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    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Cleanliness is friendliness: Kemo Sabe MP3s

    The party lulls into gradual silence; the guests start to converge around a ring of empties. "What's their sound like?" someone asks about the band setting up. The standup bassist, Nick, is dressed as a pirate with a treasure map Sharpied across his chest and striped burgundy socks running up his shins. "Well, they're kind of rock and kind of folk and kind of Americana..." another voice struggles to answer. "They're kind of everything." As guitarist Simon and mandolinist Cary set up, I try to pitch in. "It's kind of like... Imagine if Ralph Stanley, Calexico and The Reverend Horton Heat got into a bar fight and they were all pretty drunk..." The band isn't any more definitive, sometimes referring to its all-acoustic sound as "punkgrass" or "modern-day campire songs."

    But then they launch into the opening chords of "My Girlfriend's In The FBI" and conversation ends again. The regulars that recognize the song give an appreciative holler; the new faces start to nod to the rhythm. A few people are dancing now too, twirling their partners in the doorway. The party has officially become a party.

    As the trio strum out the last manic notes, the applause lingers longer than expected. It's as if to say, I didn't expect them to be that good. Nick claps back at the crowd, making seal noises. His map is already starting to blur a little from the sweat on his belly. Continuing to pound out song after song, Kemo Sabe keep up the same frantic energy level throughout their set. For the finale, the ukelele makes an appearance. When that's followed by the tip cup, bills fly out of pockets like a highroller's bachelor party. I turn back to the girl who was asking about their sound. "I think I'm going to start calling it 'scampfire,'" I tell her.

    Since Kemo Sabe don't have a record deal or an album proper, the best way to check them out firsthand is to visit San Francisco and catch them live. Or better yet, if you're a record exec looking for the new hotness, hurry up and sign the kings of scampfire now.

    * MP3: "Dirty Boy" - Kemo Sabe

    * MP3: "Snows On Friday" - Kemo Sabe
    * Band MySpace:
    That Band Kemo Sabe

    * Upcoming Tourdates:

    24 San Francisco, CA, Make-Out Room (w/ The Meat Purveyors)
    27 San Francisco, CA, Cafe du Nord (w/ The Burning Embers and The Whoreshoes)

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