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Squirrel Nut Zippers // Live @ The Ludlow Garage // 10.27.22

Article & photos by: Linda Carlson

Cincinnati, OH – In a broad and crowded entertainment field, Squirrel Nut Zippers is a band that is quite remarkable.  They are a crazy, delightful blend of gypsy jazz, swing and… vaudeville.  It’s an intoxicating mix that has to be experienced to fully appreciate.  The band is a true ensemble of musicians who bring an eclectic range of instruments, such as the trombone, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, piano, bongos, fiddle, banjo (and yes, the saw) alongside the guitar and drums.

Squirrel Nut Zippers

From start (“Happy Days Are Here Again”) to finish (“We’ll Meet Again”), songs ranged from soulful to playful to eerie, with vocals shared by the ensemble cast, from enigmatic founder Jimbo Mathus, to devilish Dr. Sick to sultry siren Schaefer Llana (standing in for Cella Blue), and more.  It’s hard to find more range and fun on a single stage.

Squirrel Nut Zippers


Squirrel Nut Zippers

Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Dr. Sick is a particular fan favorite, able to delight the crowd with more than his musical prowess.  Beyond playing a wide range of instruments, he has a natural flair for physical comedy, and his flashes of devilish expression are superb.  His suggestive performance of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” was terrific.

Squirrel Nut Zippers

Fans come prepared to engage in a SNZ show, often dressing in period attire for the sheer fun of it.  These dedicated SNZ devotees are similar to fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where participation is part of the experience.  The theater-style seating at The Ludlow Garage did not prevent fans from dancing and cheering, particularly during the band’s encore, when the crowd filled the aisles cheering, clapping, laughing and dancing in full SNZ style.

The full setlist is below:

  • Happy Days Are Here Again
  • La Grippe
  • Suits Are Picking Up the Bill
  • Memphis Exorcism
  • It Ain’t You
  • La Fittes
  • Animule Ball
  • Wash Jones
  • Got My Own Thing Now
  • Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
  • She’s Ballin’
  • Put a Lid on It
  • Wished for You
  • Good Enough for Granddad
  • Bad Businessman
  • Hell
  • Ghost of Stephen Foster


  • Axman Jazz (Don’t Scare Me Papa)
  • Prince Nez
  • We’ll Meet Again (Vera Lynn cover)

The band is touring through the winter.  Shake off the winter cold by attending a performance near you (

Linda Carlson
Linda has been photographing people since she was ten. Forever intrigued by the complex beauty of the human form, she brings the eye of a portraitist to the unpredictability and spectacle of the concert scene.