Combo Songs?
Sure! Check out California-based band Snufkin’s funk/ska take on both “What Is This Darkness” and “Do Something Different.” For lots of fun, try to hunt down a copy of Brahman, a Japanese rock band’s spin on the polka, “Flying Saucer”.
Where is Humansville?
It’s in Missouri. The liner notes for the album Humansville relate the story of how its title was chosen. “One time after playing a club in Springfield, Missouri, we decided to drive out of town a little and find a motel on the road to Kansas City (our destination for the next night’s gig). After driving northwest on state Highway 13 for about an hour, we saw a sign that said “Humansville-Next Exit.” So we took the exit and drove around town awhile. It was 3:00 AM and aside from our van, nothing was moving. It was a shame we didn’t find a motel, ’cause we really wanted to stay in Humansville.”
What is that big lollipop-shaped instrument is played by Brave Combo’s former/sometimes percussionist, Joe Cripps ?
The instrument is officially called a lagerphone. It is a spring-loaded work of art-on-a-stick, covered with beer bottle caps, honestly procured hotel room keys and their fobs. It’s listed under Joe’s credit on the album Polkas For A Gloomy World and can be heard at the end of “Hosa Dyna” and on “Pije Kuba” and “In Heaven There Is No Beer”.
What’s a kolache and why is it BC related?
Kolaches are fabulous pastries of Czech origin. The dough is wrapped around a fruit or poppy seed filling and then baked. It’s customary to stop for kolaches at The Czech Stop (BC’s picture is up on the wall there!) en route to West,Texas, the site of Westfest, a large-scale Czechoslovakian festival on Labor Day weekend at which Brave Combo has played for the past 30+ years.
What is the “Corndog Controversy”?
This is Brave Combo’s alter ego as an acoustic marching band. The name comes from the 1980s when Brave Combo played acoustically with accordion, tuba, clarinet and washboard at the State Fair of Texas. The band saw a carnival trade paper with the headline”Corndog Controversy” and adopted the name.
Whose body is attached to the feet on the cover of Music for Squares?
Brave Combo’s “number one” fan, Gina. (She is the undisputed Queen of BC groupies. She ended up marrying one of the band members.)
What’s the deal with the Tiny Tim collaboration?
Cultural impresario James “Big Bucks” Burnett first masterminded this meeting of musical titans and after playing a session together, Brave Combo and Mr. Tim decided to continue their collaboration. The resulting album, Girl, combines Brave Combo’s phenomenal fluency in world music traditions with Tiny Tim’s encyclopedic knowledge of early twentieth-century American popular song to create a most unusual melding of styles.
In the song “Ice Machine in the Desert,” where does the line, “Like a fur covered spoon/it made me think/Isn’t life a funny joke,” come from?
Before he started playing in a polka band, Carl Finch, author of this song, was an earnest young art student who was intrigued by Surrealism. The Surrealists were a loosely knit band of writers and artists in Paris whose interest in alternative versions of reality (such as dreams) was often expressed in paradoxical imagery. One of the best examples is the 1936 Object or Breakfast in Fur 1936, by Meret Oppenheim, which consists of a teacup, saucer, and spoon covered with fur (now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York). Its impact comes from the combination of the completely commonplace with the utterly unexpected. Much like Brave Combo.
Just where was the “Ice Machine in the Desert”?
Alan Gann reports that “The Red Jacket on Lower Greenville stands on an historic BC location. I looked for a plaque but didn’t see one. In a previous incarnation this space was the home of Nick’s Uptown and the original ice machine in the desert. The ice machine was located around the corner from the stage, so that the band passed it going from the stage to the green room. After a set on that trés hot stage, many bands scooped large cups into the ice machine on their way back stage. Woe to the guitarist or drummer who forgot his bucket.”
And liner notes for World Dance Music read:
ICE MACHINE IN THE DESERT
INSPIRED BY THE SIGHT OF AN ICE MACHINE IN THE BACK OF A DALLAS CLUB AFTER A PARTICULARLY HOT NIGHT
Who’s that gorgeous woman on the cover of No, No, No, Cha Cha Cha?
That’s Candace, and, no, she doesn’t want to date you.