CD review: The Chicken Chasers, Beggars Can't Be Schmoozers (with video)

The eclectic genre-crossing sonics are paired with hilariously irreverent commentary on modern living (war, internet dating, Capitalism) by singer and concertina player Meyer “Little Squeeze” Baron. His brassy warm vocals hint at Sinatra, but carry a sardonic undertone, and he’s just as likely to speak-sing as belt out his grin-inducing lyrics. (My favorite from “No Way to Meet a WiFi”: “I’m just searching for a little romance / But before I even get a chance / I google in my pants.” Nimble-fingered upright bassist Anne “Bette M” Van Atta offers cool grooves and deep vocal backup, two multi-instrumentalists bring whimsy and class – Dave “St. Peach” Cotton on soprano sax, clarinet, guitar and vox, Marlin Grando on keys, clarinet, trumpet and bass clarinet – and Andrew “Blinky” Mort rounds it out with shuffling or bounding rhythms. Overall, Beggars Can’t Be Schmoozers is a fun, funny, high quality first effort. Next show: January 20 at Ringside Café, St. Petersburg.


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Here's a video of the band performing "It's a Sunny Day" at their usual stomping ground, Dave's Aqua Lounge, last May.


Don’t let the name deter you – the St. Pete-based sextet may have taken their handle from notorious “chicken chaser” Chico Marx, but The Chicken Chasers are inspired by his high-spirited piano playing, not by his womanizing ways.

And there’s no doubt Marx would be pleased by his influence on Beggars Can’t Be Schmoozers, a debut LP of bewitching, vibrant numbers delivered in the band’s self-styled “schving” brand of swing and Klezmer, and infused with elements of nightclub blues, vintage rock, zesty tango, and gypsy jazz.

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