A special delivery

MIKE BELL

, Last Updated: 12:49 AM ET

Goulash, hotchpotch, jambalaya, the McRib sandwich -- all are names to describe the results of when different cultures combine a variety of unlikely ingredients to create something new and unique.

In essence, that's also what Tom Landa and his Vancouver band The Paperboys do.

Consider the eight-year-old act a world music hot pot where Celtic, bluegrass, Eastern, country, Latin and American folk -- to name a few -- mix with one another for a sound that's as singular as it is eclectic.

But if there's one key element that stands out when you sample the band's latest dish, Postcards, it would have to be the common, homegrown garden-variety ingredient we like to call pop music.

"I'm a huge fan of pop music -- I've always been since I was a kid," says the Mexican-born Landa, who performs with his band tonight at the Strathcona Community Centre.

"And I tend to think of (what we do) as pop music that could and should get played on the radio. But obviously ... I don't have the majority vote on that."

Landa's dismay at the lack of radioplay for The Paperboys and other ethnically diverse musical ensembles is understandable considering a successful act such as Great Big Sea (my example, not his), who take a traditional sound and do very little with it other than dilute it for the masses.

But at the same time as that might be cause for concern, Landa also takes it as a flicker of hope.

"There are some bands that have done somewhat well with bringing traditional ethnic music to a pop format and they have a bit of success, but not in the scale I think is deserved," he says.

"That would be a glory day when we start hearing more (Senegalese artist) Youssou N'Dour on the radio and less Britney Spears."

Or, more of The Paperboys, for that matter.

And if anything could do it for them it would be Postcards, the band's third album (and the follow-up to their Juno-winning CD Molinos).

Though stylistically more diverse than anything Spirit of the West ever attempted -- three songs are sung in Spanish, there's a cover of a Bodeans tune, etc. -- Postcards is in parts reminiscent of the Save This House era of The Paperboys' fellow West Coasters.

Not surprising considering that not only is Spirit of the West co-founder Geoffrey Kelly's singing and playing featured prominently on the album, but Landa cites the band as being one of the main reasons that there's a Paperboys to begin with.

"Even when playing with (Geoffrey), and him being in the same room, I will still say they were a very big influence on me," Landa admits.

"I'd almost dare to say that had it not been my hearing their records, I would never have been into Celtic music to begin with -- so the band may not even exist."


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