December 2021 is going away, but Covid-19 is here to stay. It was a strange holiday season. Plans were made and plans were canceled. Usually, in the first half of December every year Brave Combo plays two or three club shows somewhere in Texas, two or three city-sponsored holiday concerts in the DFW area and, of course, our classic zip through the Midwest with potential tour stops in four of our favorite cities: Lincoln, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Chicago. But 2021, taking its cues from 2020, has been way different. We decided it wasn’t quite time to pack folks into indoor venues, so we abandoned 3/4 of our normal annual routine early on and, as it turns out, feel like it was the right thing to do. But it still sucks. We were able to do three local shows and had a fine time rockin’ the Christmas classics, Brave Combo-style, but the fog is thick, and no one really knows the way out. Our friend, Mr. Omicron, has, apparently replaced air, based on the inevitability of becoming infected, so the new reality continues to resemble an old-style carnival funhouse maze with crazy mirrors, but without the damn cotton candy. I like cotton candy and have always been fascinated by it. Spun sugar. It immediately melts away when it enters your mouth. Cool colors, too. Overall, it seemed like a low yuletide. All of the actors in the Christmas ads on TV looked like they were faking it. I didn’t really buy anyone’s excitement and, frankly, didn’t even hear much holiday-themed music anywhere. It seemed to come and go, but time feels different, too. If you could turn time into an old-fashioned carnival funhouse maze with crazy mirrors, that’s how it feels. A new day is definitely dawning and it’s likely to be weirder than ever.
On the other hand, I like a challenge, which is one advantage to having lots of pets constantly squirming about. To make it workable for everyone, you must be turned on by the trial-and-error of it all. But all that nonsense aside, a change is being forced on us all, and some things will never be as they once were. Even before humans met the virus, live music, as a whole, was struggling. It was no longer a given that a substantial segment of the public would make listening to musicians play and sing their first choice for a night’s entertainment. Perhaps the new movers and shakers are simply getting their souls nourished another way. Or, perhaps the magic of live music doesn’t compute as an escape for most people these days. And I totally get it. It takes a lot for a music performer to not come off as a poser. Often it just looks like shtick; like there’s no real substance or any good reason for all the “mystery.” But, you know what? Intriguing, fantastic, beautiful music is actually everywhere if you have a smartphone or some kind of computer. And to find it all you have to do is care enough to wonder and look and listen. Authenticity is not dead. The world is overflowing with inspired and inspiring sounds. The big difference between now and, let’s say, the 1990s, is that 25-30 years ago the common person put live music, from the local bar to the nearby arena, on a pedestal. A musician/performing artist was the coolest thing you could be and almost everyone agreed with and supported that impression. And in those days, and earlier, the public looked to musicians and other edge dwellers to define “hip.” Most ordinary, run-of-the-mill people felt inadequate in that department. Also, there just weren’t that many outlets for information about the groovy music scene, and when you were able to snag a mention in ROLLING STONE or SPIN you automatically reached a bunch of the “right” people; those who sorta thought the way you did. Now the scene is a jam-packed multi-layered mish-mash of whatever, with no central focus; constant info overload. And it had to eventually turn into this. Events and trends and styles have all done what they were destined to do. As a guitarist, I can’t own my very first distortion booster (fuzz box) and hear it for the first time again. I had to move on from that new and exciting moment. And once the momentum of “what’s next” kicked in, old didn’t necessarily cut it anymore. And it doesn’t for me now, either.
Brave Combo has always been more about looking forward than backward; to take the past, try to reinvent it and present it in a new way. And now, even in the current crowded landscape, the goal is the same; to make as much money as possible and get the hell out of the damn game before it completely collapses! Just kidding. That’s goal number two. Number one is to find the hole and jump through it. And, in defense of 2021/2022, if I have something brilliant to share with anyone, I can knock out a video in minutes and have it, theoretically, in your brain instantly. And all I must do is come up with something mind-blowing, which gets your attention and holds it for a few seconds. Therefore, I’ve decided to write only one-minute songs for a while. If you want ‘em to be longer, just play ‘em twice. See! Fun is easy!
Don’t forget to check our itinerary on occasion. New dates will be added, as we assess the current Covid-19 threat level. AND we’re also planning to delight you with better virtual and live-streaming Brave Combo experiences in the new year. Maybe more than you care to endure. In fact, BC new music assault is coming your way soon.
Goodbye, dear 2021!