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The Cigar Store Indians expand on their rockabilly roots. 

Smokin' Sounds

Six years ago, when they first lit the fire at a gig in a Georgia barbecue joint, The Cigar Store Indians had purebred rockabilly intentions. But as those who catch the band Thursday at Jumpin' will find out, the guys have ventured far from pure twang into sounds that range from swing to Latin-flavored country to surfy lounge-lizard instrumentals.

"We're just an American band, kinda rootsy, not too serious," guitarist-singer-songwriter Ben Friedman explains.

Touring steadily for the past three years, the quartet is now on the road to promote the recently released "El Baile de la Cobra." Along the way the boys from Crabapple, Ga., have garnered praise for their high-energy show. The band has shared stages with acts such as the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Southern Culture On The Skids, Jerry Lee Lewis and Merle Haggard.

Earlier this year, the Indians were even invited to hold court for a month at Hollywood's too-cool-for-school venue, The Viper Room.

"El Baile de la Cobra" — the title pays homage to the guy who scored Italian spaghetti Westerns — reveals a band that happily defies musical pigeonholes while capturing a wide-range of influences. Friedman's voice can shake with a '50s redneck vengeance, swing like a big-band bopper, cut with a soulful Southern drawl, or flat-out rock. The guitars run the gamut of tone, chopping a little rhythmically over here while rumbling fat and greasy over there. The rhythm section moves the sound along with an able groove. The CD also features two "hidden" acoustic tracks that show yet another side of the group.

If the recording is an accurate sonic snapshot of the band, Cigar Store Indians' revved-up mix should please roots rockers and swing scenesters alike.

Cigar Store Indians play at Jumpin' at the Virginia Museum on Thursday, July 29. Tickets are $7 in advance, $8 the day of the show. Call 367-0844 for
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