Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Venue: Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) (https://mim.org/ )
Date: Thursday October 28th, 2021
Tour: The Inevitable 26th Anniversary Tour 2021
Squirrel Nut Zippers is an American swing and jazz band formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, by James “Jimbo” Mathus. Their music is a fusion of Delta blues, gypsy jazz, 1930s–era swing and music of New Orleans. Over the years Jimbo has had a lot of different band members perform with Squirrel Nut Zippers. For this 26th Anniversary tour, Jimbo is joined by Dr. Sick (fiddle, banjo, various instruments, vocals), Cella Blue (vocals), Dave Boswell (trumpet), Eddie King (trombone), Hank West (saxophone, vocals), Leslie P. Martin (piano), John Kveen (bass) and Neilson Bernard III (drums).
It’s hard to believe that it has been 26 years since Squirrel Nut Zippers emerged on the music scene. The debut album, The Inevitable was a breath of fresh air in an era of pop and metal music. I saw them in 2018 when they did the Beasts of Burgundy album tour. For this tour they were doing The Inevitable and a lot of songs from their newest album Lost Songs of Doc Souchon.
Squirrel Nut Zippers are both a musical band and a performance act. Between the multiple costumes of Cella Blue, Dr. Sick bouncing around the stage playing multiple instruments and the antics of Jimbo, you as the audience get a real fun performance. Cella Blue sang on about half of the songs and in-between she was changing costumes. Jimbo and Dr. Sick changed off between guitars and banjo for a number of songs. At one point in the show, Jimbo put on a skeleton mask and danced around on the stage. For another song, Dr. Sick put on a Devil’s mask and played the fiddle. At the end of the main set, Jimbo asked for the lights to dim, a movie screen drops down behind the band and a video started to play. It was the “Ghost of Stephen Foster”. It’s an old-time cartoon style movie clip. As the movie plays, the band started to play and sing in-sync with the movie. You can check out the movie and song on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJzWGkgFcTU or look up “Ghost of Stephen Foster” on YouTube. They finished the night with a 4-song set, including “Mr. Wonderful” and “Plenty More” being sung by saxophone player, Hank West.
If you want to see a really good bunch of musicians having fun on stage and music that is just fun to listen to, then I would highly recommend seeing Squirrel Nut Zippers. They are just one of those bands that I enjoy more each time I see them.
You can find future tour dates and more information about Squirrel Nut Zippers on their website and Facebook page.
Photos By Fred Kuhlman, All Rights Reserved
Squirrel Nut Zippers Setlist: (Album)
Happy Days Are Here Again (Lost Songs of Doc Souchon)
Lover’s Lane (The Inevitable)
Danny Diamond (The Inevitable)
Good Enough for Granddad (The Inevitable)
Wash Jones (The Inevitable)
Wished for You (The Inevitable)
You’re Drivin’ Me Crazy (The Inevitable)
La Grippe (The Inevitable)
Suits Are Picking Up the Bill (Perennial Favorites)
Memphis Exorcism (Hot)
It Ain’t You (Hot)
She’s Ballin’ (Lost Songs of Doc Souchon)
Animule Ball (Lost Songs of Doc Souchon)
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Lost Songs of Doc Souchon)
Ghost of Stephen Foster (Perennial Favorites)
Mr. Wonderful (Lost Songs of Doc Souchon)
Axman Jazz (Don’t Scare Me Papa) (Beasts of Burgundy)
Prince Nez (Hot)
Plenty More (The Inevitable)