By Jane Spietz
WHAT: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
WHERE: EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh WI
WHEN: 7 PM Friday, August 1
COST: EAA members $28, non-members $43
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (BBVD) is a contemporary swing revival band that hails from Southern California. Their high energy live performances never fail to get audiences to their feet, so it is no surprise that they are followed by a huge loyal fan base.
BBVD’s music has been widely used in numerous television shows, films, and trailers, including the 1996 indie film Swingers which brought about instant worldwide recognition for the group. Two of their most popular tunes are “You & Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight” and “Go Daddy-O.” One of the most familiar tunes performed by BBVD is “I Wan’na Be Like You (Monkey Song)” from Disney’s The Jungle Book sound track. The group performed during the 1999 Super Bowl halftime show along with Gloria Estefan and Stevie Wonder.
BBVD’s latest release, Rattle Them Bones (2012), has been well-received.
Having just celebrated 21years together, BBVD consists of Scotty Morris (lead vocals and guitar), Kurt Sodergren (drums and percussion), Dirk Shumaker (double bass and vocals), Andy Rowley (baritone saxophone and vocals), Glen “The Kid” Marhevka (trumpet), Karl Hunter (saxophones and clarinet) and Joshua Levy (piano and arranger). Anthony Bonsera Jr. (lead trumpet) and Alex Henderson (trombone) accompany the band when on tour.
BBVD will serve as the highlight to the salute to veterans at the 2014 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI during an evening concert on Friday, August 1. Hopefully BBVD can grab some great photo ops with a few vintage planes during their stay in Oshkosh!
I connected with trumpet player Glen “The Kid” Marhevka not long ago.
Jane Spietz: Please talk about the origin of the band’s name.
Glen “The Kid” Marhevka: Our Singer Scotty Morris went to an Albert Collins concert and he signed a poster for Scotty that said ‘To Scotty the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.’
JS: Give us a brief history about how BBVD came together as a group.
GM: BBVD started out with our drummer Kurt and our singer Scotty. They started playing blues and wanted to do more jazz and swing music. They added Dirk our bass player then started adding horns. Andy started playing sax, and then Glen “the Kid” was added on trumpet. We played as a 6 piece for a while and then added Karl Hunter to play sax and then Joshua Levy to add piano to the band. That core line-up has been in place for about 20 years now.
JS: Describe the music of BBVD.
GM: We play American music. Jazz, swing and the blues from the early 1900’s to about the 1960’s. Most of our songs are original in these styles.
JS: Who were some of your musical inspirations?
GM: Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and Tom Waits to name a few.
JS: In reviving the music of days gone by, how have you been able to successfully compete with modern musical genres?
GM: We have developed our own sound over the years and our live show is very exciting to see in person. This band is a real show band and has a very high level of musicianship on stage.
JS: To what do you attribute the renewed interest in swing?
GM: This music has always been there and has been popular. We were able to present it in a modern way that appeals to a young and old audience.
JS: Your period costuming is amazing. How is that handled?
GM: We just wear classic suits on stage. Look at a Dizzy Gillespie album from the 1950’s and see how cool he looked. We just try and emulate that. It isn’t costuming at all; it is just a classic timeless look.
JS: What was the reaction after your music was featured in the 1996 film Swingers?
GM: Instantly we were known all over the world. Before that we had built up a large fan base on the west coast from San Francisco to San Diego. Once the movie came out there were lines around the block everywhere we played. It was a game changer.
JS: What was it like to perform during the 1999 Super Bowl halftime show along with Gloria Estefan and Stevie Wonder?
GM: Surreal and unique! Still can’t believe we were able to play with Stevie.
JS: How did it feel to reach the 20th anniversary of BBVD?
GM: It is a pretty great feeling to be together for that many years. The best part is that it is all the same guys and that we all are great friends.
JS: Talk about BBVD’s latest release, Rattle Them Bones.
GM: Rattle Them Bones is one of our best sounding albums to date. The band has gotten better over our 20 plus years together, and this album really shows that the level of musicianship has improved. It has some great tunes in the classic American jazz style from New Orleans traditional jazz “devils dance” to early prohibition era sounds on “Diga Diga Do.” There’s even a Randy Newman song called “It’s Lonely at the Top” that was originally written for Frank Sinatra. It’s a very exciting album!
JS: BBVD will be performing at the EAA AirVenture on August 1 in Oshkosh WI. Are any of you guys airplane buffs? There will be plenty to see and do there.
GM: We travel on planes all the time, and love the look of old vintage planes. We are excited to be a part of the EAA AirVenture!
JS: People are getting pretty excited about this show. What can your audience expect from BBVD that evening?
GM: It will be a fun exciting show that will have people walking away with smiles on their faces!
JS: Thanks so much for sharing. See you in Oshkosh!
GM: Thanks! Looking forward to returning to Oshkosh! ν
Jane Spietz is a community activist and social worker who loves music.