I’m tired today from being either up too late or up too early every day this week, and the weather is nasty (winter is in it’s death throes), but it’s Friday and I have fun polka music running through my head.
Last night I saw Brave Combo in concert. They’re a “polka” band from Denton, Texas. Well, they are a Grammy award winning contemporary polka band, but they’re so much more than that. They fuse polka with a variety of music genres, and they also take traditional tunes and songs from other genres and turn them into polkas. I often describe them as “polka on acid” or something to that effect.
How did I end up being a fan of a polka band, you ask? Well, my friend L called me one day and informed me (I was not asked, I was told) that I had plans the following week on Thursday.
Me: OK, what?
L: We’re going to see Brave Combo.
L: A polka band.
Me: What? You’ve lost your mind right? And you’re messing with me, right?
L: NO. [laughing] I’m completely serious. You’ll love it. Trust me.
So I trusted her. And she was right. I loved it. I polka danced the night away and went into work the next day tired and sore and humming salsa tunes done “Brave Combo style” (aka turned into polkas). What you need to know is that this is not the first conversation I had with L that ended in her telling me “trust me”. And I had learned that trusting her was a good thing, as we always had a good time and she had yet to steer me wrong. She had, after all, introduced me to Ozomatli (an awesome band that I’m a HUGE fan of now), taken me to the local international festival and introduced me to many other local greats. So I trust her when she says “trust me” and wow, what a blast!
When I saw Brave Combo was coming to Philly, I KNEW I HAD TO GO. I had to represent. I also had to continue the tradition of dragging some poor unsuspecting soul along, much like L did to me, and L and I did to my friend J and our friend S. So I called my new friend M, and we had the “trust me” conversation and she agreed, but not without some trepidation. This was, after all, our first “trust me” situation.
Well, her trepidation was not warranted. We had a blast and she is now a Brave Combo fan. Even bought their Christmas CD (yes, Christmas carols as polkas – brilliant!).
They played at World Cafe Live!, a great venue here in Philly. It was a great place to see a show, plenty of space, good sound, and good food. And it was a typical Brave Combo show, if you can call them typical (which, honestly, you really can’t).
They played all the greats, including the “Hava Nagila Twist” (always a crowd favorite), and two of their classics: the Hokey Pokey and chicken dance, both done Brave Combo style. They played my favorite song “Do Something Different (Diappear)” and they did some salsa, some cumbia, a little swing and a few twists, and included some Chicago-style and Cincinnati-style polkas. Oh, and a few medleys for good measure. The only awkward point was when they forgot to turn Ann Marie’s mike on when it was her turn to sing, but Carl stopped them an we had a mike check interlude, which was entertaining in it’s own right. One of the best things about Brave Combo is their casual attitude and interaction with the audience. They make the experience personal and fun for everyone, even if you don’t dance. Although not dancing to the Hokey Pokey or the chicken dance is a crime.
So, pop on over to their web site and check them out. I took a couple of photos and put them up on Flickr (here and here), but be prepared, the quality is pretty bad since they were taken with my cell phone’s camera and the lighting wasn’t all that great (well, it’s a bar, what do you expect?).