Q+A with LEAF performer Jimbo Mathus of Squirrel Nut Zippers

Photo courtesy of the band's Facebook page

Xpress is speaking with artists and performers in advance of the upcoming autumn LEAF festival, a weekend dedicated to art and music held Thursday, Oct. 20, through Sunday, Oct. 23. Tickets are available through Oct. 20, unless they sell out sooner.

The band, formed in 1993, got the name Squirrel Nut Zippers from the headline of an article about a man who climbed a tree, drunk off of a sort of bootleg moonshine known as “Nut Zippers.” Jimbo Mathus, the founding member of that Chapel Hill swing revival group, talks about his lengthy history with the band. Squirrel Nut Zippers perform Sunday on the Lakeside stage, 4:30-6 p.m.

Xpress: Squirrel Nut Zippers first got together in Chapel Hill. How was that area conducive to the spark that started the band?

Jimbo Mathus: I moved to Chapel Hill from Mississippi in 1989 for the very purpose of studying the roots of American music. I was able to use the library systems and university resources to piece together the full puzzle of American music, theater and the arts. I was also impressed by the opportunities for original music and art to be performed in the Chapel Hill and North Carolina area. The formation of the Zippers was the natural culmination of this interest and research.

Having been a band for over 20 years, how would you say your musical approach has changed the most?

I have been actively engaged in music performance and production for the past 30 years. It never ceases to amaze me how much more there is to learn.

With a new lineup for the 20th anniversary of your best-selling album, Hot, can we expect a newer sound for your live performance at LEAF festival this year?

I have been fortunate enough to recruit among the best of the best musicians and entertainers from the Southeast, particularly New Orleans. These players encompass the fields of jazz, vaudeville and burlesque. The new show is a realization of all of the potential that lay in the material that we wrote and performed 20 years ago. It is truly a dream come true.

 

SHARE

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.