How did the band get started?
Brave Combo was the brainchild of Carl Finch. He formed the band back
in 1979 by recruiting Tim Walsh, Dave "Tito" Cameron and Lyle Atkinson.
Their debut recording was Polkamania on Carl's own label, Four
What kind of music do they
name a few styles: polka, waltz, schottische, mambo, two-step, hora, rhumba,
cumbia, salsa, merengue, guaguanco, huapango, ska, samba, cha cha, stroll,
foxtrot, Muzak, twist, ondo, tango, oberek, bubblegum, bossa nova, ranchera,
charanga, bolero, dirge, conjunto, zydeco. Oh, yeah...and rock.
Where does Brave Combo call home?
Denton, Texas -- home base of Brave Combo -- is a college town 42 miles
north of Dallas with an approximate population of 68,000. Denton has a
strong music scene and is very supportive of its hometown nuclear polka
band. Brave Combo plays at clubs there regularly and usually does an outdoor
show at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival in the spring and a Christmas concert on the courthouse lawn the Thursday
after Thanksgiving. For more information about Denton and its environs,
check out the Denton Home Page.
Does the band play requests
at their shows?
Yes, Brave Combo is always happy to receive song requests from the audience,
and almost always plays them. (Though they can't guarantee it will be
at the show you are currently attending...)
Can I get them to autograph my CD?
Yep, no problem, just attend a live show and take your album up to them
afterward. Jeffrey tends to sign with Japanese characters, though, so
your friends may not be convinced.
Can I hire the band for
my own private show?
Sure!! Brave Combo is still available as a "matrimonial entertainment
unit" (BC was the band chosen by Talking Heads front man, David Byrne,
for his wedding reception) or for whatever other event you would like
them to enhance. Contact the band's office at
940-387-0860 to obtain information on scheduling the band at your club
or for your very own performance.
How can I get foreign releases?
Foreign releases are tricky business. The albums are no longer in print, but you
can give some of the second hand Internet record sites such as gemm.com or auction
sites like ebay.com a try.
What's the vegetarian connection?
Carl and his wife Jane are strong supporters of vegetarianism, a subject
Carl discussed with Indigo Vegan in an interview in the Dallas Vegetarian Magazine. The official Brave
Combo sandwich is, as it happens, a vegetarian delight. Other band
members also have their own special dietary habits; the drum section has
been known to subsist on apples and olive oil while on tour.
Has Brave Combo ever been
in the movies?
out the 1995 film Late Bloomers in which Brave Combo appears in
the role of ... a wedding band. Brave Combo's version of Recuerdos is included on the soundtrack of the 1999 Academy award winning short
subject documentary, The Personals: Improvisations
On Romance In The Golden Years. The Mathew Perry/Salma Hayek vehicle Fools Rush In features Brave Combo originals Linda Guerita and Nothing Is Permanent .If you squint your ears during the gas
station robbery scene of Feeling Minnesota you can hear Brave Combo's
version of Jesusita en Chihuahua being squeaked out of the overhead
speakers and Bubba's fabulous cha cha Laura is
not only the accompaniment for the the prostitute scene in the Clive Barker
thriller Lord of Illusions but also the music in the bar visited
by Mickey Rourke's character in the 1996 release, Bullet. Dulcecita and What Is This Darkness? were used in the HBO movie, Quick.
The straight-to-video 1998 release, Meeting Daddy contains two
Brave Combo songs, Nothing Is Permanent and Buscando
Tu Corazon. If you want to hear three seconds (literally) of the Brave Combo song Two Marys, check out the big dance scene
in the sci-fi send up Invasion (aka Top Of The Food Chain). Brave
Combo's rockin' version of Happy Wanderer was part of a sing-along
between Ben Stiller and Christopher Walken's characters in the 2004 summer
release, Envy. In David Byrne's 1986 flick True Stories,
Mr. Finch can be seen modeling a cinder block pattern suit during the
fashion show. Also, you can catch a glimpse of Carl and Bubba in the accordion
marching band and if you are extremely vigilant Jeffrey with his band, Banda Eclipse in the parade scene. Music by Carl and Banda Eclipse are included on the soundtrack. "Julida" is featured in Les Blank's
documentary about polka music In Heaven There Is No Beer. The band's version of "Jingle Bells" is featured at the end of the short film, Christmas Caper featuring the Penguins from the kid's movie, Madagascar. Christopher Walken warbles along to a car radio playing Brave Combo's "Happy Wanderer" in the Jack Black/Ben Stiller film, Envy.
How about BC on TV?
the March 21, 2004 episode of The Simpsons entitled
Day" the animated version of Brave Combo provided the entertainment
at Springfield's Oktoberfest! Included in the episode was the Brave
Combo original "Fill The Stein" and the closing credits featured
a Combo-ized take on the show's theme song! Read all about it in these
articles from The
Texarkana Gazette, and the Dallas
Observer along with a LA
Weekly interview with the show's creator,
Matt Groening. The band's music has also been used during scenes in television shows such as Ugly Betty, Malcolm in the Middle andHistory Detectives.
of Brave Combo's other television appearances include the Jerry Lewis MDA
telethon, Rich Hall's Onion World and they were the featured
act on such showcase programs as The Lonesome Pine Special and
Nebraska Arts Council's Backstage
In 2008 Brave Combo provided the entire score for the PBS animated series, As The Wrench Turns. The music from the serieswas nominated for an "Annie" from the International Animated Film Society. Other scores and theme music were recorded for shows on Fox Sports, ESPN and the Big Ten Network.
Brave Combo has recorded
music exclusively for television commercials for the Tampa Aquarium
and National Geographic and the theme song for the ESPN series, "Bowling
Night." "Busy Office Rhumba," from the album, No,
No, No, Cha Cha Cha was the theme music for the short-lived Fox
network's "Bakersfield P.D" and other Brave Combo songs have
been used as background music on such shows as NBC's "Ed"
and "Normal, OH" on the Fox Network. U.S. ice dancers Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow chose "Recuerdos,"
from the same album, for their 1994 Olympics performance. Punsalan and
Swallow also tapped Brave Combo to record an "Elvis medley"
for their free dance program in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Brave Combo also has provided
the music for animated station identifications drawn by Eyebeam cartoonist, Sam Hurt for the Austin Music Network. Sam also made a video for the song, "The
Hokey Pokey," which played at Chuck E. Cheese entertainment centers
and now can be viewed on the website of the video's director, Chan Chandler www.chanchandler.com (Look in the Vault).
Are there books about Brave
yet, but in the horror novel Animals by Skipp & Spector, the
main character, a werewolf bartender laments "Band
nights were the worst, especially when acts like Brave Combo or the Flamin'
Caucasians booked in and the crowd got all hot and bothered." In their
travelogue The Mad Monks on the Road , Michael Lane and Jim Crotty mention their stop to catch a set by the
punk polka band, Brave Combo. Hiroshi Matsumura's World Music Declaration,
published in Japan, devotes a chapter to Brave Combo. One of the character
in Richard Grant's novel, Tex and Molly in the Afterlife, describes
a Brave Combo recording as "a song that seemed to have been spawned
by a mating of rockabilly and Polish wedding favorites." The Sensuous
Vegetarian Barbecue by Chelf and Biscotti includes a recipe for the Brave Combo Sandwich. Check out the articles, reviews,
and interviews on this web page for plenty of BC reading material.
Who is that woman on Humansville who is complaining about all the noise before
the song, "Move"?
That's an actual message from Jeffrey's home answering machine, with one
of his neighbors (nicknamed "The Bat") threatening to report him to the
authorities for disturbing the peace on a night when he wasn't even home.
Have Any Other Bands Covered Brave Combo Songs?
Sure! Check out California-based band Snufkin's funk/ska take on both "What Is This Darkness"
and "Do Something Different." For lots of fun, try to hunt
down a copy of Brahman,
a Japanese rock band's spin on the polka, "Flying Saucer".
Where is Humansville?
It's in Missouri. The liner notes for the album Humansville relate
the story of how its title was chosen. "One time after playing a club
in Springfield, Missouri, we decided to drive out of town a little and
find a motel on the road to Kansas City (our destination for the next
night's gig). After driving northwest on state Highway 13 for about
an hour, we saw a sign that said "Humansville-Next
Exit." So we took the exit and drove around town
awhile. It was 3:00 AM and aside from our van, nothing
was moving. It was a shame we didn't find a motel, 'cause we really wanted to stay in Humansville."
What is that big lollipop-shaped
instrument is played
by Brave Combo's former percussionist, Joe
The instrument is officially called a lagerphone. It is a spring-loaded
work of art-on-a-stick, covered with beer bottle caps, honestly procured
hotel room keys and their fobs. It's listed under Joe's credit on the
album Polkas For A Gloomy World and can be heard at the end of
"Hosa Dyna" and on "Pije Kuba" and "In Heaven There Is
How can I get my own lagerphone?
With a little ingenuity and a power drill, you can make your own at home.
However, if you lack either of the aforementioned things, we can put you
in touch with Charles Mayfield of Denton, Lagerphone Maker to the Stars,
and he'll fix you right up, for a price.
Why does"Adios Muchachos"
from Very Early Recordings and "I Get Ideas" on Kiss of Fire/Allumettes sound like the same song played at a different tempo?
Here's a clue: Both songs have the surname Sanders in the song writing
What's a kolache and why
is it BC related?
Kolaches are fabulous pastries of Czech origin. The dough is wrapped around a fruit
or poppy seed filling and then baked. It's customary to stop for kolaches
at The Czech Stop (BC's picture is up on the wall there!) en route
to West,Texas, the site of Westfest,
a large-scale Czechoslovakian festival on Labor Day weekend at which Brave
Combo has played for the past 15+ years.
What is the "Corndog Controversy"?
This is Brave Combo's alter ego as an acoustic marching band. The name
comes from the 1980s when Brave Combo played acoustically with accordion,
tuba, clarinet and washboard at the State Fair of Texas. The band saw
a carnival trade paper with the headline"Corndog Controversy" and adopted
Whose body is attached to the feet on the
cover of Music for Squares?
Brave Combo's "number one" fan, Gina. (She is the undisputed Queen of
BC groupies. She ended up marrying one of the band members.)
What's the deal with the
Tiny Tim collaboration?
Cultural impresario James "Big Bucks" Burnett first
masterminded this meeting of musical titans and after playing a session
together, Brave Combo and Mr. Tim decided to continue their collaboration.
The resulting album, Girl, combines Brave Combo's phenomenal fluency
in world music traditions with Tiny Tim's encyclopedic knowledge of early
twentieth-century American popular song to create a most unusual melding
In the song "Ice Machine
in the Desert," where does the line, "Like a fur covered spoon/it made
me think/Isn't life a funny joke," come from?
Before he started playing in a polka band, Carl Finch, author
of this song, was an earnest young art student who
was intrigued by Surrealism. The Surrealists
were a loosely knit band of writers and artists in Paris whose interest
in alternative versions of reality (such as dreams) was often expressed
in paradoxical imagery. One of the best examples is the 1936 Object or Breakfast in Fur 1936, by Meret Oppenheim, which
consists of a teacup, saucer, and spoon covered with fur (now in the collection
of the Museum of Modern Art in New York). Its impact comes from the combination
of the completely commonplace with the utterly unexpected. Much like Brave
Just where was the "Ice
Machine in the Desert"?
Gann reports that "The Red Jacket on Lower Greenville stands on an historic
BC location. I looked for a plaque but didn't see one. In a previous
incarnation this space was the home of Nick's Uptown and the original
ice machine in the desert. The ice machine was located around the corner
from the stage, so that the band passed it going from the stage to the
green room. After a set on that trés hot stage, many bands scooped
large cups into the ice machine on their way back stage. Woe to the
guitarist or drummer who forgot his bucket."
And liner notes for World Dance Music read:
ICE MACHINE IN
INSPIRED BY THE SIGHT OF AN ICE MACHINE IN THE BACK OF A DALLAS CLUB
AFTER A PARTICULARLY HOT NIGHT
Who's that gorgeous woman on the cover of No, No, No, Cha Cha Cha?
That's Candace, and, no, she doesn't want to date you.