The late, great producer, raconteur, pianist, session man, artist and sage Jim Dickinson once called Jimbo Mathus "the singing voice of Huck Finn." Outside the South, Jimbo is likely best known as the ringleader of the hyper-ragtime outfit Squirrel Nut Zippers, or as the catalyst for Buddy Guy's breakthrough “Sweet Tea” in 2001 and Guy's Grammy-winning Blues Singer album. In his native Mississippi, and throughout the South, Mathus is recognized as the prolific songwriter of born-in-the-bone Southern music, the torchbearer for Deep South mythology and culture. Think Delta highways, bowling-pin Budweisers and "innerplanetary honky-tonk" for the masses. His credits include vocals on the North Mississippi Allstars' “Electric Blue Watermelon” and was, himself, Grammy-nominated for his participation on the Jim Dickinson memorial album, Onward and Upward as a member of Luther Dickinson & The Sons of Mudboy. He recorded Confederate Buddha, his latest solo album, with his current band The Tri-State Coalition, featuring solid talent cut from the same Delta cloth. He describes the sound as "...a true Southern amalgam of blues, white country, soul and rock-n-roll."
On August 2nd, Katharine Whalen will release her newest full-length album, “Madly Love”. Best known as a founding member of 1990’s band Squirrel Nut Zippers (with whom she sold over 3 Million records), Whalen’s work post-Zippers has ranged from her own take on jazz standards with “Katharine Whalen’s Jazz Squad” to the avant-pop of her “Dirty Little Secret” release. Whalen started writing the songs on “Madly Love” during her last couple of years with the Zippers and says that the songs, “manifest a very true voice for me”. It’s hard to categorize the music on “Madly Love”, but one could make the case that its blend of Irish blues and Southern-tinged rock falls under the rather broad definition of “Folk Music”. Whalen notes, “As I wrote these songs, I was accessing very early memories of the grown-ups playing records constantly around the house. Arlo Guthrie, The Everly Brothers, Mitch and Mickey, The Folks Men, and “The ‘New’ Main Street Singers were in heavy rotation, not to mention Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs!”
Whalen is a chronic passionate creator, and the common thread winding its way through her creations – be it music, building dollhouses, drafting posters, or writing her column on picnics for a local paper in her North Carolina hometown – is a general contagious exuberance. With “Madly Love”, she offers up a raucous (yet, at times bittersweet) collage of news-clipping from the pages of her life; swinging and swaying, our heroic belter throws open the barn doors, and we can’t help but join the party!
Tickets for Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition plus the Wildcat O’Halloran Band at the Iron Horse on Monday July 18th at 7PM and for Katharine Whalen and Her Fascinators plus the Primate Fiasco at the Iron Horse on Wednesday, August 17th at 7PM are available at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.