7/25: Squirrel Nut Zippers at Cain Park

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One-hit wonders always have interesting stories. When that one hit comes in the shape of a campy, overtly theatrical take on 1920s hot jazz and performed by a group named after a candy bar, it makes for an odd tale indeed. Squirrel Nut Zippers’ big moment came in 1996 with “Hell,” a raucous take on swinging calypso. The Zippers’ sound was raw and rocking, without ever coming within reach of real rock, and its infectious energy helped the band ride a wave of big-band nostalgia that was sweeping the nation. At the same time, jazz purists decried the group for both its amateurish technique and for the Zippers’ campy approach to their beloved music. While there’s no doubt that their critics were kinda right about all that, there’s no denying the immediacy and grin-inducing power of the band’s music. Since their swinging entrance, the Zippers have varied their sound a bit, culminating on 2000’s Bedlam Ballroom, which fits funk and flamenco sounds alongside the expected Dixieland numbers. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Cain Park (14591 Superior Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216.371.3000). Tickets: $16-$20. — Nicholas Hall

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