TAMPA — The Squirrel Nut Zippers will take the stage Friday, Oct. 25, 7:30 and 10 p.m., at the Attic at Rock Brothers, 1510 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa.
Tickets cost $35 in advance. For tickets, visit eventbrite.com. For venue information, call 813-241-0100.
According to the band’s biography provided by Concerted Efforts, the Squirrel Nut Zippers began their musical journey in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the mid 1990s as a musician’s escape from the cookie-cutter world of modern rock radio at the time.
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Jimbo Mathus and drummer/percussionist Chris Phillips founded the swing revival band as a casual musical foray among friends and family in the area. It wasn’t long before the band’s quirky mix of jazz chords, folk music, and punk rock leanings spread out of the region and attracted a national audience.
Between 1995 and 2000, the Squirrel Nut Zippers sold over 3 million albums. “Hot,” their 1996 watershed album, was recorded in the heat of New Orleans, fueled by a smoldering mix of booze and a youthful hunger to unlock the secrets of old world jazz. This passion mixed with klezmer, blues, Americana and random bits of contemporary music became the bands signature style. At the time, there were few other bands inhabiting this space. The album would eventually break free of any “jazz” stereotypes and land on commercial radio, taking the band to remarkable heights for what was essentially an anti-establishment sound.
Years later, the band has emerged from a lengthy recording hiatus, reinvigorated, reinvested, and rejuvenated.
“It’s not a reunion, it’s a revival,” has served as a battle cry for Mathus since reforming the group in 2016. With an all-star cast of New Orleans musicians, the band breathed new life into the old material, and inspired Mathus to return to the studio to reignite the band’s unique, enigmatic sound.
The result is the first Squirrel Nut Zippers studio album in 18 years. “Beasts of Burgundy,” released in 2018, is a return to form for the band. The album embraces the city that first inspired the group. Enlisting Mike Napolitano — who recorded all the band’s previous albums — was a magical first step in the process.
A long list of songs in hand, Mathus and violin player Dr. Sick began shaping and crafting the songs that would eventually become “Beasts of Burgundy,” a handsome moniker referring to Burgundy Street in New Orleans.
“The Zippers have always been full of outlandish characters which provide great self-referential material for songs,” Mathus explained. “The new revival of the band is no exception and, since we rehearsed the new show on Burgundy Street in New Orleans, I thought of this title and story about the ‘Beasts’ who accidentally miss Mardi Gras.”
The group has spent the better part of the last two years shaping its chemistry and honing its sound on the road. A kind of uncontrolled experiment in music on the road allowed the band to feed off audiences’ energy and surrender to the dancing muse, rather than trying to subscribe to a preconceived notion.