With a couple of Christmas-themed albums under their belts, the veterans of Brave Combo are no strangers to Christmas music. This may explain their facility with the catalog and a flair for finding new approaches. Who knew Jingle Bells could make an intriguing minor key polka, for instance?
Out of Denton, Tex., Brave Combo -- who performed as a 5-piece at KDHX -- includes founder Carl Finch on guitars, keyboards, accordion and vocals, and other core-member, eclectic multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Barnes. They are estimable musicians, aware of their fearsome power to say in two beats what would take most four. They have disingenuously attributed the breadth of their influences to short attention spans and have been cited by fans as a guilty musical pleasure, perhaps owing to some of their light and goofy lyrical content.
Undergoing many personnel changes since being founded in 1979, the band is a prime example of what decades of focus on a musical tradition can yield: adept musicianship, immersion in Latin and world musical styles, pronounced passion for dance styles (including cha-cha-chas, rumbas, cumbias and merengues, among others) and particularly rotating and unusual instrumentation, all allowing for for shockingly different atmospheres and arrangements from one song to the next. This unique band will confound expectations of those thinking they are going to hear a novelty act.