We’re cutting a slice north, right through the center of Kansas and I’m sad. The road is state highway 81 and we’ve driven it many times over the years. Usually, we’ll take a few minutes and visit one of our favorite natural roadside oddities, Rock City (not to be confused with the more famous Rock City near Chattanooga, TN). The Kansas Rock City is a bunch of automobile size irregularly shaped balls of lava strewn about a grassy area about the size of a football field, near Minneapolis, Kansas. Some are as small as Port-a-Potties and some are as big as the Donut (our bus/truck thing). They’re prehistoric and black and have a subtle glossy surface. And you can climb and play on them. Several have little signs attached, printed with spacey names, like “Earth Saucer.” There is an abandoned gift shop at the entrance to the site and it looks like someone tried to charge admission at one time. But it’s just too far off the highway to attract many out-of-towners and local interest seems pretty low. Man, if Denton had a Rock City, I’d go out there every day. But my favorite TV show is Teletubbies….really. Anyway, the reason I’m sad is that we don’t have a few minutes to spare and we won’t be climbing on big lava balls today. I love Rock City. But, we did have a delicious lunch in Wichita and I ate some spinach. I crave spinach, especially raw, almost daily. Time for spinach means no time for Rock City. Spinach – 1, Rock City – 0. Big contest in Kansas. The prize is time. Someday there may be game shows where contestants can win time. “And the Grand Prize is a week!”
Speaking of time, I barely have enough time to think, much less, do. This insane summer continues. After our trip to Scandinavia, we did a tour of the Northeast United States which I barely remember. I know we performed every night somewhere, but I can’t tell you who was where. I like this feeling. I’d better, ’cause here we go again (Lincoln, Chicago, St. Louis, Miami, Tampa. Check our itinerary for details). I wonder why we didn’t squeeze Australia or Libya into the summer. Slacker Combo.
Seriously, the Northeast Tour was a blast, but very demanding. I lost my voice toward the end, a day before we picked up a last-minute gig, opening a show for country band BR5-49 in Central Park. This was the afternoon of the day of our show at the Bottom Line. We filled in for Johnny Paycheck, who was ill. Astonishingly, all went very well. I had no idea that Johnny Paycheck fans liked “The Hokey Pokey” so much. Earlier that day a New York City policeman entered the Donut to look for propane before we could go through the Lincoln Tunnel. I guess they thought the Donut was some kind of Bauhaus RV.
Hey, Miami fans, August 27 is our first time to perform in your beautiful city. Please come out and gush over us. We’re doing a show with our ultra-popular friends, La Mafia. It will be a cumbia fest.
More stuff. Uh oh! Westfest is upon us again. It’s September 5 and 6 in the small, central Texas town of West, a few miles north of Waco. Everyone within sight of these words should come and experience this event. It’s rowdy and more. Polkas, beer and Czech culture. I guess it’s officially polka season. The Friday night before Westfest, Brave Combo will be at the Oklahoma Germanfest in the Bricktown area. Two weeks later we return to the Addison, Texas Oktoberfest and on September 25 we’ll be at Oktoberfest ’98 in Houston.
But the big news of the month is Brave Combo in downtown Texarkana on Sunday, September 13. Half of the band will be in Texas, half in Arkansas. This is my hometown. My parents and assorted relatives will be there with a handful of friends. Beyond that, Brave Combo is not well-known in Texarkana. No radio stations will play our music and there’s never really been an appropriate venue for us to develop an audience. New Country music is what’s happening. The promoter is an old friend and he likes to bring us into town on occasion. It’s always a bizarre experience for me and the really cool thing is, our stage will be only a couple of blocks from the Woolworth store where I bought my first polka records twenty-something years ago. Happy Louie, Larry Chesky, Andew Walter, Kenny Bass all plucked from the cut-out bin for a dollar a piece. I had no idea where this would lead. I thought I was going to be a graphic designer. Que sera, sera.