Brave Combo at the Ballard Seafood Fest
|Genres||Latin Alternative, polka, worldbeat, Tex-Mex, salsa, Latin jazz, ska, dance music|
|Labels||Four Dots, Rounder Records, DenTone, Cleveland International|
Jeffrey Barnes (occasional)
|Past members||Ginny Mac
Little Jack Melody
Ann Marie Harrop
Brave Combo is a polka/rock/worldbeat band based in Denton, Texas. Founded in 1979 by guitarist/keyboardist/accordionist Carl Finch, they have been a prominent fixture in the Texas music scene for more than thirty-five years. Their music, both originals and covers, incorporates a number of dance styles, mostly polka, but also some Latin American and Caribbean styles like norteño, salsa, rumba, cha-cha-cha, choro, samba, two-step, cumbia, charanga, merengue, ska, etc.
As part of their perceived artistic mission to expand the musical tastes of their listeners, they have often played and recorded covers of well-known songs in a style radically different from the original versions. Examples include polka versions of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and The Doors' "People are Strange", The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" as a cha-cha, and "Sixteen Tons" as a cumbia. While their records may have a sense of humor, they are played straight and not usually considered joke or novelty records.
Awards and honors
In naming Denton, Texas, the "Best Music Scene" for 2008, Paste magazine cited Brave Combo as the "Grand Pooh-Bah of Denton bands" and said that "Brave Combo, is in many ways the template from which all the rest are cut: eclectic and artistically ambitious, with a high degree of musicianship and a strong DIY ethic."
- The band made a short appearance, as animated figures, on the March 21, 2004, episode of The Simpsons ("Co-Dependent's Day"). Series creator Matt Groening is a fan of the band and they appeared on the show at his personal request. In the episode, the band played a new original song called "Fill The Stein" and their version of "The Simpsons Theme" played over the closing credits.
- Finch and other band members made cameo appearances in Talking Heads leader David Byrne's 1986 movie True Stories, set in fictional Virgil, Texas. Finch can be spotted in the fashion show sporting a brick-patterned suit and in the parade leading the all-accordion marching band. (In real life, Brave Combo was David Byrne's wedding band.)
- They appear in the 1986 Hank Wangford Channel 4 television series The A to Z of C & W singing the Hank Williams song "Cold, Cold Heart".
- They contributed two songs to the Gumby album, released in 1989.
- Their song "Busy Office Rhumba" was used as the theme for the 1993 Fox television series Bakersfield P.D.
- They appear as a wedding band in the 1995 feature film Late Bloomers.
- In 2000, they appeared on the national telecast of the MDA Labor Day Telethon with Jerry Lewis dancing along to the music.
- They wrote and performed the theme song for the 2005 series "ESPN Bowling Night".
- The opening theme and other music for the 2008 PBS animated series Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns were produced by Carl Finch and composed, arranged, and performed by Finch and Brave Combo.
- Their live music video, "The Denton Polka", appears on the Bohemia Rising DVD Compilation (released in 2009), a collection of documentary shorts directed by Christopher Largen exploring rebellion and resistance to corporate demolition in their hometown of Denton, Texas.
- Included in Bob Dylan's 2009 Christmas release, Christmas In The Heart, the song "Must Be Santa", is performed polka-style. Dylan's arrangement is almost identical to the Brave Combo arrangement from their 1991 CD It's Christmas, Man!. In an interview published by Street News Service, Dylan acknowledged the influence of Brave Combo: "This version comes from a band called Brave Combo. Somebody sent their record to us for our radio show. They’re a regional band out of Texas that takes regular songs and changes the way you think about them. You oughta hear their version of 'Hey Jude'."
- They were featured on Bowling for Soup's album Sorry for Partyin', playing a polka version of Bowling For Soup's song "Belgium".
- The season seven episode "Fun on a Bun" of the animated science fiction comedy Futurama includes two original songs by the band plus a cover version of "The Chicken Dance". The episode debuted August 1, 2012, on Comedy Central.
US studio and live albums
|Date of release||Title||Label||Catalog||Type||Notes|
|1979||Polkamania||Four Dots||FD1003 & FD1004||Studio||released as two 7" discs|
|1981||Music For Squares||Four Dots||FD1005||Studio|
|1982||Urban Grown-ups||Four Dots||FD1006||Studio||four song EP|
|1982||Originals||Four Dots||Studio||released as cassette only|
|1984||World Dance Music||Four Dots||FD1010||Studio|
|1984||No Sad Faces||Four Dots||FD1012||Live|
|1987||Musical Varieties||Rounder||CD 11546||Studio||compilation from Four Dots releases plus two new tracks|
|1990||A Night On Earth||Rounder||CD 9029||Studio|
|1992||It's Christmas, Man!||Rounder||CD 3099||Studio||contents similar to It's X-mas, Man!|
|1993||No, No, No, Cha Cha Cha||Rounder||CD 9035||Studio||content similar to Japanese release|
|1994||The Hokey Pokey: Organized Dancing||DenTone||DT 1001||Studio||seven-song EP|
|1995||Polkas For A Gloomy World||Rounder||CD 9045||Studio||Grammy nominee|
|1996||Girl||Rounder||CD 9050||Studio||with Tiny Tim - his last recording|
|1996||Mood Swing Music||Rounder||CD 11574||Studio||rarities and singles|
|1996||Kiss Of Fire||Watermelon||WM 1058||Studio||with Lauren Agnelli, content similar to Allumettes|
|1997||Group Dance Epidemic||Rounder||R9055||Studio|
|1998||Polka Party with Brave Combo: Live and Wild!||Easydisc||EDIS 7052||Live||Grammy nominee|
|1999||Polkasonic||Cleveland International||CIR-1023-2||Studio||Grammy winner|
|2000||The Process||Rounder Records||ROUN9065||Studio|
|2001||All Wound Up! - A Family Music Party||Rounder Records||ROUN8092||Studio||with Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Grammy nominee|
|2001||Kick-Ass Polkas||Cleveland International||B00005O7SE||Live||Grammy nominee|
|2003||Box of Ghosts||Rounder Records||ROUN9064||Studio|
|2004||Let's Kiss: 25th Anniversary Album||Dentone Records||Studio||Grammy winner|
|2007||Polka's Revenge||Dentone Records||Studio||Grammy nominee|
|2008||The Exotic Rocking Life||Dentone Records||Studio|
|2009||Symphonic Polkas||Dentone Records||DT1006||Live||with the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra|
|2009||Christmas Present||Dentone Records||DT1007||Studio||Christmas music|
|2012||Sounds Of The Hollow||Dentone Records||DT1009||Studio|
|2014||Live at Blob's Park||Dentone Records||DT1012||Live|
|2015||The Liminal Zone||Dentone Records||DT1013||Studio|
|Date of release||Title||Label||Catalog||Type||Notes|
|1981||Music For Squares||Stunn||Stun507||Studio||New Zealand, content identical to US release|
|1981||I Gotta Know/Neo Limbo||Stunn||BFA 884||Studio||New Zealand, 7" single|
|1986||People Are Strange||Rogue Records||FMST 4007||Studio||U.K. compilation|
|1987||Polkatharsis||Demon Records||REU 1018||Studio||U.K., content identical to US release|
|1990||Very Early Recordings||Wave Records||Studio||Japan|
|1991||It's X-mas, Man!||P-Vine||PCD-2300||Studio||Japan|
|1992||No, No, No, Cha Cha Cha||P-Vine||PCD-2400||Studio||Japan|
|1993||Ondo Saves The World||Tele Disc||TLCD-93001||Studio||Japan, Kikusuimaru Meets Brave Combo|
|1994||Allumettes||P-Vine||PCD-1986||Studio||Japan, with Lauren Agnelli|
|1995||Polkas For A Gloomy World||P-Vine||PCD-3614||Studio||Japan, content identical to U.S. release|
- Carl Finch - guitar, keyboards, accordion (born November 29, 1951, Texarkana, Arkansas) (1979–present)
- Danny O'Brien - trumpet (born July 12, 1966, Lakenheath, England) (1993–present)
- Alan Emert - drums (born May 5, 1965) (1997–2008, 2010–present)
- Little Jack Melody - bass guitar (2009–present)
- Robert Hokamp - guitar (2015–present) 
- Jeffrey Barnes - saxophones, clarinet, flute, harmonica, penny whistles (born July 27, 1951, Fremont, Ohio) (1983–2015)
- Ginny Mac - accordion (2011–2013)
- Lyle Atkinson - bass guitar, tuba (born October 23, 1953, Minneapolis, Minnesota) (1979–1985)
- Tim Walsh - saxophone, flute, clarinet (born c.1952) (1979–1983)
- Dave Cameron - drums (born c.1958) (1979–1983)
- Cenobio "Bubba" Hernandez - bass guitar (born November 30, 1958, San Antonio, Texas) (1985–2007)
- Phil Hernandez - drums (born February 5, 1971, Buffalo, New York) (1992 - ?)
- Mitch Marine - drums (born c.1956) (1983–1992)
- Joe Cripps - percussion (born January 5, 1965, Little Rock, Arkansas) (1992 - ?)
- Greg Beck - drums (1996-1997)
- Paul Stivitts - drums (born 1971) NYC
- Ann Marie Harrop - bass guitar (2007–2009)
- Arjuna Contreras - drums (born August 11, 1974, Kenosha, Wisconsin) (2008–2010)
- Bill Tomlin - Drums (born September 28, 1948)
- Warren, Jason (July 5, 2013). "Brave Combo takes the accordion rocking across the world and the patio at the Old Rock House". KDHX-FM. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
- Philpot, Robert (June 18, 2014). "Brave Combo: Still rockin' the polka after all these years". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- Breeding, Lucinda (July 7, 2008). "Click & Clack add oompah; Brave Combo provides musical nuts and bolts for animated TV series". Denton Record-Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
- "Brave Combo Awards". Grammy.com. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
- Sims, Dave (November 21, 2008). "Signs of Life 2008: Best Music Scene - Denton, Texas". Paste.
- Beal, Jim Jr. (November 28, 2003). "Group gets a, uh, gig on 'Simpsons'". San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio, TX. p. 18H. Retrieved November 26, 2012.(subscription required)
- "Music for nuclear (polka) families: Grammy-winning Brave Combo has a new CD". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. January 23, 2001. p. L1. Retrieved November 26, 2012.(subscription required)
- Hepola, Sarah (March 11, 2004). "Brave New Combo D'oh! The Simpsons animate Dallas' favorite polka band". Dallas Observer. Dallas, TX. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
- "The Machine's Pump Volume 7 - #3 - March 2004". Brave Combo. Retrieved November 26, 2012.[dead link]
- Vreeken, Stacey (August 27, 2009). "Brave Combo runs the gamut of musical styles". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Santa Cruz, CA: MediaNews Group. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
- "MDA Labor Day Telethon list of celebrity appearances" (PDF). Muscular Dystrophy Association. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2006-08-13. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
- "Click and Clack's As the Wrench Turns - Show Credits. pbs.org. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
- Catlin, Roger (July 9, 2008). "Click And Clack Get Their Own Public Television Show". Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on October 21, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2008.
- Flanagan, Bill (November 23, 2009). "Bob Dylan Discusses Holiday Music, Christmas and Feeding The Hungry". Street News Service. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
- Pinson, Ann (July 16, 2012). "Brave Combo's nuclear polka to explode on the small screen in "Futurama"". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
- Lewis, B.J. (July 30, 2012). "'Futurama' to feature Brave Combo music". Denton Record-Chronicle. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
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