You might remember last summer’s Spotlight Series feature on Brave Combo, the genre-bending polka band that has wowed audiences for over 35 years. This week they’re highlighted in a new Meet the Artist video filmed at Levitt Pavilion Arlington, where the band has performed eight times including on the venue’s opening day back in 2008. Check out the video above to find out more about Brave Combo’s origins, eclectic musical style, and why they keep returning to perform at Levitt venues. Want to know more about this lively band’s history? Read below for five fun facts!
- Brave Combo’s first gig was in 1979 at North Texas State University’s (now University of North Texas) outdoor amphitheater, but the event was nearly canceled due to wet weather. The band’s founder Carl Finch and former sax player Tim Walsh instead played to an audience of 30 polka fans inside a university dance studio.
- After spotting the headline “Corndog Controversy” in a carnival trade publication in the 1980s, Brave Combo adopted the name for their alter ego—an acoustic marching band. The band played as Corndog Controversy acoustically at the 1980 Texas State Fair with an accordion, tuba, clarinet and washboard.
- Brave Combo’s 2003 record, Box of Ghosts, is a collection of polka-styled classical numbers including “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky and Mozart’s “Rondo a la Turca.” Give the album a listen with the Spotify playlist on the right.
- According to Carl Finch in an interview with music critic Tim McMahan, the comedian Tracy Ullman asked Brave Combo to appear on her show for a skit set at a Polish wedding. Despite the show having an ideal audience for the band’s humor-infused live performances, Brave Combo declined the opportunity due to what they believed was the skit’s stereotypical portrayal of polka music.
- Husband and wife ice skating duo Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow competed in the 1994 Olympics with the Brave Combo song “Recuerdos” as their soundtrack. Watch their performance here.
This eclectic polka group has treated Levitt audiences across the country to high energy, unforgettable performances. The fun continues September 2, when Brave Combo returns for a free show at Levitt Pavilion Arlington for the ninth time!