The weather turned cold just in time for a holiday extravaganza at the well preserved, and Christmas festooned, Arcada Theatre in suburban St. Charles.
First up “Rosie and the Rivets” led by ‘Rosie’ a talented and gorgeous Drea de Matteo doppelganger that has great stage presence and an even better voice. They blasted through 50’s classics with flair, the only down point being when Rosie handed off lead vocals to the lead guitar player…competent in his guitar duties but the energy and talent level drop on vocals was quite evident. I also wished they played more originals as the one they ended with was quite good.
Next up the main event … as someone who owns exactly one Christmas album, and it happening to be ‘Christmas Caravan’ by the Squirrel Nut Zippers, I was looking forward to seeing these tunes be brought to life on stage. The Zip’s did not disappoint sprinkling in a heavy dose of that record along with some standards, and of course ‘the hits’ from their expansive catalogue. The Christmas songs were treated with reverence and set the mood for a proper holiday hootenanny. It took a tad longer than it should have but soon the crowd was dancing in the aisles as the music, Christmas or not, just makes your body move.
Not recognizing the new female vocalist, who did more costume changes than Lady Gaga would, I researched to find it is Schaefer Llana an extremely talented ‘old soul’ voice that fit in with utter ease into the SNZ family. As usual, the current players are all extremely talented, tight, and most play multiple instruments…and sing! Dr. Sick aka The Fiddle Killer aka Justin Carr provides the perfect sideman/wingman role to Jimbo’s crazed bandleader persona. If this Christmas Caravan roles into your town, gas up the sleigh and get there.