I don’t think I know anyone personally that was injured or killed on September 11 (though, who knows what I’ll learn in the months to come). So, I can’t fully feel the pain and sense of loss that some people are experiencing. Sadness of that magnitude is hard to imagine. And there are simply no words of consolation that are adequate. However, I can share an unpleasant disorientation that’s permeating everything we all do right now. It’s impossible to shake. Don’t even try. We know everything has changed. And no one can tell us how this situation will be addressed and resolved. I would like to think that we can turn something even as horrible as this into an opportunity for enlightenment and understanding. There will never be a better time for the United States to reach out to other countries and cultures for empathy and support. And if we care to examine the big picture, there will never be a better time to learn why some people hate us so much. This is about as logical and level-headed as I can be. Mainly, I’m just numb and unmotivated. If 5000+ innocent people had to die and 5000+ more had to be viciously injured, I want something positive to come of it eventually. That sort of human sacrifice simply must have a serious growth spurt attached to it. But any outcome I want just seems selfish. Perhaps I don’t want to feel guilty for enjoying myself. Maybe the whole notion of enjoyment and entertainment will change as well. Whatever, I guess the terrorists achieved their goal. But maybe too well. The devastation was so staggering, almost no one can condone it or find any degree of pleasure in it. It will never be the topic of mainstream humor. Mass destruction disaster films probably won’t be around for awhile. And maybe even normally violent, aggressive people will find it hard to muster up the energy to be mean right now.
On a related note, the release of our new CD, KICK-ASS POLKAS, has been postponed a little. We have decided the cover art is not appropriate for the mood of the times. 1000 copies were finished before we made this decision and we will be selling these directly to fans (at performances and by mail), but they are not going out to radio stations and will not be available in stores. We hope to have the new artwork ready to go right away, however and are optimistic the new version will be available by early October. The title stands. Anyway, in an attempt to move ahead into familiar territory, here is the September, 2001 newsletter. Most of it was written before the 11th.
Guess what? Alan Emert is back, playing drums for Brave Combo. He just loves us too much and can’t stay away for very long. He moved to Austin for a while and got that out of his system and the Cosmos rewarded him by pointing the way back to Denton. I’m not gonna say Denton is cooler than Austin, but it is cheaper and smaller. In Austin you can find everything you’re looking for except a parking space. In Denton, parking is a snap but your choices are a little limited. Denton is like a neighborhood garage sale. Austin is more like an upscale, trendy flea market. On a hipness scale, Denton hovers around a 3 or 4. Austin is a solid 10, but always threatening to plummet.
I saw some videotape of a baby wombat recently and decided I want a dog that looks like a wombat. I wonder where I could find something like that? Meercats are cool. Remember the old story about the meercat and the wombat? They wore similarly funny shoes and eventually got on each other’s nerves so badly that they sued each other. The meercat liked butter and radishes and the wombat preferred whiskey and granola bars. They couldn’t come together on anything except wearing dorky shoes and acting pompous all the time. You know, it was “Oh, really” this and “Oh, really” that. And no one can forget that adorable little song they sang, “Meercats Hate Wombats And Vice Versa.”
Speaking of old favorite songs, Brave Combo has been busy dusting off about a million of our “forgotten tunes.” At upcoming shows we’ll be playing “Our Imagined Image,” “Saxophone, Why Do You Weep?,” “Nothing Is Permanent,” “A Night On Earth,” “Human,” “”Hawaiian Medley,” “Nothing Earthly,” “La Negra,” “Hora Bialik,” “Mana Vu,” “What Is This Darkness?,” “Zosia” and “Jesusita En Chihuahua.” Plus, we’re adding several new things, including “Rondo Ala Turca,” by Mozart and the traditional polka, “Monday Morning.” And, we hope to have playable arrangements to “For Me,” “Walking Stick” and “Double Vision” soon. Our song list is insanely long (over 600, at last count), which is good and bad. It’s easy to fall back on the same 100 songs, cause a lot of our material is complicated and requires constant rehearsing to keep things running smoothly. Whatever, the challenge of remembering the chord changes and lyrics is actually kinda fun. I never mind starting a song over if it sucks the first time. So, come out and request your forgotten faves and watch us sweat with glee.
WHAT ARE WE LISTENING TO AND WHAT ARE WE DOING? Besides performing with Brave Combo and rehearsing, each of us has a personal life, full of excitement, drama and boredom. Here’s a little insight into the exotic world we call free time. Jeffrey has been listening to Bach, Hindemith, Drums and Tuba (his favorite band), Scrubby and the Dynatones (his other favorite band), John Coltrane, Randy Newman, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke and Eastern European folk music. He’s been busy recording (as has Alan) with the wonderful singer, Barbara Dane and is having fun with his new toy, an antique concert zither. Alan has been getting back to his roots and listening to “drum” music, featuring some of the greatest drumset players alive: Simon Phillips, Marco Minneman, Steve Smith, Dave Weckl and others. Also, he likes the song “Big Bad John” very much right now. He prefers the Johnny Cash release over Jimmy Dean’s. His current activities include smoking cigarettes, playing with his cats, watching movies, rebuilding his computer about every two weeks and moving into his new house. I, Carl, am crazy about the new hit-laden, college favorite, WEEZER CD. Other choice listening includes some Russian folk music, Protestant hymns, Colombian Cumbias and Tejano radio stations, which are usually kinda hit and miss. Spare time finds me cleaning house, riding my bike and eating ice cream in front of my dogs and cats. Bubba’s been diggin’ some Eastern European and Greek music. He’s busy banging away on his new drumset, walking around the park and drinking a lot of beer. He looks forward to having some dental work finished. The temporary crown is a drag. Danny’s casual listening has been dominated lately by a lot of children’s music (“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” etc.). Aggressive yard work has been keeping him sane.
I just finished an interesting project for a company called Funimation. They license Japanese animated shows and adapt them for American consumption. They’re the folks that made DRAGONBALL Z a huge hit. Anyway, I was hired to arrange and produce the opening and closing themes for three new shows: the original DRAGONBALL, BLUE GENDER and YU YU HAKUSHO. DRAGONBALL and DRAGONBALL Z are currently running on the Cartoon Network. The most bizarre aspect to this job was writing English lyrics to the theme songs. I was fortunate to work with some great musicians on this (a big plus for living in Denton). They made it easy for me.
Brave Combo has a track on a new release from Rhino Records, TEJANO PICANTE: TEX-MEX CLASSICS. It’s our recording of “Besos, Besitos,” which features Tony de la Rosa on accordion and originally appeared on our CD, MOOD SWING MUSIC. To say the least, we’re flattered to be in the company of so many legendary Tejano stars. And there’s a big picture of Bubba and me in the booklet. I never know, until something like this happens, how we’re perceived. Anyway, check it out. It’s a cool collection.
Okay, I made it through the newsletter. I hope everyone reading this finds a way to constructively deal with these immensely troubled times. I guess we’ll just wait and see what each new day brings. Brave Combo is still here and will continue to do what we do as long as people care to listen. I have faith that it will all make sense someday.