Hmmm, let’s see. There’s Russia, continuing its embarrassing, yet deadly and inhumane, invasion of Ukraine, Hamas massacring hundreds of Israelis in their own country, Israel wailing on Gaza, attempting to wipe out Hamas, with tensions brewing all over that region AND another wave of mass shootings in our own great land. HAPPY HALLOWEEN! BE VERY SCARED!
Speaking of Halloween, for Brave Combo it usually signals the end of Oktoberfest/Polka season. And, indeed, for 2023, it does. Another busy September and October have come to an end, with relief and satisfaction, yet, mixed reviews from Brave Combo. Some festivals are really well-run, with live music properly put on a pedestal, at least as tall as the one for beer. It’s a mixed bag, but rather easy for us figure out, as far as Brave Combo is concerned. I’ll just say, we are probably the most picky (pickiest?) band in the land these days. “Sure, we’ll be happy to play your event, if you meet OUR criteria!” I know that sounds a bit prima donna-ish, but if everyone had to deal with the insane stuff bands/musicians have to endure on a regular basis, everyone would understand immediately. In the best of circumstances, it’s still hard work being sure you, as an artist, live up to the client’s expectations, which also get higher as your fee goes up. Generally, I’m ready for everyone, including Brave Combo, to be just a little bit smarter about everything. I also know not much is likely to change. LET’S POLKA!
Speaking of polka, and I often do, it’s interesting how the word “polka” has become a battle cry, of sorts, for a growing bunch of musicians. It’s not just for Brave Combo anymore. I always knew there was an appealing punk aspect to daring someone to dig polka music in a typical rock music bar, but we also got used to being one of only a handful of folks willing to be that brave. Now the connection between punk and polka is rock solid and not perceived as goofy to almost anyone anymore. Polka is a musical form, available to all, however they choose to appreciate it. It is not a tool for heritage pride. Polka doesn’t belong to anyone!
GREAT ADVICE. Hey, if you get a “SPAM CALL,” don’t get mad, just answer your phone, whistling. The disruptive call will simply remind you to practice your whistling for about 15 seconds, then hang up, if the caller hasn’t done so already. This makes everyone happy.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MONTH! Brave Combo will be live-streaming an actual rehearsal, from our actual rehearsal studio, with actual instruments and lively spirits. Uncensored and honest! Up close and intimate! Meet the new Brave Combo members, learn things you never knew, make song requests, see the light! This will be a glimpse into the future. Don’t miss this rare opportunity. Regrets are a drag! More details are coming, but mark your calendar now! Probably around 7 pm, Denton time!
JAMES “BIG BUCKS” BURNETT. So, if you live long enough, you might get to know a lot of people. In addition, if you perform on stage a lot in a variety of venues and spaces, you might meet even more people. And if you tour all over everywhere for decades, you will, consequently, add to your acquaintances dramatically. Friends and vision-sharers are, literally, everywhere. Plus, people in this community of weirdos and truth-seekers tend to hang out together and you rack up folks in your life doing nothing. I guess I am living and have always lived, as an adult, an alternative lifestyle, as many of my friends have, purpose-driven by an obsession to be creative in a non-functional way; art before logic, so to speak. Well, a guy I met many years ago, just hanging out at a cool little record store/kitsch museum on Avenue A, in Denton, by the NTSU (now UNT) campus, was the proprietor, named James Burnett. But everyone called him Big Bucks, which eventually became just Bucks. So, we talked quite often and laughed as much as we talked. The world was stupid and tragically funny and worthy of examining. He liked my band, Brave Combo, and myriad other bands. To say the least, his awareness and grasp of the nuances of pop culture were astounding and his viewpoint was usually spot on. One day, Big Bucks asked me if we would be interested in doing some shows with Tiny Tim and, ultimately, recording an album. We were interested and it happened. The album GIRL was co-produced by Brave Combo and Big Bucks Burnett. That led to a lot of unforgettable moments. The album, released on Rounder Records, was very well received. In fact, a double-LP 25th-anniversary album was recently released on Ship-To-Shore Records and it included a bunch of cut-out moments. Bucks and Justin Martell, the record company owner (and Tiny Tim super fan) worked really hard on it, resulting in a beautiful piece of art. Well, I think you know where this is going. Big Bucks lost his life, suddenly and shockingly, at his current store in Dallas, 14 Records, earlier this month. There’s a lot to say, yet, not much to say. Google the guy. His history is astounding; the people he influenced and with whom he actually became friends. He made a gathering, a party, just by being there. He was kind, yet, his bullshit radar was always keen. Now, in a flash, he’s gone. I’ve been working on some “lost” Tiny Tim tracks myself and was excited about playing some recent mixes for him. That ain’t gonna happen. So now I am more determined than ever to make this greater than great, somehow; to make it relevant on the highest level possible. I hope to have it available for you to hear before Christmas.
Okay, there you go. Brave Combo has said adios to the 2023 Oktoberfest/Polka season, with fresh insights and a clearer vision and now we are sliding into November and December with a little time to think and prepare everyone for what’s next. If you’re interested, please pay attention. But now, of course, I gotta check on some cats downtown. Have a fab whatever and don’t forget that you can think for yourself.