In 1979, a lot was going on in the world of pop music, and pop culture, in general. Punk was in full bloom. New Wave was pushing the dinosaurs off the charts. Disco was burning down corporate rock icons and Reggae was introducing an exotic sound to ears eager to escape the increasingly empty vibe created by artists like Phil Collins, Hall and Oates, Van Halen, who were, by this time, considered dullsville and pointless. No offense to any of those folks, but I remember the feeling well. Rock radio couldn’t be worse. It was completely disconnected from reality and becoming, well, embarrassingly uncool. I knew many musicians and who were disturbed and confused by the changing landscape. They were caught up in instrument acrobatics and formula lyrics. But to many others, it was obvious that energy had left the building. The edge was gone. The intensity was gone. The danger was gone. Rock and roll had become squeaky clean. Heavy metal morphed into hair metal; a pitiful joke. The excesses of pop stars were no longer exciting. They were now irritating and boring. There was simply no substance left. But, as is sometimes the case, the balance of nature took over and adrenaline started to flow again, but outside the mainstream. Suddenly everything was getting stripped down and music was roaring back to the basics. Screw the establishment! In 1979 Brave Combo played its first show. Fast and loud polkas, because no one else was doing it. We were cheerful punks. Lyle (original bass player, currently with the band) often referred to us as “happy metal.” Whatever, it was the beginning of what continues to be a hell of an education. We also tried to rock the cumbia, the cha cha, the twist; anything that “normal” white America would consider square and unworthy of attention. Our motivation was the music. We were as sincere as we could be. It was not a novelty to us. It was just different; a new way to look at things. And, most importantly, people liked our groovy sound right off the bat. How lucky could four nerds be? Well, one thing led to another, and before Brave Combo knew it, four decades had zoomed by. And here we are, more than halfway through 2019. Jeez! I think about how I fit into the puzzle way too much and having a band like Brave Combo has kept me constantly wondering about the big picture; what this all means. You have no idea what it’s like to live with me.
Speaking of our 40th Anniversary, Brave Combo’s long life is the cover story of the current Dallas Observer. For all of you history buffs that are interested in BC’s early days, check it out! My appreciation goes out to Daniel Rodrigue for doing his research thoroughly and writing a great piece
Beyond the celebrating and patting ourselves on the back and milking the milestones for promotional gain, we have work to do. IT’S POLKATIME, in a big way. The season is here! Look over our itinerary and make plans to have a good time. Polka is the ultimate tension-and-release music. It’s designed to make you feel better. And, of course, we’ll be mixing it up, as usual. You know, Czech meets Polish meets Tejano meets German meets Slovenian meets American, and so forth. Musically, Polkafests and Oktoberfests are pretty all-over-the-place events, for Brave Combo, so prepare accordingly.
RECORDING NEWS. Ten new tracks are finished and almost ready for mass consumption. I just haven’t figured out the best way to present them. Does it make sense to manufacture CDs or arty cassettes and LPs? Those are all expensive investments and it takes a long time to recoup the costs, not to mention actually make a profit. Sadly, those once-popular means of listening to music are now, primarily, live-show souvenirs. And, sadder still, they’re not even as popular as t-shirts and drink koozies. Think about it. If you are inclined to listen to music, what do you do these days? I go straight to my YouTube app. So, no matter what, I intend to have videos, on YouTube for all of the new tracks. You can then get to them anytime, anywhere, immediately. And watch some moving images accompany the sound. Many of the videos are well on their way. We had a huge garden spider right outside one of our windows for a couple of months. I shot a lot of video of her just hanging around, gently swaying. On a particularly hot day, I poured water on some leaves right below her and she stretched and climbed down and embraced a leaf full of water for a while, then ascended back to her spot. About a week later she was gone, which sucked, but I’m really glad I shot the video. She now has a prominent role in one song and is destined to be a star. I hope she left willingly, in one piece.
Well, as you know, I could go on and on, so I’ll take this opportunity to bail and let you return to your normal life. Keep your head up and your hopes high. What you see happening in front of you, day in and day out, is all there for your “edu-tainment (education and entertainment).” And, by the way, it’s okay to laugh at all the stupid stuff you do. You’re only human, after all.