Never doubt the value of a pot luck dinner.
After all, without this great tradition of sharing flavors, the Squirrel Nut Zippers might never have started playing. Nor would their music have sounded the same.Listening to the band stands on par with a pot-luck plate, littered with a sampling of dishes mixed together in a stew of flavors. Musical influences ranging from bluegrass to merengue to hot jazz all creep into their music, especially on their new album "Perennial Favorites."
The Squirrel Nut Zippers will play Provo's Club Omni on Sept. 11. Advance tickets are available for $18, or tickets may be purchased at the door for $22.
Ironically, the band seldom kicks into swing mode, despite its billing as one of the reigning kings of the hot retro trend. This did not happen accidentally, said guitarist-saxophonist-vocalist Tom Maxwell - and for a couple of reasons. First, the band members despise the swing trend. And second, they simply have too much else going into their musical stew.
Not that their sound or their attitude has stopped any trend-watch-ers.
"Fads and trends are great for media but terrible for music," the 32-year-old Maxwell said during a phone interview from New York. "Instead of putting everyone into neat little packages of the right music and right clothes for the club, we need to find everyone's common ground."
Maxwell's influences are rooted far away from the big band sound of the 1940s. His respect for the 1920s speakeasy jazz and calypso is evident through his knowledge of the music, while his first influences were rock bands of the late '60s and '70s.
"If it weren't for The Beatles, I would probably be an accountant right now," said Maxwell, who writes about half of the band's music.
The band, which formed in 1994, began by gathering at members' houses for rehearsal and pot-luck dinners. The dinners soon became events and provided the settings for some of the band's first per-for-mances.
The band broke out in late 1996 with their hit "Hell." That song, along with the movie "Swingers," opened the door for 1998s hottest trend - swing. That song and relentless touring, including a spot on the 1997 HORDE tour, helped their album "Hot" sell more than one million copies.
"I love playing live and hate to tour," Maxwell said, although he admitted that touring with Neil Young, and a future show with Tony Bennett, made traveling much easier.
Live performances have long made the Zippers club favorites, a setting that the band prefers.
"We love the intimacy," he said. "People are more attenuated to the music in a club."
Opening for Squirrel Nut Zippers will be the Latin rhythms of Bio Ritmo, whose music blends rhumba percussion with pop sensibility, and includes everything from long instrumentals to basic top 40 dance music - and even includes a cover of "Tequila."