When bandmembers Jim Mathus and Katharine Whalen left the bustling college town of Chapel Hill, N.C. for rural Efland four years ago, their plan was to renovate a quaint farmhouse.
Little did they know that today they and five of their friends would, in many ways, be renovating mainstream music with the nostalgic sounds of swing jazz.
But the Zippers apparently realize they couldn't have made it to this place alone. As a way to thank those who helped them along the way, the band will take the time to show their devoted fans their appreciation with a free show in their native Carrboro, N.C. on Sept. 19.
Live music seemed to be the best gift the '20s revivalists could offer those who supported their music early on, according to drummer Chris Phillips. "The live show is where it's at for us," he said. "The studio recordings kinda scratch the surface of what we do live."
The Zippers have asked frequent touring partners Bio Ritmo and the North
Carolinian alternative country act, Two Dollar Pistols, to join the bill. The
show will take place at the Carrboro Town Commons in Carrboro, N.C., home also to the band's record label, Mammoth Records. The alcohol-free party will be open to friends, family and fans of all ages, according to organizers. The only cost to attendees will be the $1 fare for the parking shuttle, proceeds of which will go toward the building of a band shell in the Town Commons area and the 1998 launching of the Carrboro Music Festival.
This event follows the Sept. 9 release of the Sold Out EP, a
collection of Zippers collectors' gems. Included on the CD are a salsa-fied
(courtesy of Bio Ritmo) version of "La Grippe" recorded at Atlanta's Roxy
Theater, "Pallin' With Al," dedicated to guitarist Al Casey, the only
surviving member of the Fat Waller Band, a cover of Bostonian Milo Jones' "I
Raise Hell," "St. Louis Cemetery Blues," a teaser from the next Zippers album,
and a bonus track, "name," the 1937 jolly paean to marijuana, "Santa Claus
Is Smoking Reefer."
"The CD is a collection of live performances that span the history of the
band," the band's guitarist/saxophonist Ken Mosher said. "We feel that our hard-core fan base -- people who seek out music through the Internet, live shows, mail order, etc. -- will appreciate a special limited release (such as this)."
The limited pressing of Sold Out will be distributed to the independent stores who stocked and championed the Zippers since their 1995 debut, The Inevitable Squirrel Nut Zippers.
The number of copies a particular store or chain gets of the EP will be based on
their support of the band since the first record, said Taylor Mayo, director
of national publicity for Mammoth, and "not just on how much an account has
moved since the single ("Hell") started taking off."
The Zippers' breakthrough single, "Hell," has enjoyed heavy rotation at many of the nation's major commercial alternative radio stations while the accompanying video spent time in MTV's Buzz Bin. The rousing follow-up single, "Put A Lid On It," has proven the outfit's staying power and ability to shake the expected "novelty" tags. Sold Out serves as a testament to the Squirrel Nut Zippers' passion and panache for live performance.
And it's not a bad collector's item -- the EP will only be available at shows and through mail order after the initial retail shipment of 25,000 is exhausted, making the title even more appropriate. [Mon., Sept. 8, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]