SPAM ALLSTARS / “Spam Allstars Mixtape”

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The formula is simple, it’s the same formula that has created the majority of American pop music: use African heritage styles as a foundation and then add other ingredients on top, shake ‘em up and let it flow.

I'm not a songwriter. I make grooves. That’s what I like to do. I get excited by a great bass and drum groove. And I love horns. So for years we had no vocals at all. After Tomas Diaz started playing with the band regularly he started grabbing the microphone and improvising from time to time. I liked the combination and so did the audience. Now it’s about 80 instrumental with a few vocal numbers thrown in there.
—DJ Le Spam
Some consider Spam an inferior meat product, not a true meat, but some of us like Spam, especially fried with eggs on top and sautéed onions and jalepenos and maybe a slice of cheddar. You know what I’m saying?

Some of us don’t eat meat but can understand the taste for Spam.

Some won’t touch the stuff.
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Well, if you don’t like spam, we don’t give a damn, you ain’t got to eat what you don’t like, fine. That leaves more for us. If you don’t feel like dancing, then sit your dead ass down, ‘cause right now it’s party time!
 We want our listeners to participate, to get up and dance, have a good time, get lost in the music or whatever (just leave the harmonicas at home folks!).  I would not say there in an overt message as most of our stuff is instrumental, but it is our intention to bring people together to enjoy the music and dance together.
—DJ Le Spam
So hear some of that mashed-up stuff. Afro-Cuban rhythms and dance styles, a little turntablisms, some heavy funk drums, garnished with horn and flute riffs. Heat, stir and serve.

For those who are into the fine print, the ingredients on the side of the can list: Spam Allstars are Andrew Yeomanson/DJ Le Spam (turntables, samplers, guitar, bass), Tomas Diaz (timbales, vox), AJ Hill (saxes, vox), Mercedes Abal (flute, vox), Chad Bernstein (trombone, vox), Jose Elias (guitars/tres), Ted Zimmerman (trumpet), Lazaro Alfonso (congas), Adam Zimmon (guitars), & Steve Welsh (saxes). They call their music “electronic descarga.”
Descarga music is a form that developed in the early 60s among the Latin musicians in Cuba and New York, most notably Cachao and Charlie Palmieri's bands. It’s basically a group improvising around a groove. I guess to me our music is like a modern version of that style, employing samplers and drum machines and effects.
—DJ Le Spam

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They were founded by Andrew Yeomanson, aka DJ Le Spam, who has a nomadic pedigree. He was born in Montreal to an English father and Venezuelan mother. As a youngster, his family lived in London, Tampa, Bogota, Toronto and Miami, where he has settled in for well over a decade.

Yeomanson started his professional musical career playing with the Haitian roots ensemble, the Lavalas Band, with whom he recorded an album. In 1993 he formed the Spam Allstars and immediately began merging different musical forms and styles into the distinctive Spam Allstars sound.

Around 1994 in Miami, I used to go to a little studio to experiment and record my ideas. One of the first tunes we did was a little Cuban riff overlaid with dialogue from an early 80s spam commercial. I thought it was funny so I started playing it for my friends. The name is a nod to our absurdist roots.
—DJ Le Spam

In 1995 he took off for three years touring with Nil Lara and returned to Miami in 1998 to continue leading the Spam Allstars.

He became involved with a pirate radio station and secured a half hour program of Spam Allstars improvisations that mixed samples with live instrumentation in the studio. This led to their first album, Pork Scratchings (1999).
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The band began a serious schedule of touring while holding down regular gigs in Miami, all of which led to the 2001 start up of a party series known as “Fuacata” at Hoy como Ayer on Calle Ocho, located in the heat of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.
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The Spam Alstars harken back to an earlier period when bands had a regional home base and often toured by car and bus doing one-nighters. They continue to travel by van and use the internet to handle their business from bookings to distribution their music. It’s hard, dirty, work and who better than a dance band appropriately called the Spam Allstars, a musical aggregation who are proud of their ability to mash musical scraps and scrapings into a substantial whole.
—Kalamu ya Salaam

Spam Allstars Mixtape Playlist
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REAX:  Is it hard being Independent? Is that a trend you plan on following?
DJLS: It’s the path we've chosen. I think it’s what suits me best. I don’t think I could stand being mired in the machinations of a big label, or even a small one. If we want something done we do it. If you want something from us, you call us and deal with us. We stand to benefit the most from our labors like this. I'm not sure a label could do any better for us than we can do for ourselves at this point as most of them are in disarray living off their back catalogs and throwing fistfuls of shit at the wall to see what sticks.
—DJ Le Spam

OK, so here’s the drill: if you want to cop some of their music, I recommend you start with Introducing Spam Allstars, a compilation album that’s easily available. Most of the cuts in the mixtape are from that release but we’ve also included some tracks from live shows and even a remix of one of their most popular numbers. For more into (and access to individual tracks) go to the official Spam Allstars website and also to this promotional website.
01 Untitled Track - Live at Browns Island  (Richmond, VA - June 27, 2008)

02 “Campanario 64” - Introducing Spam Allstars

03 “El Aguafiesta” - Introducing Spam Allstars

04 “Afrika” - Introducing Spam Allstars

05 “Gallo Pinto” - Introducing Spam Allstars

06 Untitled Track - Lincoln Center Out Of Doors Festival, Damrosch Park (New York City - August 22, 2008)

07 “The Robots' Attack” - Introducing Spam Allstars

08 “Ochimini” - Introducing Spam Allstars

09 “Descarga Gusano” - Introducing Spam Allstars

10 Untitled Track - Spam Allstars Live at Neighborhood Theater (Charlotte, NC - July 28, 2006)

11 “La Mareada” - Introducing Spam Allstars

12 “Charanga E-350” - Introducing Spam Allstars

13 “Heat Mix” - Spam Fugitive Tracks

14 “Robots Attack Remix” - Spam Fugitive Tracks

This entry was posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 12:36 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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