Okay, be honest with me. Is music really all that important to you, anymore? I know there was probably a time when it was right up there with food and water, maybe even air, but where does it fit in your life in 2019? It certainly makes sense if it’s not near the top of your priority list. I totally understand. We’re all trying to cope with the constant distractions which, apparently, go along with modern life, but let me ask you a couple more questions. Do you spend any time searching the web for information on the exciting new band or musician you just discovered? Or, better yet, how often do you let yourself go on fanciful musical journeys to who-knows-where, on YouTube? You know, like when you start out with Sandy Nelson’s “Let There Be Drums,” and end up at a Romanian wedding. That sort of thing. I’m not trying to put you on the spot with yourself, just curious about how involved professed music lovers actually are with music. I have some friends who rarely miss anything with melody and rhythm in and around Denton. They seem to sincerely dig being around music, especially live music, whoever, wherever. Those are the obvious true believers, but not the majority. For musicians, things started changing rapidly in the early 2000s. Big crowds at clubs were no longer a given and our once-reliable methods of promotion were not cutting it anymore. Plus, after 9/11 it took a long time for the masses to even remember that bands and clubs and concerts were still around. Unfortunately, by the time the country was ready to party again, the word “party” had been redefined and the old, packed venues were now struggling to stay open. The musical landscape had become almost unrecognizable and eventually there was so much of everything the landscape practically disappeared. The pie was now cut into a thousand slices instead of a hundred. Brave Combo was very lucky that we were as established as we were when everything went wonky, but we still spent a lot of time trying to figure out which way was up. Every musician, artist, PA engineer, club owner, booking agent, radio DJ, studio recording engineer, etc. were in the same WTF boat. The explosion of social media helped at first, but, eventually, as everyone knows, too much is just too much. Right? Everything’s a cluttered mess now and we’re all too busy getting the basics done to tend to anything extra. That’s just reality. Anyway, I’m only pondering all of this because it’s market research. To be honest, I’m not glued to any idea about how the public is supposed to react to, respond to or interact with music. I can see a future with no live musicians or tangible objects, such as LPs or CDs, just music in its most pure form, barely out of someone’s head, straight to someone else’s head. Nothing scares me along these lines, but I would rather make money than not make money. So, here in 2019, I have to ask myself, on a fairly regular basis, what’s my best way to communicate and share any artistic efforts I feel inclined to release. How much more of me can this world tolerate! This is important. The new album of recordings we just finished may not go beyond the streaming realm. Video has become just as important as the music, in terms of what a viewer/listener is inclined to do. Pretty much, for me, this just has to be seen as a big, weird-ass game with impossible rules, but a game, none-the-less. And, for what it’s worth, selling one’s art has always been as important as making it. Jeez, there’s also been a massive swing toward tribute acts in recent years. Baby-boomers have the money and they want to hear Queen and Steely Dan (and Billy Joel and Tom Petty). Maybe Brave Combo should become a Kinks/Procol Harum band. I loved both of them and have most of their recordings and already know most of their big hits. We could even morph into a Merle Haggard band. I know a set’s worth of his songs, too. Don’t be surprised! Que sera, sera!
Okay, this is how I see it; the way things are. The Conservative Right folks are straight-up scared about lots of things and over-the-top freaked out when it comes to gun regulations, LGBTQ issues, pro-choice vs. pro-life, immigration, etc. and nothing will change their passionate feelings about these core topics. The Liberal Left folks are scared of a collapsing eco-system, evil corporations and greedy rich people, loose gun controls and feel strongly, with bleeding, yet optimistic hearts, about creating an even playing field for all, even if it means propping up the less fortunate, which likely translates into higher taxes. Many on the right are Evangelical Christians who firmly believe God is on their side. The left are convinced that’s ego-driven insanity. No left-wingers are going to jump on board with the Evangelicals and vice-versa. So, what do we do? Maybe, if we citizens of the United States are going to be this polarized, and, apparently, we are, we can try to just start classifying everything in the simplest terms possible. For instance, I could write a song with lyrics such as,
I don’t mind if you’re white, just please don’t be a jerk
I don’t mind if you’re black, just please don’t be a jerk
I don’t mind if you’re brown, just please don’t be a jerk
I don’t mind if you’re red or yellow or green or blue
Just please don’t be a jerk
You know, if you have a different point-of-view, by all means, express it. Get it off your chest, just don’t be a jerk about it. None of us, cause we’re still alive, knows the ultimate truths yet, anyway. So, say your piece and get out of the way so someone else can do the same. If I can see that your convictions are sincere and that you’re not just a pissed off me-me-me ninny, I can respect and accept some pretty crazy philosophies. Look what I’ve done with myself for the last 40 years. I don’t eat meat, I’m not a big fan of beer or alcohol, I lean way to the left, I see the potential perils in national/cultural pride and I only wear what I wear (no lederhosen, Hawaiian shirts or puffy sleeves for me). Yet, I have spent hours and hours and hours having a blast at polka festivals all over the USA with humans who are my opposite. What’s wrong with that? If someone is just pleasant, I’m cool with it. I feel sorry for my Evangelical friends who have been brainwashed and conned and I’m sure they’re worried that my beliefs are paving my path to hell. Whatever, who gives a shit, just don’t be a jerk. Stop trying to be so tough and scary. Most likely, you won’t be attacked on the street corner tonight. Put your gun away, little fella. It’ll be alright. How about a game of checkers and a root beer? We’ll get Lucy to come over and dance on her pole. No, wait, can’t do that anymore. Okay, how about some kale with that root beer, then.
RIP Ed Loftus, lead singer, keyboardist, and songwriter for Denton legends, Schwantz LeFantz. They were the cat’s pajamas of Denton bands when Brave Combo first started. We all got to be great friends during those amazing times. Ed was enormously talented, had a huge smile and was often the sharpest wit in the room. It’s hard to imagine him being gone.
Have I covered everything? Oh yeah, Brave Combo is playing lots of shows right now. Go directly to our itinerary and pick one or two and come out and lose your mind for a while. Did you know it’s POLKATIME?