Welcome back, to another installment of WHY AM I DOING THIS? See, Brave Combo started out as a band, which simply made music, and played gigs for a long, long time. Gigs all over the place, including many very unusual locations. Too many to even fathom, actually. Countless people, faces, shadowy figures and weird morphing shapes. Everything was crucial, but funny. We had to take ourselves seriously, yet we better not dare. It has always felt like the whole thing could just stop at any moment. So, when COVID-19 hit, 42 years after the band began, I said, “I knew it!” The immediate ending of our live music shows wasn’t exactly as I’d expected, though. I thought the world surely would have had enough of us by the mid-1980s. Six or seven years would have been a good run for bands in those days. Well, as it turned out, nothing better came along and people just kept on enticing us to do this and that, here and there. And we had no real plan, ever. Our big strategy was to do well enough at whatever venue to be invited back. And we worked it. All bands, at our level, all over the world were working it. There was a network of alternative music, which, somehow, managed to thrive and stay in touch with everyone else in the “scene.” During the first fifteen years of Brave Combo, this was all accomplished, mind you, without even a cell phone, not to mention the internet and GPS. Fax machines came into common use right as we were starting to travel overseas. That was exciting, corresponding with promoters around the world, via a magic communication portal. But the craziest thing was that people wanted to bring us to their events and not only pay us, but cover our travel expenses, too. What? Really?
So, the train just kept on rolling. New musicians hopped on board. Some stayed, some had to get off, some got off and jumped back on board. And the idea, the concept, kept expanding and its reach grew longer and wider. We dug deeper into both the sorta mainstream hipster world and the vast and varied polka world and on occasion they collided, but were usually on two different planets and that reality remains so today. And, speaking of today, here we are, approaching the middle of 2021 and the rules couldn’t be more skewed. Live music is a little abused puppy right now, scared to move in any direction and pretty insecure about its future. And who can blame it for being so sad and frightened? Even before the pandemic, if you can remember, live music was in a downward spiral. The audiences everywhere were dwindling, for myriad reasons, but mainly because there was simply too much of too much. Life had evolved into one big distraction, with the notion of actually taking the time to go to a club for a couple of hours, increasingly less likely. Plus, musical artists started oozing out of every pore. YouTube, Facebook, you know. You’ve heard of those things, right? Whatever, stuff happened and humans moved forward in the ways they were inclined to move and that’s where we are. Which brings me back to my original point. Why am I doing this? And, indeed, I have asked myself this over and over for decades. But the question is more poignant now, right here, right now, because nothing can be defined anymore, not even the question. The virtual world is as big as the physical world, maybe bigger. Our ability to manipulate perceptions is falling all over itself with possibilities. As I’ve been saying, it’s a cartoon world and anyone can write the storyboard because anything is possible either in reality or in someone’s belief structure. And oddly enough, I find myself strangely comfortable with this screwed-up mess. A lot of it fits my brain. And that’s why I keep doing this. The big picture of Brave Combo just fits my brain. I like things topsy-turvy. I want and expect every day to be entertaining in unexpected ways. Normal has never much fun for me, even when I was a kid. If it was popular, I tended to shy away from it, figuring if too many people were into it, there had to be something wrong. You know that song, “Candy Man?” Didn’t you wonder how so many people could possibly love it or even like it just a tiny bit? I finally figured out Brave Combo is a constant outsider. We never really fit and that often makes us the perfect fit. Whatever, that big ol’ future ahead of us is unwritten and ain’t waiting around for you to add words to the script, so it’s best to roll like crazy with the “insanity” and never take yourself too seriously, unless you’re driving a car or something like that. You still have to be responsible, no matter what, or people will not like you.
Speaking of such things, I have been writing in the previous two newsletters about THE POINT. My focus has been on the Golden Rule and what it really means. Boil it down. Why are we being told not to judge people? To cut to the chase, this has nothing to do with being nice to others. It has to do with not closing doors on yourself. Simple. It’s about you, not them. So, if you care to continue trying to make sense of this, here is the next and final step.
Stop using the words “Good,” “Bad,” “Right” and “Wrong.” Try to completely stop using those four words and any other words which imply black and white judgment. Don’t voice them at all, ever, under any circumstances. Figure out different ways to express how you feel. Do this for as long as you can. A year or two should work. That’s it. Super easy, yet super difficult. You must be completely devoted to the exercise, without questioning it. Just do it. If you can pull it off, you’ll be amazed! Okay, enough of that weird-ass evangelizing. Back to business.
Brave Combo is actually playing an actual real live normal gig soon. Check our itinerary, if you don’t believe me. It’s The National Polka Festival in Ennis, Texas. We will be performing in the enormous, and well-ventilated, Sokol Hall on Sunday, May 30. Get vaccinated and come on out! Social distancing will be enforced, of course, and masks will still be encouraged. So, let’s get our temperatures checked at the door and POLKA (with someone you know very well)!! Sounds like a party to me! I hope everyone in Brave Combo still knows all the songs. We’ll see, won’t we? Admit it, though, it would be more entertaining if we were screwing up right and left and forgetting stuff and scratching our heads a lot, right? Well, there’s a chance. Remember, the future is unwritten.