What Are Squirrel Nut Zippers?
Squirrel Nut Zippers have a long and varied musical history. Their repertoire includes jazz, blues, and retro movement music, but the group is best known for its jazz-blues-rock ensemble, Parody of James and the Dorsey. They made their big league debut during the swing revival of the 1990s. Influenced by New Orleans jazz, Harlem jazz, and jumping music of pre-war America, the band has toured extensively and released new material, including the recently-released Beasts of Burgundy album.
Parody of James and the Dorsey
The Squirrel Nut Zippers are a rock band from New York that performs music that parodies the life and times of rock stars like Elvis Presley and Neil Young. The band’s music has been featured in over 25 films and TV shows. They have performed at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and President Clinton’s second inauguration ball. The band broke up in early 2000 and hasn’t performed in over a decade.
The Squirrel Nut Zippers got their start in 1993, and they quickly became part of the jump jive ‘n’ wail swing movement of the early ’90s. In 1996, they scored a hit with “Hell,” from their album Hot. Unfortunately, the group broke up after a brief period of disbandment, but Mathus and his new band have continued to make music, and this year, they’re planning a major collaboration with a fellow jazz group.
The members of the jazz-blues-rock ensemble Squirrel Nut Zippers are a diverse group, drawing from a variety of musical styles. Drawing inspiration from Dixieland, swing, and jump-blues, the Squirrel Nut Zippers explore styles that have evolved into a distinct, modern sound. The band’s eclectic musical approach has earned them an enthusiastic following.
Squirrel Nut Zippers formed in 1993 in the small town of Efland, North Carolina, after meeting local musicians. They soon became a part of the jump jive ‘n’ wail swing movement and achieved mainstream success with their hit single, “Hell.” Since then, they’ve undergone a lineup change and are currently working on a new album. Their latest album is expected later this year. The band’s original lineup includes pianist Chris Phillips, saxophonists Jimbo Mathus and Je Widenhouse, horns player Stuart Cole and drummer David Levy.
The band’s eclectic sound has earned them fans worldwide, and they’ve sold more than three million albums. Their watershed album, Hot (1996), was recorded in New Orleans and blended klezmer, blues, and contemporary music. The band’s eclectic style has even been featured on commercial radio, making them a staple in jazz clubs. But their unique sound hasn’t only made them popular among fans, it’s also helped them become part of an increasingly cosmopolitan audience.
Retro movement band
The Squirrel Nut Zippers hail from Chapel Hill, N.C., and hail from the era when jazz music was a form of rebellion against the status quo. They channel the spirit of jazz and blues and incorporate cheeky entertainment value into their music. While they are not highly refined musicians, they are keen acolytes of the swing music of the past. They are the quintessential retro movement band.
The first half of Squirrel Nut Zippers’ CD sounds like a sampler. If you prefer Cab Calloway, you’ll probably hate track two. If you’re into klezmer, you won’t like track eleven. While you’ll get a taste of the band’s music, naysayers may question whether they’re one band or a collective. The CD’s eclectic sound lands it in the pop-rock bucket, but the band does cover plenty of rock.
Squirrel Nut Zippers’ music is rooted in swing but avoids the trappings of the swing movement. Instead, the band refers to their music as hot jazz. Guitarist Jim Mathus and multi-instrumentalist Tom Maxwell, along with banjo-player Katharine Whalen and percussionist Chris Phillips, play jazz, bluegrass, and swing-era popular music.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.