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Spam Allstars are funky, but more complicated

by Brian Clarey

Here are some things you might not know about SPAM, Sen. Robert Byrd’s favorite potted meat product (seriously, the West Virginia senator says he eats it on white bread with mayo three times a week):

SPAM is sold in 99 percent of the grocery stores in the United States.

Nikita Kruschev credited SPAM with enabling the Russian Army to survive the winters during World War II.

In Korea SPAM is a delicacy of such high prestige it’s sold in fancy 12-packs and exchanged as gifts during Chusok, their version of Thanksgiving.

Also:

There’s a band out of Miami named after SPAM, but unlike the stringy, sickeningly-sweet meat-cheese they are pretty damn good.

The Spam Allstars, fronted by DJ Le Spam, stir-fry a mix of Latin-tinged funk, groovy electronica, Sublime-esque melodies and clever sampling and serve it over bubbling bongos. The menu includes turntables, timbales, congas, guitar, horns and a flute ‘— all of which come into prominence on the tunes on the website (spamallstars.com) and MySpace page (4,052 friends and counting).

This is sophisticated stuff for funk, and if you like that stinky stuff once you hear jams like ‘“Ochimini’” you’re gonna want to buy a CD.

And when you do, you’ll gain a whole different kind of respect for the band. These guys are pioneers of the music industry’s new business model.

They started playing clubs in Miami, gained a loyal following and then, according to their website, ‘“establish[ed] residencies in select markets in the US,’” places like Gainesville, Little Havana and, eventually New York City, where they would score a regular gig and wait for word of mouth to spread.

Their body of recorded work, the four CDs Spam Allstars Contra Los Roboticos Mutantes (2004), Fuacata Live! (2002), Pigs in Space (2000), Pork Scratchings (1999) and two vinyl releases, vinyl #1 and vinyl #2, are all produced, recorded and manufactured by the band. You can buy the songs digitally or order CDs from the website and a small handful of retailers in Florida, California, New York, Illinois and Washington, DC.

And, of course, you can see them at the Eastern Music Festival.

To comment on this story, e-mail Brian Clarey at editor@yesweekly.com.

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