The stage was awash in red and black and it was a whirl of motion and sound as The Squirrel Nut Zippers thoroughly entertained the crowd at City Winery in Atlanta Thursday night.
The City Winery is a new venue for Atlanta and it is a pleasant one. Mid-sized with a fairly large wine selection and good (but not cheap) food, it provides an intimate atmosphere and a stage that is visible to anyone sitting anywhere. At this concert, there was “hollering,” as we say down here in the South, and clapping, but everyone stayed at their tables, so no shoving or pushing. It was a perfect place for Jimbo Mathus to spread his charm and humor while introducing an amazing array of talent.
The Squirrel Nut Zippers are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their hit album Hot with a revival tour, and trust me, it is a revival! Your spirit and your body will be awakened by this music, guaranteed.
Lead singer/guitarist, banjo player and songwriter Mathus, along with sultry vocalist Ingrid Lucia, fiddler Dr. Sick, drummer Kevin O’Donnell, bassist Tamara Nicolai, who is well-loved in Atlanta, and a couple of hot horn players took the whole place back to the days of speakeasies and hot jazz with ease. Mathus kept up an easy and entertaining patter between songs and the show featured every member of the band, not an easy task with a band this size but The Squirrel Nut Zippers pulled it off with aplomb. Old fans and new were mesmerized and the show, which lasted a little less than two hours counting the encore, felt like about 15 minutes had passed it was so much fun.
Make no mistake. These people may be in constant motion and Mathus may be standing on the upright bass at one point, strings on banjos may be destroyed, and a lot of things may be going on all at once but at the bottom of it all, it is really amazing music.
After the show, Mathus stood at the side of the stage for quite a while, greeting, hugging, and taking photos with fans.
We can all be glad that as Mathus says, this is a “revival, not a reunion” because that means we can hope for a lot more heat from The Squirrel Nut Zippers for years to come!
In the meantime, a whole lot of people who attend shows across the country, including those of us in Atlanta, will be replacing our old vinyl and cassettes with the new vinyl edition of Hot!