The Squirrel Nut Zippers are the eclectic swing equivalent to Lenny Kravitz. They have a sound that shouts Dixieland and an aura that mimics a voodoo speakeasy's house band. If you haven't heard them, you are missing out.

    The Squirrel Nut Zippers have several full-length albums out, each with a unique sound, yet all undeniably SNZ. Most albums the Zippers put out have something special on them. The "Hot," Perennial Favorites," and "Bedlam Ballroom" all have very cool interactive ECD's. In addition to that, original printings of the CD's come in fold-out cardboard, and the Bedlam Ballroom original pressing is marked with a holographic cover. The albums to date are:

  • The Inevitable, 1995 - This was the band's first release, on Mammoth Records. The sound here is reminiscent of prohibition age rag. Although it's their freshman effort, they have their sound well defined and showcase excellent musicianship and mature composition. There are several quintessential SNZ songs on this album, including "Good Enough for Grandad" and "La Grippe."
  • Hot, 1996 - "Hot" is the album which brought SNZ to fame. Their single "Hell" was haunting and catchy, and did well in radio rotation. "Put a Lid on It" was used in a popular Apple Computer commercial. Many consider this to be the must have album of the Zippers; every song is one of their best. Personally my favorite SNZ album, excellent tracks on this effort are "Hell", "Put a Lid on it", "Prince Nez" and "Blue Angel.''
  • Perennial Favorites, 1998 - This album goes full into the campy mysticism of the South. "Perennial Favorites" has the songs "Suits are Picking up the Bill" and "Ghost of Stephen Foster" as memorable tunes, although the album is very strong throughout. The video for "Ghost of Stephen Foster" is a recreation of the old Bosco cartoons, and won an award for its animation.
  • Christmas Caravan, 1998 - Caravan is a collection of Christmas odes done Zipper Style. 
  • Bedlam Ballroom, 2000 - This album saw the loss of many original members of the Zippers, including Tom Maxwell, who was responsible for much of the Zippers' earlier sound. Relying heavily on James Mathus' songwriting, this album has a distinctly different sound than the previous albums, and tends to date itself in 40's club swing. "Stop Drop and Roll," "Bedlam Reprise" and "Bent Out of Shape" are this albums highlights.


SNZ also have 2 EP's out, entitled:

But both of these are currently out of print.


 

    The line-up of the band has changed though the years and it's hard at times to tell who's who, what they're playing and on what album. So I, in my omniscience, compiled a list of the bands members, what they played, and their duration with the band. Founding Members are in Bold.

Chris Phillips: Drums

  • Played on Albums: The Inevitable - Bedlam Ballroom

Stacy Guess:  Trumpet

  • Played on Albums: The Inevitable

Note: Stacy wrote an early version of the song "Bedlam Ballroom," which went onto the "Sold Out" EP in 1997. Guess died a year later, and the Zippers released a new version of the song on their 2000 release of the same name. SNZ also set up a scholarship in his honor, see trianglecf.org.

Don Raleigh: Sting Bass

  • Played on Albums: The Inevitable - Hot

Katherine Whalen: Vocals, Banjo

  • Played on Albums: The Inevitable - Bedlam Ballroom

Note: Katherine Whalen is the voice on songs like "My Drag" and "Prince Nez" who bears a resemblence to  Billy Holiday.

Ken Mosher: Saxophone, Guitar and Vocals

  • Played on Albums: The Inevitable - Perennial Favorites

James Mathus: Guitar, Vocals

  • Played on Albums: The Inevitable - Bedlam Ballroom

Note: SNZ seems to be the brainchild of James.

Tom Maxwell: Guitar, Vocals, Percussion

  • Played on Albums: The Inevitable - Perennial Favorites

David Wright: Trombone, Piano, Vocals

  • Played on Albums: Bedlam Ballroom

Reese Gray: Piano, Organ

  • Played on Albums: Bedlam Ballroom

Tim Smith: Saxophone, Flute, Vocals

  • Played on Albums: Bedlam Ballroom

Je Widenhouse: Trumpet

  • Played on Albums: Perennial Favorites - Bedlam Ballroom

Stuart Cole: Bass, Vocals

  • Played on Albums: Perennial Favorites - Bedlam Ballroom

    An interesting note: The Squirrel Nut Zippers were being sued by Southern Style Nuts, Inc. for using the name of their product,  "Squirrel Nut Zippers."

A Squirrel Nut Zipper is a kind of candy made by Southern Style Nuts. They were previously made by some other company who had no problem with them using the name (I mean, who's going to mistake a band for candy?) but there were recent legal troubles with the new trademark owners and their latest release, "Bedlam Ballroom" has the disclaimer "Squirrel Nut Zippers (tm) name and mark used under license from Southern Style Nuts, Inc. Not otherwise affiliated with Southern Style Nuts, Inc."

I've never been able to find the candy, I assume it's easier to find in the NC area than in California. From what I've heard though, it's really bad for your teeth, and has been known to suck out fillings if you're not careful. Sounds like my kind of stuff.

Squirrel Nut Zippers are a candy product of the Squirrel Nut Brand Company originally out of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Most famous for its chocolate-caramel-peanut Squirrel Nuts, Squirrel Nut Zippers are the vanilla companion to the classic candy. Individually wrapped in small wax paper packages, they can be found in old-fashioned penny candy stores and also in jugs atop convenience store counters. A dentist’s favorite, they are likely to get stuck in your teeth more so than even Milk Duds and are bound to rip out a filling or two. Strangely more appealing when they are stale and hard as a rock, Squirrel Nut Zippers are a fun treat and a cruel joke.


“Back in the 1930's a man in Vermont was talked down out of a tree and blamed his craziness on "that dang nut zipper" a local hooch. We thought our vanilla caramel with peanuts was pretty crazy and appropriated the name.”
-- Squirrel Nut Brand

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