So, that was 2019, huh? As I write this, the year is pretty much over. The old man’s stumbling out and a brand-new baby is crawling in. As well, the decade is shutting down, too. That is way too much fodder for news and entertainment sources as they all feel obligated to produce tons of end-of-the-year/decade look-backs and wrap-ups. Jeez, 2010 seems like yesterday and early 2019 seems like this morning. And now that we’re all so information-saturated, I don’t really want to re-examine how we got here. Plus, most of it is too depressing to “relive the moments,” anyway. As the stock market soars and the rich get richer, most of the country feels like it’s in decline. Stuff is falling apart, and hope is dwindling. I believe most people want to get along with each other, but the folks in charge won’t benefit from that, so it’s not a priority. In fact, when someone’s playbook depends on creating adversaries and stoking the flames of intolerance, it’s hard to be optimistic about what lies ahead for 2020. Maybe the year of perfect vision will reveal the ugliest truths we’ve seen yet. Think about this. The President of Russia, who was once the head of the KGB, has more influence on the USA’s foreign policies than any American. I mean, when over half of the country is pretty sure evangelicals now equal zombie-fied devil worshippers, who knows what weird-ass shit will happen next? I, for sure, didn’t expect to have that on my list of worries at this point in my life. My parents weren’t happy when the politically-motivated Charismatic fringe appeared to be taking over their church in Texarkana in the 1980s. They thought it meant the institution was dumbing down; going for emotion over theology. But it was still a fringe while they were alive. Their world continued to revolve around the First Baptist Church and their FBC friends. They just saw the new element as backwoods ignorance, and it bugged them. I’m glad they both checked out when all they could see was the tip of the iceberg. Whatever, it might be a good idea to set your peace-of-mind expectations really low and buckle up for a guaranteed roller coaster. In other words, HAPPY NEW YEAR, everybody!!!
A RAY OF SUNSHINE! Although, the future is bleak for non-rich people, fun is still possible and I gotta say, we had a blast at all of our holiday shows this year. Thanks to our faithful fans who showed up and partied with us. We felt surrounded by happiness at every wing-ding. Our return to Knucklehead’s in Kansas City was a total blast; an amazing night. And, of course, the gem of Berwyn (Chicago), Illinois, Fitzgerald’s just never lets us down. If Brave Combo has a home away from home, this is it. In case you missed it, here’s something I posted recently about the Fitzgerald’s figgy pudding experience.
HOLIDAY BUMMER. We are very sorry and very bummed that bad weather kept us from getting to Lincoln for our somewhat annual holiday show at the fabulous Zoo Bar. It really sucked because we love playing there and were already out on the road, anyway. Perfect combination. However, winter storms in the Midwest kinda call the shots. But we will get there soon and play some festive Christmas songs, whenever happens.
ATOMIC BOMB DROPPED ON TEXAS. Bob Wade was my professor for two painting classes I took as an undergraduate at UNT (then, NTSU). He was already pretty famous at the time, known for his bigger-than-life installations and sculptures, which glorified cliché Texas iconography. He turned kitsch into high art and rode a wave of international curiosity about Texas mythology and the Wild West, in general. He made the Iguana which was atop the Lone Star Café in New York City. Those big boots in San Antonio are his work. The Dallas-area dancing frogs, seen here and there over the years, are his work. He was a major force in this genre; a leader, actually. One of the things he said, the first day of class, was a question. He asked us (students) if we made art or if we made what looked like art. This hit me very hard. It opened my eyes immediately. Taking classes from him was wild and full of surprises and, in my case, the beginning of an awakening; an integral part of what was to come. I guess we hit it off. He asked me to help him with a ton of projects, from creating and hand-tinting the world’s largest photograph to performing on a mound of dirt in the middle of his giant map of the United States (look it up) to helping him find someone who would loan him a little mobile home for an outdoor piece at an important Dallas gallery. For some reason, I was even driving him around for a bit. I can’t remember how that came about. To say the least, I learned a lot just hanging out with him. He was a master schmoozer; a magic elixir peddler, a gentle smart-ass and a genius self-promoter. But he also knew his shit when it came to art history and how he fit into its evolution. He was always “on,” and ready to tell you what he thought and what you should do. In fact, he often said just that to me. “You know, Carl, what you should do is just hang speakers on the wall instead of paintings.” He once hired me to provide the music/sound for a conceptual happening/event at an office supply store. It was called The Office Supply Piece. As I remember it, Bob and a few other Texas outlaw artists sorta destroyed the placed while I played recorded sounds of staple guns and such, as loud as possible. It was bedlam. It was great! Some art patron happily donated his store for this special night of mayhem, which could have come off as just stupid. But Bob knew what he was doing. He was taking advantage of an opportunity to create a moment and get as much attention as possible in the process, while keeping his persona intact. Bob Wade, also known as Daddy-O, died a few days ago from some medical complication following a recent surgery. His loss to the art world is huge. His loss to Texas is impossible to gauge. Happy trails, Robert!
BIG NEWS. An entire album’s worth of new BC recordings is finished and about to be mastered. This has taken forever because I don’t know when to stop. But, also, rescuing lots of cats is incredibly time-consuming. There are only 1440 minutes in a day, you know.
As we cautiously slide into this new big hunk of unknown, don’t forget (1) to trust your inner voice and (2) the power of polka, an incredible thing; a mysterious, but reliable, force. It can help put things into perspective. There is strength in always being outside the influence of mainstream thought; in surviving under those conditions. So, as well, be strong and independent and focused and reliable. You are what you are. Here’s to 2020! Into the fog we go!