National Public Radio’s long-running, popular music program, WORLD CAFÉ recently visited Denton, to check our groovy music scene for their series, “Sense of Place.” The show’s host, Raina Douris, and producer, Miguel Perez, spent an afternoon at Brave Combo World Headquarters, picking Jeff’s and my brains about what it’s like being Brave Combo and living in our fine, but rapidly changing, city. The show’s exploration involves several installments, beginning April 4th. I understand Friday, April 7th is Brave Combo Day. I don’t remember exactly what Jeff and I said, but I do know we had a great time. Raina and Miguel were fine human beings and did their research. So, you should listen and hear what brilliantly entertaining things Jeff and I said. WORLD CAFÉ is based out of NPR station, WXPN, in Philadelphia, and, coincidentally, Brave Combo has had the honor of performing at the station’s on-site venue, World Café Live, on a few occasions over the years. Here’s a link to listen. Tell your friends and family!
Well, it’s that time of year again, when people around the world celebrate the death and resurrection of the ultimate leader of the Christian movement, Jesus Christ, whom, to many, was actually God, in human form. However, most believers think of him as God’s only son and that’s why we have Easter eggs, distributed by rabbits and, of course, the fashionable Easter Parade of bonnets!
So, I figured this was the best time of the year and, at this point in history, to release my 16-minute medley of favorite Protestant hymns, which heavily favor Jesus. I grew up, as many of you know, in Texarkana, Texas, a medium-sized city which straddles two states, Arkansas and Texas. My family was very involved in the Baptist Church. Specifically, The First Baptist Church. I saw it all, as it was. And, contrary to what most non-Baptists think these days, at the time, it wasn’t a heavy-handed denomination. I remember our pastor telling us to question the Bible, and that many of the stories are just parables, to teach a point and that when other people saw the glow of joy around Christians, they would want that joy, too, meaning don’t force your beliefs on others. My memories of the times I went to church are pretty okay and uneventful. There were cute girls there and, besides, almost everyone went to church in those days, anyway. I didn’t really think about God too much. Or his son. I believed they both existed, but by the time I was in high school I was hanging out with kids on the other side of tracks, playing rock and roll. My parents still made me go to church on Sundays, but they also didn’t stop my pursuits of the devil. And, by devil, I mean music. I went to college, studied art and music and then had an idea which combined both art and music and a career was born, and the big-ass world of MUSIC hit me in the face. Brave Combo came to be. But I never let go of my love for many of the hymns from my youth. I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics, but I really listened to the chords and melodies and the little things which were indicative of hymns and designed to move you emotionally. Once I became aware of the aural power built into polka music, I realized that hymns employed a lot of the same structural elements, to motivate and, in fact, manipulate those listening. And, although, Baptists traditionally don’t dance, they do enjoy the feeling of being moved internally by music. It fills their souls, too, but, generally, in a more reverent and introspective way, like meditation.
So, I present to you my PROTESTANT HYMN MEDLEY. And it features one of the best vocalists I have ever encountered, the amazing Daphne Gere. I met her when I was doing some music production work for FUNIMATION, an anime video facility which introduced the DRAGONBALL franchise to the United States. Daphne was a voice actor I directed on a couple of anime themes (check out the BLUE GENDER English closing). Her voice blew me away. I asked her to sing the medley and she did it enthusiastically.
I always want Brave Combo to have the ultimate “Music for Music’s Sake” attitude and I expect this of myself, as well. I stand, and have always stood, for all musical expression. It’s never mattered to Brave Combo where the music comes from. If it sounds cool and we think can do something even cooler with it, we’ll try. And if our inspiration sometimes falls into a so-called “not cool” category, all the better. Consequently, in my world, hymns are as valid as anything, on any level, even if I think the Bible could probably be condensed to two pages, double-spaced, large font!
Why is the medley so long? Well, it isn’t, really, when you consider how many great hymns there are. Plus, it’s a perfect length to serve as opening act for Protestant funerals. You know, at the beginning, while everyone is showing up. However, it might be perceived as long, so I don’t really think you’ll make it all the way through. Sixteen minutes is almost too much to ask of a listener these days, in 2023. But maybe you will. I hope so. I worked really hard on it, even if I didn’t know why I was doing it. Put it on while you’re doing something else, like deep breathing. How about someone starting a “Carl Finch Sound PROTESTANT HYMN MEDLEY Listening Challenge!” And, to be clear, this medley is not intended to be pro-Jesus or anti-Jesus. It’s pro-music and, indeed, perhaps, a challenge to listeners, to see if they can truly enjoy something, even if they aren’t a part of the tribe, so to speak. You can dig the music a lot without being sucked into anything else OR you can let the music, in fact, enhance your beliefs. I’m cool, either way! Happy Easter!