Good Enough For Grandad

It isn't easy to admit, but after some careful research I've come to the conclusion that I'm getting old. This only bothers me in so much as it may require changes to my lifestyle. Not many, I hope. I don't plan to stop going to see live music anytime soon, but the ability to drink craft beer twenty feet from the stage in a small venue seems better and better when the alternative is often overpriced domestic lager at a huge club where good views involve a degree of jockeying and jostling that I don't care to be bothered with anymore. In other words, I'm glad their current tour brought the Squirrel Nut Zippers to the Ram's Head in Annapolis on Monday evening.

Announcing early on that they would be doing some "Southern Gothic Ventriloquism," the octet kicked into high gear almost immediately and rarely paused for more than a few moments during their ninety minute set. With the exception of a cover of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More," they stuck to originals, the bulk of which appear on Hot and Perennial Favorites, their second and third full-length albums. Billing this cross-country trek as "The Antidote for the Latest, Greatest Depression," the band cheered the audience with a riotous blend of blues, jazz, boogaloo, calypso, and ragtime. Singers Jimbo Mathus and Katharine Whalen harmonized well and Chris Phillips played his trap kit with flare, but for my money, the horn section stole the show, especially on whimsical numbers like "Prince Nez" or "Suits Are Picking Up the Bill." Some people in attendance, in spite of the average age at the Ram's Head that night, found it difficult to sit still; by the end of the concert they were literally dancing in the aisles. After a show like that, I've changed my mind. Growing old could be fun after all.

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