1993, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Squirrel Nut Zippers formed. They are often lumped in with the late 90’s swing revival, but unlike all the bands that do fit into that genera, they are really purveyors of earlier music: gypsy jazz, klezmer, and Delta blues. Their sound is often reminiscent of Django Reinhardt, King Oliver (The opening track on this year’s mix), Jimmy Dorsey, and Billy Holiday. To me, they have always felt a large cut above the rest of the bands they were lumped in with. They lasted until the early 2000s, leaving five amazing albums. A mix of original and new members are touring right now in support of the 20th anniversary of the Hot album.
The song has many connections to reality. The real Stephen Foster was a songwriter in the 1800s who wrote “Camptown Races”. He fell from fever and cut his neck, which led to his death a few days later. Perhaps his ghost haunts the hotel.