120 // SEE­ING STARS

Ocean Drive - - Contents - BY BRETT SOKOL

Af­ter al­most two decades of jam­ming in the Magic City, Spam All­stars con­tinue to rock—even for a new generation of lis­ten­ers.

AF­TER AL­MOST TWO DECADES OF JAM­MING IN THE MAGIC CITY, THE SPAM ALL­STARS CON­TINUE TO ROCK ON AND OFF THE STAGE—EVEN FOR A NEW GENERATION OF LIS­TEN­ERS.

In a city where things seems to be in a state of con­stant flux— from the culture to the amount of coast­line still above wa­ter— the Spam All­stars are an in­sti­tu­tion. Eigh­teen years and more than 3,000 gigs since the band’s found­ing, their sig­na­ture fu­sion of old-school salsa, loose-limbed funk, and bump­ing bass re­mains as pop­u­lar as ever. The main dif­fer­ence, ex­plains Spam All­stars band­leader An­drew Yeomanson, is that those young club­go­ers who flocked to his group’s Lit­tle Ha­vana con­certs nearly two decades ago now have chil­dren of their own.

“It’s mind-blow­ing to see long­time fans who have kids in high school now,” says Yeomanson. “But I don’t think about any of that—how it’s go­ing to be re­ceived, where ex­actly it’s go­ing to go—when I’m work­ing on an ar­range­ment. ”

The lat­est batch of ar­range­ments is col­lected on Transoceanic, the Spam All­stars’ sixth al­bum. The band’s hyp­notic grooves are still firmly in ef­fect, but so is a con­crete sense of song struc­ture. This is de­spite an every­thing-but-the-kitchen-sink ap­proach: Fuzzed-out gui­tar riffs si­dle up to conga rhythms and voice sam­ples from the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice. “‘Transoceanic’ is ac­tu­ally the model of the old Zenith ra­dio my grand­fa­ther had. It was a multi­band model with short­wave,” Yeomanson ex­plains.

But don’t ex­pect to hear car­bon copies of any of the songs be­ing per­formed on­stage. “Play­ing live is all about cre­at­ing in the mo­ment,” he says. “I’ll dis­sect and chop, mix­ing and chang­ing lit­tle things.” And own­ing his own stu­dio—city of Progress, kit­ted out with vin­tage equip­ment—al­lows for an endless amount of sonic tin­ker­ing. It’s also led to a side­line in archival au­dio restora­tion, trans­fer­ring reel-toreel tapes into the digital realm and delv­ing into un­re­leased ma­te­rial from leg­endary pro­duc­ers. Re­cent vis­i­tors have in­cluded Wil­lie Clarke, the co­founder of Mi­ami’s Deep City la­bel, which is­sued soul records in the ’60s, and Arthur Baker, who’s dig­ging into his own ’80s ses­sions with ev­ery­one from Afrika Bam­baataa to Al Green.

Still, the big­gest sur­prise for Yeomanson af­ter all these years? “I can’t be­lieve I can still hear,” he laughs. The Spam All­stars per­form in Mi­ami at Hoy Como Ayer on Fe­bru­ary 9, at Ball & Chain on Fe­bru­ary 24, at the WDNA Jazz Fes­ti­val on Fe­bru­ary 25, and with the New World Sym­phony on March 3. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit spa­mall­stars.com.

The Spam All­stars (CEN­TER) dur­ing the band’s 20thanniver­sary per­for­mance at the North Beach Band­shell.

The band’s fu­sion of old-school salsa, funk, and bump­ing bass has earned them a loyal fan fol­low­ing in Mi­ami and be­yond. be­low: On­stage at the South Dade Cul­tural Arts Cen­ter.

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