Brave Combo opened for The Red Hot Chili Peppers once, in Kansas City, at a club called Parody Hall. It was Jeffrey, Bubba, Mitch and myself. We drove all the way to Kansas City to play this one gig for $500 (plus the club promised us our own headlining date in the near future). The club was packed (around 500-600 people) and the vibe was great. We played one of the weirdest shows we’ve ever played and it worked. The audience loved us. Insanely fast polkas go over really well in that kind of situation. And the Chili Peppers were, indeed, amazing. It was a rocking night and then we probably drove the eight hours home to Denton, clearing about $115 each, after paying for gas. And the club gave us our own headlining gig the next time we made it to Kansas City. I think that show was good, too, but I barely remember anything about it. The management was very nice to us. I do remember that. It’s helpful to have a good relationship with club owners, booking agents, and promoters. The manager of a club in Springfield, Missouri, I think, pulled a gun on a blues band Jeff was in, once, when they tried to get paid. A super hipster promoter/local celebrity took me into a stairwell after we played our set at the legendary Peppermint Lounge in New York City and tried to pay me less than we’d agreed on. He started acting sorta tough, but, somehow, I stood firm and got all of our money. I felt like I’d truly arrived!
Speaking of playing far away from home, we often hear from fans around the country, asking when/if we ever plan to come back to where they are. It might be New York City, Los Angeles, or Davenport, Iowa. It’s enormously gratifying to know we still have fans all over the place, eager for our return, but it’s also enormously frustrating because getting to them has become more hassle than fun, no matter how one travels. On top of that, live music, in general, has been struggling for over a decade and, of course, there’s Covid 19, which has literally, gobbled up more than three years of normal performing/touring activities. It’s been very hard to predict which shows may or may not happen and, frankly, when it would be safe for us to venture out and encourage others to come out and look at us. Bands want and need the venues to be full, so touring will be profitable, but if they’re too full, which used to be a desirable thing, someone could get sick. That’s a sucky situation. Plus traveling comfortably, with several adults who are not particularly interested in too many negative surprises, is more expensive than ever. No surprise there. So, myriad things have affected our ability to feel good about “hitting the road” again. Jeez, we even have to brace ourselves for a routine trip to Austin or Houston. There are lots of reasons the traffic might just stop, over and over, sometimes almost doubling the driving time it should take. If I could snap my fingers and be backstage at First Avenue, in Minneapolis or the Tractor Tavern, in Seattle or Fitzgerald’s, in Chicago or The Beachland Ballroom, in Cleveland, or anywhere, really, I would be there yesterday, as would everyone else in the band. We still seriously dig playing the music we play and we continue to add more groovy tunes to the repertoire. Friday’s gig at the National Accordion convention was, in my opinion, a spectacular musical happening. Unique, in many ways, just as it should have been. I wish every Brave Combo fan in the world could have been there. We were joined by two ridiculously gifted accordionists, Alex Meixner, and Cory Pesaturo and I had the pleasure of just picking out the songs, counting them off, and expressing glee as I played. Total fun. Anyway, I know we’re probably not just next door to where you live, but you really can plan a vacation around one or two of our shows. While we’re all waiting for the touring-band landscape to become more user-friendly, why not check our itinerary and make us a destination? More dates to be added soon!
Speaking of reaching the masses, WORLD CAFÉ, a long-running NPR program out of WXPN, in Philadelphia, recently showed up in Denton to interview Jeffrey and me for an upcoming feature on our musical hometown. We all hung out at the BC World Headquarters and I showed them a bunch of mannequins I bought when the local Macy’s closed down. The host, Raina, and producer, Miguel, were quite decent human beings and seemed impressed with the deal I got on the mannequins. The show will air in the middle of April. Set your watch!
I better stop writing. It’s 4:30 in the morning. Bedtime. There are some cool things coming up, live, live-streaming, and recording. By the way, don’t worry about how unsettled and bizarre the world appears to be right now. As well, try to ignore how flimsy and vulnerable everything feels and how everyone’s sorta losing it. Some night, stay up until well after midnight and drive around wherever you live. The streets will be much, much less crowded, if not empty. I often run to our office in downtown Denton after 2:00 am. I may see only four or five cars the whole time I’m out. Things are quiet. Most people have decided to become unconscious for several hours by then, always missing the best time of the day; when you can think. But what do I know. I’m just me. Goodnight. Or good morning.
Gary McKee says
good blog, take care of yawlselves. George Koudelka has an interesting mannequen from the store in Schulenburg when it closed down, its Dale Evans and a cardboard Roy Rogers….
steve cooley says
Hi Carl, I’m sorry you won’t be making it to my town Davenport IA but I’m coming to see you at The Sugar Creek Slavic Festival in Kansas City in June! Can’t wait to polka! Been a fan for years, my buddy Pete Noth who lives in KC turned me on to you guys many many years ago! WILL COME SEE YOU WHENEVER I CAN!
John Bowen says
Somebody has to feed the cats.
Patricia Bearer says
I will see you in Eureka Springs!! I can’t wait.
Hey Carl, Nice piece of writing. I miss Denton sometimes. Still loving Nashville though. I remember being very impressed at your first gig at the new Student union on campus. What a long strange trip it’s been.
Keep at it! Jim Hargrave – Schwantz Lefantz
Bonnie J Green says
Kansas City here we come