Almost exactly one month ago I was just about to write August’s Machine’s Pump when Hurricane Harvey came to visit the Gulf Coast. That seemed like enough natural disaster for one month. Well, as you know, Harvey was just the beginning. Irma and Maria both brought wide-spread devastation to Florida and the Caribbean. And two powerful earthquakes struck Mexico. The magnitude of destruction and desperation is hard to wrap one’s head around. As with last month, my topics for the newsletter seem somewhat trivial, compared to all of the worrisome current events in our country and around the world. I guess humans just try to adapt to whatever and carry on, huh? The ol’ survival instinct. Being well past my initial excitement about AARP discounts, I do think, if nothing else, age-related perspective helps me deal with stuff; all kinds of stuff, but mainly big picture stuff. I’ve done stupid things for what seems like forever and so has everyone else and part of me is content with not giving a shit about things that used to matter, because we’re basically lost in the wilderness, just trying to maneuver through the day or the week. Who has time for deadly weather events or a pesky Nazi resurgence or stupid-ass nuclear war? I know I don’t and I doubt the people of Puerto Rico or Mexico City or the Florida Keys or Beaumont, Texas do either. Hell, normal day-to-day existence is a struggle, even under the best circumstances. Are we in one of those “crisis-breeds-opportunity” times? I don’t know. It sorta seems like our priorities are all screwed-up. I would like to remind everyone we live on one little planet in one little solar system. We have evolved to the point where we know there are billions, if not trillions of planets and stars and solar systems and galaxies. As we learn more about what’s out there, we individuals become smaller and less significant. We’ve never been so aware of just how small each of us, indeed, is. And, as millions of unfortunate people have just learned, when big-time disaster hits we may have only our neighbors or the bravery of unlikely heroes to come to the rescue. So, is it simply all about survival? And do we spend our lives in denial; avoiding that reality? Is our desire for comfort, convenience, entertainment and, especially, predictability keeping us from the great truth. Speaking of predictability, why is it a good thing for media, social media, and my grocery store to sum me up, categorize me and limit my exposure to anything outside of how I’ve been pigeon-holed? Why is it a good thing to take random actions away and protect us from stuff not in our “comfort zones?” Why is it essential to the program to only show people what think they want to see? What’s wrong with discovering something? Damn, all of the cool things in my life have been the result of stumbling into the unexpected. My best times often come from things out of my control. Right now my brain is exploding with personal examples. Doesn’t all of the compartmentalizing lead to isolationism or us-against-them or fear of the unknown? I’ve always felt that Brave Combo’s mission was to look for what wasn’t there and to find the back door, which means to figure out new and different ways to get our music out there and to make unique, surprising sounds for people to hear, crafted with an attitude of “nothing is sacred and everything is sacred.” For sure, our bottom-line message to the audience has always been to “get out of your box, drop your preconceived ideas and open your mind.” Well, I have never felt more against-the-grain. Tell me this. If everyone, for instance, moves away from all-over-the-map cable TV to just streaming, on-demand-style programming, who will ever accidentally see, for instance, Jim Bakker’s new bizarre Christian survival food show or that infomercial about 1000 knives for $25 or any poor-quality local productions? Variety is the “spice” of life, Baby! No Variety is the “four-day-old, room-temperature iced tea, without ice” of life.
VIDEO PICK OF THE MONTH
When I was a kid, attending the First Baptist Church, in Texarkana, Texas, with my family, it was hard to focus on the pastor’s sermons, but I always liked the hymns. Through the years, my fondness for the Protestant hymns from my youth has stayed solid and, in fact, I think some of my appreciation for polka is rooted in my heavy exposure to hymns and how they’re constructed. On a few occasions, Brave Combo has converted a Baptist hymn into a polka and, as anticipated, it’s always worked perfectly. Well, my friends in The Chardon Polka Band, from Chardon Ohio have taken it to the next level, performing polka-fied hymns at a local bar on “Beer and Hymns Night.” Here’s a video of the band rocking “How Great Thou Art,” one of every Protestant hymnal’s biggest hits. Okay, all you Baptists, grab a Pabst and let’s polka!
THE CARL FINCH SOUND
In the midst of all the turmoil around the world and the uncertainty it brings, I have decided, for no good reason, to experiment with a new project, which I’m calling, for now, The Carl Finch Sound. It’s a solo-with-occasional-guests thing, but a little hard to describe, other than it involves me becoming organic with technology. It’s mostly electronic, but don’t freak out and think you gotta be wiggy to dig it. If I tried to describe it in words, you would stop reading. So, I’m thinking about streaming one of my rehearsals. A few nights ago I performed about 20 minutes, opening for The Mike Dillon Band and Mike sat in on a couple of the songs. It worked well enough to give me the incentive to keep going. I hope the result will be intriguing, interesting and beautiful but it won’t be super dance-oriented, although it does share elements with straight-up electronic dance music (EDM).
Brave Combo, the band, is in the middle of Oktoberfest/Polka Season. We are playing many shows in the next six weeks. Please check our itinerary and come out. What do you have to lose, other than your precious time, energy and money? And while you’re there pick up one of our new t-shirts or glossy Brave Combo stress balls.
That’s enough, for now. Please keep giving as much as you can to help the human and animal victims of recent calamities. Do a little research and find an organization you can trust. After that, imagine the unimaginable, think the unthinkable, sing the unsingable, eat the inedible and dream beyond your dreams. Or, find a dark room and sulk in the corner, with your cell phone nearby, of course.