Screaming Into The Abyss

Y'all are beautiful people. We love y'all to pieces.
By Ben Zvan
On March 26, 2009 at 12:10

Katherine WhalenThe Squirrel Nut Zippers came to the attention of mainstream media outlets with the release of Hell, during the short-lived swing revival in the mid 1990s. After a long hiatus from each other, they have regrouped with most of the original members including Jimbo Mathus, Katherine Whalen and and Stu Cole and thrilled their fans with a tour.

Jimbo Mathus - Crazy Face!The show at the Varsity Theater on March 24th, 2009 began with the local jazz group Twin Cities Hot Club playing a set to warm up the audience. They played a good mix of swing classics while the crowd danced.

As I leaned against the stage, I noticed a large group of people had found a spot next to me to throw their jackets and change their shoes. As it turned out, there was a dance competition between the Hot Club set and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Fun! After clearing an area in front of the stage, the band began playing for a good dozen couples. The music sped up, and the cohort of dancers steadily shrunk until two dancers remained. It was a great way to get the crowd hopping.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers are from the south. You wouldn't really know it from listening to their music except for the bluegrass influence but listening to them talk is a completely different story. Jimbo Mathus and his outrageous feathered hat sound distinctly like North Carolina if North Carolina were to get up on stage with an outrageous feathered hat.

Squirrel Nut Zippers - Stu ColeThe show was everything I could have expected from the Squirrel Nut Zippers: the performers were all very good and the interaction was very compelling—each of them was energetic, and outstanding in their field. The set list included songs from the old days, new work yet to be published, and a little bluegrass ditty that gave Jimbo a chance to point out that they are from the Appalachians after all.

The audience was fairly typical for the shows I've been going to lately with a mix of ages and a dominance of winter-paled, sun deprived skin. Some of them danced, some pogoed and some just groved to the beat. Many didn't know all the songs but all knew some of the songs. When it was time for Hell, they all cheered and sang along. When Squirrel Nut Zippers comes to your town buy a ticket; you won't be dissapointed.

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