With just one inexpensive demo tape, Royal Fingerbowl, a trio from New Orleans, attracted the attention of a New York record company. They've been hailed as one of the best bands to come out of New Orleans since the early-'90s emergence of Better Than Ezra. Composed of Alex McMurray on guitar and vocals, Kevin O'Day on drums, and Andy Wolf on bass and vocals, the band plays lilting, often waltz-tempo blues and jazz. McMurray's voice sounds like a cross between Tom Waits and Louis Armstrong, and he serves as the band's chief songwriter. A transplanted New Jerseyan, McMurray admits he takes much of his inspiration from the things he sees in New Orleans' nightlife, and so the lyrics on the band's debut for TVT Records, Happy Birthday Sabo!, (1997), have a strong sense of place. Like Waits' characters, the characters in McMurray's songs are often people on the periphery of mainstream society.