You could sit around for days thinking of random musical combinations before coming up with a surf-klezmer hybrid. But to Boom Pam, Israelis who grew up in the cultural melting pot of Tel Aviv, it proved natural to mix heavily reverbed, Dick Dale-style guitar lines with the brassy backbeat of a Balkan wedding band.
The group's name honors the hit song "Boom Pam" by Aristidis Saisanas (later Hebraicized to Aris San), a Greek guitar hero from the '60s who moved to Israel and introduced electric guitar to ethnic music. The tradition of modernizing folk idioms continues with Boom Pam, which draws from Balkan, Greek, Jewish, Arabic, Turkish and general Mediterranean flavors to create its exciting, electric sound. (The group has recorded its own version of "Boom Pam," sung in Greek by Berry Sakharof, of towering Israeli post-punks Minimal Compact.)
Starting in 2003 as a trio, with guitarists Uri Brauner (also of Balkan Beat Box) and Uzi Feinerman and tuba player Yuval Zolotov, the group soon added drummer Dudu Kochav to facilitate danceability in local clubs. Graduating to larger stages, Boom Pam toured Europe and provided soundtracks for a dance company. Some of its Tel Aviv shows were collaborations with German world-music champion Stefan Hantel (a.k.a. DJ Shantel), who produced its debut album for the European label Essay Recordings.
This 2006 recording is a mostly upbeat affair with wide appeal and innumerable reference points. Any fan of surf and swing -- from The Red Elvises to The Squirrel Nut Zippers -- will burst into a wide grin. And even though Boom Pam plays originals, the hordes of Pittsburghers with Jewish, Slavic or Mediterranean roots will recognize the ancestral melodies and off-kilter time signatures (a complex, jumpy track like "Lajdi" might as well be math-rock) buried deep within their genetic memory banks.
And then there's the worldwide phenomenon of Borat: The film's soundtrack recently popped the charts' cherry with Balkan brass bands such as Fanfare Ciocarlia and Kocani Orkestar (both also on Essay). So if kibbutznik Sacha Baron Cohen makes a sequel, Boom Pam seems likely to be tapped -- especially considering the Borat-esque lyrics on "Let Me Touch": "You say you have boyfriend / Baby, I don't care / Your boyfriend and I can share."
After a sweaty night making the sexy time with Boom Pam, this is one bunch of Jews unlikely to be thrown down the well.
Boom Pam. 8 p.m. Tue., Jan. 23. William Pitt Union Ballroom, University of Pittsburgh, Oakland. $10 ($12 at the door). All ages. 412-251-6058 or www.myspace.com/pghpandemic