It was nice summer night, just the right night to let out a little of the big bad voodoo that they do so well. That’s right, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was in town at The Birchmere on Sunday! What a way to send the weekend out with a bang and welcome the new week in with a zig zaggity woop woop!
The lights went down, the guys took the stage (looking dapper as always) and within seconds the notes started bouncing from the stage and from that point on there was no slowing down. The train had left the station and it was only going to pick up steam from this point on. Tunes like ‘Calloway Boogie’ to ‘Five Ten Fifteen Times I Love You’ to ‘Mambo Swing’ would roll over the sold out crowd. The audience would delight as Glen ‘The Kid’, Andy, Karl, Anthony and Alex – the talented horn section of BBVD – periodically emerged from behind the microphones to take center and hit the crowd with their solos. As one would end their solo another would pick up right up and the crowd toe tapping and bouncing right along with each note as it echoed through the hall.
But it wasn’t just the horns that got all the spotlight and attention. Dirk spun his stand-up bass and Joshua’s fingers danced across the keys as fast as Kurt’s sticks were able to find their way around the kit. Throughout the night the whole band had a few times to showcase what also makes them the Biggest Baddest Voodoo-est Daddies around around (ok, so maybe voodoo-est is just made up but work with me here).
Of course we cannot forget the man in the hat, Scotty. He’s the main voice, guitarist, and hard working frontman for the group. His, what I think, iconic voice rings loud and proud through each song. And his skilled songwriting has helped define the sound of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. He spends the show crooning away, roping in the audience, slinging the guitar and banjo, and always bringing extra attention to the rest of the guys in the band. He keeps the audience engaged hopping, roaring, singing, and clapping along.
There is one thing you can say about a BBVD show and that is they never phone it in. Out of all of their shows I have seen, their energy has always been top notch, their sound has always been spot on, and tonight was no exception. The talent and skills exhibited by these 9 musicians never surprises me yet always impresses. They are able to engage their audience and make them a part of the show and not just a collection of people watching but an extension of the band themselves. This speaks not just to their showmanship but also how they think of their audience. I don’t think a band can successfully last for 22 years on their skills alone, it’s also the way they bring the stage alive and draw the crowd to in make them feel more than just spectators that matters.. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has this special kind of magic.
Twenty-two years and they are getting stronger and sounding better with age. I was saying to my fellow tablemates before the show started, the band hit it big with the neo-swing movement in the 90’s but had staying power because they weren’t just trying to capitalize on the ‘it’ sound for the time. They were never a flash in the pan but are truly masters of the genre. and They are introducing new generations to the art and style of swing and beyond by incorporating the sounds of 1930’s jazz, 1920s ragtime, and other genres.
The show ended and there were lots of smiling faces both from the stage and from the audience. A couple of standing ovations and the instruments finally came to their resting place. The sticks stopped beating the skins, the strings quite their vibrations and the horns stopped their blowing. The guys made their exit and the house lights came back on.
A Big Bad Voodoo Daddy show never disappoints. Their impeccable sound has remained constant throughout the years but this is not to say they have stagnated. What BBVD has done, is cemented themselves as one of the premiere big bands of the modern era and by sticking true to their roots and over time reaching back into the swing vaults and more to dust off songs probably not heard of in generations. By weaving in the classic songs with original compositions, they are keeping the spirit and artistry alive and kicking, sorry, alive and swingin!
One last note that I just have to add, because I think it is a cool story. We sat next to a couple that were there recreating a failed attempt at a first date from 15 years ago. Back then, BBVD had to cancel a show because of a freak snowstorm down south (spoiler-alert they end up together in the end). So anyway, the couple found out about Sunday’s show at The Birchmere but it was sold out. On a whim, the guy sent a message to BBVD’s Facebook page and told their tale. The band ever so cooly responded that there was two tickets waiting for them at the box office. See, that is what I mean about how BBVD thinks about their fans. Hope you guys had a great re-First Date!
Big Bad VooDoo Daddy – Birchmere – July 26, 2015