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Interview:
Squirrel Nut Zippers at the Magic Bag, 3 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Squirrel Nut Zippers has plenty on its plate this year.



The group is on the road now celebrating the 25th anniversary of its debut album, "The Inevitable," by playing it in its entirety. It will also release a special edition of the album on Record Store Day, April 18. Meanwhile, co-founder James "Jimbo" Mathus' current incarnation of the band has recorded a new album, the follow-up to 2018's "Beasts of Burgundy," with plans to release it later this year.



The Zippers' hot blend of jazz, blues, swing and more has certainly stood the test of time as more than an idiosyncratic novelty. And Mathus is hoping to take things even further during its next 25 (or so) years...



Mathus, 52, says by phone that he "feels every minute of" the 25 years since The Inevitable came out. But the Mississippi native is also gratified the band has maintained a following since then. "It's all pretty exciting. I thought that this thing was built to last and there's nothing like it out there way back then, but I wanted to prove that to myself as well as everyone else. It's unique -- unique in music, in culture, in society. I think that's a big reason it's still going like it is today."



"Inevitable," meanwhile, marked a kind of arrival for the Zippers in terms of the sound that would become identified with the band. "Up to that time we had been doing all kinds of different genres," Mathus recalls, "everything from Appalachian music to gospel and blues. We really kind of decided what kind of band we were gonna be right before that record, and we picked the material that we thought would be most interesting. As far as thinking that two years later we'd have a million-selling record (with 1996's 'Hot' album and its hit 'Hell'), never."



Mathus is also anticipating the release of "Lost Songs of Doc Souchon," its title a tribute to the late New Orleans jazz guitarist and music historian. "He was, like, the original kind of folklorist dude. He really kept alive a lot of the traditional vaudeville and blues and jazz before even the folk revival brought it back." The Zippers recorded the album last year in New Orleans, and Mathus says that, "It's very cool, quirky, very tight and even more far-reaching than the jazz and swing we've ever done. It's our best record yet -- I really feel that."



Squirrel Nut Zippers perform Thursday, March 12, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors at 8 p.m. $37. 248-544-1991 or themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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