Okay, I know everyone is sick of this topic. But seriously, if you love music, and live music, in particular, or theater or fine art events or sports or movies or anything which involves people gathering to experience and enjoy the creative efforts of your fellow humans, presented in community environments, please get vaccinated. You don’t have to be in the grip of so much fear. You don’t have to be hiding in the darkness of conspiracies and cults. Almost no good ever comes from a bunch of freaked-out folks who are ready to blame everything and anything for the shortcomings in their own lives. If people are joined together by common grievances and no one is ever offering logical solutions, it’s probably a good idea to find some new friends; some people who will, at least, point out the value of science. I guess it’s just too easy if there’s simply not enough worthwhile stuff going on in one’s life, to follow the laziest path and look for answers in obviously stupid places. It is super easy to place one’s butt in front of the computer or to pick up one’s phone, pretty much anytime, anywhere, and let all the available random “valuable” info fill one’s brain and get one all riled-up. This takes very little physical or mental effort, yet the reward is immediate and fulfilling, like sugar or heroin. In fact, this is the easiest way to avoid actual enlightenment, as one feels only empty “a-ha” moments. Whatever, I didn’t mean to veer from my original directive. Just go get the shot or shots. Jeez, they’re available everywhere now. Your excuses can only be ignorance or selfishness. You are either too dumb or too uncaring of others. A healthy community is the only way art and music and entertainment can exist for the masses. Don’t deny this to others. Don’t be a scaredy cat! I live with a few real scaredy cats, so I know of what I speak. If you come to my house, please don’t move too quickly, don’t talk too loudly, and don’t make any sudden movements! A couple of our cats can’t even handle us carrying a large box into a room. Yet, those same cats think it’s just fine to chase each other through the house at lightning speed anytime they want, occasionally breaking things. I’m talking to you Spot and Dot!
When I was in the 7th or 8th grade a friend asked me if I would be interested in forming a band with three other guys. This was at the request of a man named Mr. Kitchens. I don’t know where Mr. Kitchens came from or how my friend knew him, but this didn’t sound like a rock band. The only other kid I can remember being involved was my friend, Larry Head, who played flute. And Mr. Kitchens wasn’t interested in me playing guitar or piano. He wanted me to play French Horn. So, Larry and I showed up at Mr. Kitchens’ house one afternoon, with our flute and French Horn and there were two other guys there who I think I did know, but just can’t remember. And I don’t remember what instruments they played. So, there were us four young boys gathered at Mr. Kitchen’s house. He looked pretty old and said a few things. Then told us he wanted form a group of young musicians who would play songs like, “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” I believe he had sheet music for everyone. It was a bad idea. Squarer than square and damn bizarre. At that point my interest completely drained, and I realized I was just in a weird man’s house and wanted out. I’ll never know what Mr. Kitchens’ true motives were. Was he a musical visionary or just a dirty old man? Could have been either or both.
In the earliest days of Brave Combo, we got to know many famous rock music journalists of the day. Most of them lived in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. But, through working with Joe King Carrasco’s manager, Joe Nick Patoski, I met Ed Ward, who was living in Austin and was the main music writer/critic for the Austin American-Statesman. He liked Brave Combo and once or twice invited us to his house to eat some hot food. Over the years we would touch base, and he even took us on a private tour of East Berlin while he lived in Germany, working for The Wall Street Journal. Indeed, Ed was gruff and loud and overtly opinionated, but he always made me laugh and I got a few chuckles out of him, too. I guess you know where this is going. Ed died recently. As I’m writing this, I don’t know the reason for his death. I heard he was alone, at home. His support in the early days of Brave Combo, along with other writers/critics, like Joe Nick, Lester Bangs, Kurt Loder, and John Morthland, helped us tremendously in our attempts to reach wider audiences and I deeply appreciate it. RIP, Ed!
As I’ve mentioned before, Brave Combo is starting to play a little, here and there, and most of the venues are outdoors. However, about mid-August, our calendar goes full-on and we will back to playing 2-4 times a week until early November. Then I anticipate a crazy December. I must admit, I haven’t hated living with almost no serious obligations for over a year. I’ve enjoyed waking up day after day without thinking about gig issues and details. A lot goes into a Brave Combo show and a lot depends on us being reliable. We gotta deliver the goods and it can be stressful. Although I don’t like cleaning litter boxes, it’s been nice to have that be the big obligation of the day. And, like you, I have to face the fact that I didn’t make as many home improvements that I’d planned and now my abundant free time is about to dwindle. Long-distance touring won’t happen for a while, but if you don’t live near Texas and you must get your BC fix, come on down. The calendar will soon be full of options and it’s a lot easier for you to come to us than vice-versa. And you know we’re worth it!
As you emerge from your cocoon, keep Brave Combo in mind. And, believe it or not, the future is brighter than you might think! And don’t forget to, occasionally, laugh at the insanity.