Combo: (n) a small jazz, rock, or pop band.
Being clever is similar to setting a bear trap down in a room full of balloons. It is so easy to spring the trap and bust all your balloons of hope.
In my early years I had a music group and was desperately trying to promote us–at least to the point that I could make enough “jack” to pay for “Jill.”
Money was rare.
Now, opportunities and gigs seemed to pop up everywhere–but when the subject of remuneration was suggested, there were offers of free coffee, “help yourself
to the day-old pastry,” or “we have a garage where you can sleep overnight.”
I knew I needed to do something drastic to set our group apart from the rest of the marauding musicians trying to fend for the single crust of bread, so I put together a damn good press release.
Understand–this was an era when bands did not advertise themselves via printed material, but rather, through audition tapes or live performances.
I got a great picture of us, looking our cutest (and surliest) and attached our release. One of the things I discovered in writing the piece was that if you’re constructing a great article, it should not repeat words.
I kept landing on the word “group.” “Group?” “GROUP!”
So thinking myself extremely clever, I went to the Thesaurus and looked for different words to communicate the idea “group.”
One of those was “combo.”
I was ecstatic. The word sounded good to me, so I stuck it in the press release a couple of times and sent it off.
I noticed when I started calling places back to see if they wanted to schedule us based on our fine piece of promotional material, the proprietors would grumble, “We’re not interested in a jazz thing.”
I tried to explain that we weren’t jazz, but by that time they had hung up the phone and I was left standing, listening to the dial tone of the day.
Finally, one of the gentlemen I called suggested a nightclub down the street that specialized in jazz.
I squeezed in my question. “We’re not a jazz group. Where did you get the idea we played jazz?”
“Really?” he said. “Your article said you were a combo, and I never heard of any band calling themselves a combo unless they were jazz.”
I wanted to tell him about my journey through the “prehistoric thesaurus,” but instead, I went back to my creation and removed the word “combo.”
Needing to replace it, I inserted “adventurers.”