Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Holiday Show Deember 17, 2008
By Glen Creason
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brought some intoxicating Christmas cheer to the Center for the Performing Arts at midweek, leaving the holiday clichés out and injecting a swinging eclecticism into the proceedings that pleased the packed house from the boxes to the balconies. The solidly stylish group dressed up some little known classics in double-breasted suits and fedoras while eschewing the soft stuff and swinging the big and festive hall for a full-throttle ninety minutes of fun. It was like one of those exotically named cocktails of Yule yore, a delicious concoction filled with old libations that mixed appropriately can have a euphoric effect. On this chilly night outside, it all worked to warm the faithful who even sang along a bit after loosening up with some chair boogie and a lot of blasting brass. The band came out strong, rather like shot from cannon and did not take a breath that wasn’t full of rhythm. Leader Scotty Morris stands up front, singing and playing his guitar alongside smiling, Der-Binglesque bassist Dirk Shumaker while drummer Kurt Sodergren applies a swinging steady beat. On one side of the colorful stage is the very fine barrelhouse piano player Joshua Levy and on the other the essential and wildly wonderful horn section of Andy Rowley on saxophone, Glen .The Kid. Marhevka on trumpet, Alex Henderson on trombone and Karl Hunter on saxophones and clarinet. The thing that really sets the show apart, however is the song choices that ranged from all over the musical world.
Maybe some of these won’t appear on that K-Tel Christmas hits list but they are well worth adding to the Yule play list including the show-opening “Rockabilly Christmas,” “Santa Claus Boogie,” “Mister Heat Miser” “Christmastime in Tinseltown,” and the wild “Last Night I Went Out with Santa Claus” that all gave sounds of the season a sweeter outlook. There were others that were just turned a bit and made strangely tasty by the band’s outlook like a “Blue Christmas” with Louis Prima’s and Elvis’ groove made into a hybrid sound that worked well. Along with the holiday sounds the BBVD also played some fine old distilled gems like “Zig Zaggy Woop Woop” from the Big Easy and “A Party for Santa” straight out of the most obvious Christmas stronghold: the Caribbean. A set dedicated to the great Cab Calloway featuring “Jim Jam Jump,” “Hey Now,” and “Reefer Man” was sandwiched in between slices of other Yule candy including the sparkling “Go Santa Go” and the “Is That You Santa Claus” that while it wasn’t Satchmo is was pretty good. Tossed into the bag were some other hot numbers like the fiery “Jumpin Jack” that allowed every band member to shine and the evergreen “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Aint Got That Swing” along with the band’s hit “I Just Want to Be Like You” As the party progressed the horns just got tighter and stronger, finally reaching some crescendos that blew the brimmed hats off the gents in the audience. This kind of Christmas party you can get used to.