From Soup to Nuts

P.D. Kelley

Last Friday March 10th the Squirrel Nut Zippers were in town and the Rogue Theatre crowd was treated to one of the zaniest shows ever: wild, wonderful and oh so entertaining. You gotta love the name and, although I’d heard of the band before, I would have gone just to find out what squirrels, nuts and zippers could possibly have to offer! There is actually a drink called a nut zipper (tequila, Grand Marnier and cream) and a candy as well. Rumor has it that the band used to toss these sweets into the audience back in the ‘90’s. Sadly, not today but the great music was enough. Think modern swing, delta blues, gypsy, jazz plus a bit of funk and you might have this group defined in a nut shell (bad pun intended). James “Jimbo” Mathus, one of the group’s founders, played a mean guitar and was an excellent vocalist. Another SNZ original was Chris Phillips holding his own on drums. Dr. Sick was the crazed fiddle and banjo player. He spun his head like a top and whipped around the stage in a manic frenzy and still managed to hit every note strong and true. Tamara Nicolai made a fine showing on the upright bass and Kris Tokarski was smooth on the keyboards. The horn section was bold and rich with Dave Boswell on the trumpet, Charlie Halloran on trombone and Henry Westmoreland on the saxophone. For a dash of color and style look no further than Cella Blue on vocals. She had a classic “big band” voice and changed costumes several times during the show: original, a bit eccentric but always engaging. These folks have had some commercial success and have been around for several decades. They have a well-choreographed but still spontaneous quirkiness that their fans love. Watch for their new album, Beasts of Burgundy, coming out this month.

Catch you on the flip side…