Music » Livewire

Brave Combo

Saturday, July 1, at the Beachland Ballroom.

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What makes a man devote himself to polka music? Let us examine the case of Carl Finch in 1970s Denton, Texas. Discouraged by the monotony pervading most rock and pop at the time, he was driven to find something -- anything -- that wasn't Boston or "Afternoon Delight."

Finch discovered polka music, which held more than the grandma-and-grandpa oom-pah-pah presented by Lawrence Welk and his orchestra. Polka bubbles with an earthy joie de vive, laced with shades of various ethnicities -- northern, central and eastern Europe and northernmost Mexico, among others. Tossing mainstream concepts of cool to the wind, Finch found intrepid fellow travelers -- a very Brave Combo -- and got down with traditional polkas and the polka-styled versions of rock hits like "People Are Strange" and "Purple Haze."

Subsequent decades substantiate Brave Combo's status as a thriving concern -- unlike jokey acts (Dead Milkmen and Mojo Nixon come to mind) and like They Might Be Giants, the group's tunes are first and foremost good and durable songs, with the eclecticism and loopy humor a bonus. In the hands of Brave Combo, Foreigner's blustery "Double Vision" becomes an elegant, sultry mambo, uniting nations and generations on the world's dance floor, cha-cha-cha!

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