South Florida would not be the same without DJ Le Spam and his relentless All-Star troupe. Sure, we can rely on indie hipster dalliance at Revolver, Pop Life, or Crush or revel in the glossy, overpriced clubs of South Beach. But the Spam Allstars are distinctive enough to transcend and perhaps outlast their contemporaries.
The product of the kaleidoscopic mind of one Andrew Yeomanson, Spam has grown from a living-room project into a multiheaded entity, cross-pollinating musical cultures like a sonic geneticist. Equally as colorful as the 34-year-old's persona and spirit, Le Spam's music is a potent, vinyl-backed collage that concentrates on multiple styles of Latin, funk, electronic, and soul rhythms. Spinning records and concocting sounds from his vast collection, including Jamaican, electro hip-hop, blues, gospel, Cuban, African, and jazz 45s, Spam obviously lives and breathes music, as a peek at his eclectic website (www.spamallstars.com) shows.
Now holding court over not one but three residencies, including Jazid and I/O in Miami, as well as SOB's in New York, the Spam Allstars have become the true Miami sound machine. With Tomas Diaz on timbales, AJ Hill and Steve Welsh on sax, John Speck on trombone, Mercedes Abal on flute, and Adam Zimmon on guitar, Le Spam has a diverse arsenal of musicians that have helped turn his 305 dreams into a tangible, live-music force.
After three live albums, including 2002's Latin Grammy-nominated Fuacata Live!, the Spam Allstars have finally released their first studio effort, Spam Allstars Contra Los Roboticos Mutantes, on their own Spamusica Records. Le Spam takes a more pronounced role with his turntables amid all the intertwining instrumentation, adding scratches and funky breaks on tracks like "El Aguafiesta" and "The Robots Attack" that suitably mesh with the cavalcade of sound.
Yeomanson's had quite an upward climb since forming the Allstars in 1994, just a few years after relocating to Miami from his native Canada. Veering from the thrash metal of his teens to an infatuation with Jamaican dub reggae, Yeomanson quickly found his niche, moving from guitarist to bandleader. Loop-based textures gave way to a more improvised, live feel, its foundation planted on 1998's debut, Pork Scratchings. Though dance music was reaching its commercial apex at that point, Le Spam and company veered in an entirely different direction, giving South Florida a premium blend of nostalgic, obscure, and retro sounds that were rarely heard by anyone -- but that would soon please almost everyone.
Now with Grammy nods, residencies, and recordings and tours with members of Phish under their belt, DJ Le Spam and the Spam Allstars have helped shape South Florida music culture with their own authentic flavor. Who better to help christen the newly opened Revolution nightclub than one of its brightest institutions? Right -- we thought so. -- Kiran Aditham