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Brave Combo (courtesy photo)

Brave Combo has the best of both worlds. In the United States, the Denton creators of "nuclear polka" get to walk the streets in unfettered anonymity, but when they're in the mood to experience stardom, they can tour Japan, where they have long been treated like bona fide pop stars.

They don't have to carry all the onerous baggage of celebrity, yet they are able to benefit from one of stardom's coolest rewards: seeing themselves in animated form on The Simpsons (for a soon-to-air episode).

Brave Combo

November 29
1719 Blanco
When you plug away for 24 years, tirelessly breaking down America's resistance to rhumbas, cha-chas, and charangas, you deserve some Matt Groening cartoon love. Since its formation in 1979, the quintet has bravely taken the refuse of popular culture and treated it with respect. Who else would consider recording a full album with Tiny Tim or recasting the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" as a dance-crazy cha-cha?

Ethno-musicologists with a silly streak, this band has been at the forefront of America's appreciation for world rhythms. To Carl Finch, the band's leader and musical mastermind, creating odd dance-floor juxtapositions is more than an elaborate joke. As he once declared in an interview with New Musical Express, the group sees a cosmic purpose behind its celebration of all-things polka: "I do think the acceptance of polka and other dance rhythms can help bring about world peace. If the people of the world can start dancing together, they can learn to respect each other's cultures, too." •

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