Everything is so complicated. Everything. Denton is non-stop-jam-packed with cars and trucks and bicycles and people on foot, everywhere you go. We are bulging at the seams about to burst. Pretty soon we will all be flung into space like human cannonballs, from the over-crowding. And, of course, road construction could pop up, and it does, anywhere, at any time. I am not exaggerating. Denton’s official mascot is an orange and white traffic cone (rimshot, please). And this is just ONE example of how complicated things have become. The act of thinking is a lot more involved than it used to be. There are too many topics to ponder and angles to consider. And where music and art fit in today’s world is not easy to figure out. Most of the models of the past, based on simple ideas, don’t apply anymore. Almost no one has the time to stop doing long enough to really listen, anyway. I know I don’t. Besides, I have to keep inventing ways to contain, entertain and train animals. This is a self-inflicted responsibility, for sure, but I still have to do it and be innovative in the process. That takes energy. Even just relaxing and watching a movie is not easy. So many decisions! Do I go to a theater (regular or restaurant/theater)? Watch something on regular TV? Check out all of the options in the Netflix-style universe? Curl up in a corner and stare at YouTube on my phone all alone in the dark? All are viable options. And this doesn’t take into account all of the screen-time each of us puts in on a regular day, looking at whatever, including social media and video games. I’ve been hearing the term “information overload” for, like, 30 years. Jeez, where are we now? There’s no slowing down the train, apparently. Of course not. What would make people NOT want more and more and faster and faster? And most of us, including myself, just keep buying into this as how it is supposed to be. It’s like a dump truck drops a big load of trash onto my front yard every day and, rather than try to eliminate as much as possible from my life, I try to just keep organizing it all. So, where does original music fit into this mess? Should it even try to fit in right now? If you make original music, how does anyone know? And a whole lot of folks are coming up with “new” stuff every day. Every minute! In Denton alone, 100 new songs are probably born in the same amount of time it takes to walk around the teaming downtown square. All one needs is a guitar and a mouth. So many new word combinations are being written. So many new melody lines are being sung. So many thoughts are being thought. I often find myself not wanting to add to the clutter anymore. Perhaps enough is enough. It’s not for lack of ideas or opportunities. We have plenty of material and invitations to perform are still coming our way, but sometimes it seems like the whole world of music is just desperately trying to revive a dying loved one. The old template is all worn out and used up and the new one is like mush. It can’t be defined because it can’t slow down long enough. Plus, nothing is tangible. And, just so you know, this is not about right and wrong. It’s about what we want, as a culture and a society, and where we put our priorities. On the other hand, when no one can figure out the rules, then anything goes. And that’s a potential plus. Maybe it’s not just about music anymore, because it just isn’t and can never be the same as it was. Or, then again, if we devolve into spending our days simply trying to survive, the basic joys of music could return. For a long time, musicians based the present on knowing how the future would be. Well, guess what?
Speaking of complicated and WTF? More and more, if a band performs for a city function, wherever it is in Texas, the band has to register with the city as a vendor; an entity which is selling goods or a service to the city. This involves filling out lots of forms, some of which may have to be notarized. It’s a hassle, but, until recently, that’s all it was. Now, however, if you want to be a part of a city-sponsored concert series, you also have to sign a form stating you don’t boycott Israel and have no plans to boycott Israel before the completion of the contract with the city. If you don’t sign it, you can’t do the gig. At this particular time in my life I, personally, am not boycotting Israel or South Africa or Bolivia or Iceland and have no immediate plans to do so. But, you know, I might disagree with some policy, maybe about the treatment of animals, and decide to not support a person or an entity, in some, most likely, symbolic way. So, being forced to sign such a form, in order to work, feels a little creepy, at least. However, it’s the law in twenty-seven states, including, obviously, Texas. This is weird and unsettling, for sure, but it also forces one to think about how to respond. After doing some research I understand what’s going on and I invite you to check it out. I am not making a judgment call on the rightness or wrongness of the law, but it sucks that it affects musicians who are simply trying to play music for people who want to listen. See? Complicated! Who could have seen that coming? I will say, almost everyone apologizes when they send the form to us. Of course, I respond by demanding that no meat be served while we are performing, which never works.
Now for some good news! Cleveland International Records, which sorta ceased to exist after its founder, and our very good friend, Steve Popovich, Sr., passed away almost ten years ago, is back in business. We released two albums with the label, receiving a Grammy for one and a nomination for both. Steve was a one-of-a-kind guy. He was ruled by his passions, which were music and his family. He came out to hear us one night at the legendary Bluebird in Nashville, beginning a long personal friendship and professional relationship. I encourage you to Google “Steve Popovich” and see what “pops” up. You will be astounded at his achievements. Anyway, his son, Steve, Jr., is reviving the record company and rereleasing some of the titles, including POLKASONIC, our 1999 Grammy winner. We are super-excited about this, not just because our album will get a new, fresh push, but also because relaunching the label is a tribute to Steve. Here’s to the Popovich family legacy! Let’s see what happens!
IT’S POLKA TIME! On Saturday, April 6, you should come out to beautiful Scholz Garten, in Austin, Texas, for a night of revelry and polka! The Texas Shrine Brewer’s Association is throwing down a wing-ding, featuring beer and Brave Combo. Also, it’s a donation event. The cover is whatever you want it to be. Pick an amount between, let’s say, $5 and $500. We play 7 to 10pm on the big outdoor stage. This is a great place to dance, too, as you probably already know. Also in April, Brave Combo is performing at the Ft. Worth Main Street Festival and the mighty Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, which feels like it’s coming around about once a month these days. And, Brave Combo alumni, Bubba Hernandez and Jeffrey Barnes will be joining us for all of our shows in April. How can you NOT come out?
Twelve new studio tracks are almost finished. You will LOVE them all. Start thinking about how you won’t be able to live without them. You are getting sleepy….
Please check out our itinerary often. Dates are being added weekly. The world is getting funkier all the time, so we might as well get funky with it. So, come out to our shows and get funky with us. Just like always!