Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Squirrel Nut Zippers "Suits Are Picking Up the Bill " Music Video

One of my favorite neo-swing bands, in the tradition of old-school jazz as well as contemporary groups like "The Cherry-Popping Daddies" and the dirty boogie sound of the former Stray Cat Brian Setzer group. Here's the lowdown on them, from Wikipedia:

The band was founded by James "Jimbo" Mathus, formerly of Metalflake Mother and Johnny Vomit & The Dry Heaves, and his then-wife Katharine Whalen in Carrboro, North Carolina along with Chris Phillips, Don Raleigh and Ken Mosher. The group made its debut in Chapel Hill a few months later. Stacy Guess (formerly of Pressure Boys) joined shortly after.

"Nut Zippers," is a southern term for a variety of old bootleg moonshine, and the band's name comes from a newspaper account which related the story of a highly intoxicated man who climbed a tree one night, refusing to come down even after authorities arrived. The article's headline read: "Squirrel Nut Zipper."[2][3] It is also the name of a candy dating back to 1890.[4]

The band was initially lumped into the "lounge" movement, along with Combustible Edison, and credited as part of the brief swing music revival of the 1990s. The Zippers' sound incorporates a broad range of music, ranging in influence from Harlem Hot Music, Cab Calloway, Johnny Ace, Delta Blues, Raymond Scott, Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt, Tom Waits, and klezmer. The band's break-through single, "Hell", was distinguished by calypso rhythms, and helped push the band into further association with the "Neo Swing" movement.
directed by Norwood Cheek and Grady Cooper


  1. Reassuring to see Tony Blair in the waiter role here Doug.....the video had something of a Dennis Potter feel about it to me, probably because of the Swing band of course and the general absurdity of the situation.

    It is interesting to me that both Potter and the makers of this video show Swing Revivalists in a surreal world of unabashed gluttony but carrying with them the spirit of Dada from the 1930s and now depositing it on YouTube to be perpetually resurrected.

    Apparently all you had to do back in the hey day of Swing was to make booze illegal and the party really took off.

    The resounding hedonism of the Depression has echoed in the folk memory of the Western world ever since....and Russia too .....whether Momma allowed it, or not... it remains an 'irony in the soul' - to paraphrase Sartré- the freestyle offspring of depression and repression, you couldn't make it up!

    Great retro sound and slapstick pranks here Doug, the internet makes everything eternal, thanks for selecting it and sharing it.

  2. LOL. Mr. Blair is a man of great contrasts. Perhaps someday he can perform skits with his best mate Bush at the World Court Detention Center Talent Tryouts at The Hague.

    Yes, I think the video is really well done--and I applaud the fact that some one in the music industry is not afraid to take on the fat-cats of the International Cannibal Lobby and their well-financed minions in the restaurant industry.

    Yes, The Prohibition Era had its detractors, but it made every lots of non-puritans in America true rebels!

    It's indeed very Dennis Potteresque. One expects Michael Gambon or Bob Hoskins to walk in at any minute.

    The best of income inequality in America is here for all to see. One minute artists can be the toast of the town, and the next minute they wind up almost being served on toast.

    You're most welcome AA. Thanks for your comments.

  3. Love SNZ, Royal Crown Revue, and Cherry Poppin' Daddies...reminds of my days in jazz band in college. Great fun!

  4. One of my favorites from this time period as well, Jack.

  5. How cool. What instrument did you play Shedrick?

  6. I played trumpet all through junior high, high school, and two years of college before concentrating on finishing my English degree. I really miss it.

  7. That's a considerable chunk of your young life. I hope you get a chance to get back into playing trumpet of some other instrument one of these days.