Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s "A Swinging Christmas"
December 13, 2011
Back in the mid-1990s, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was among a collection of young swing-revival groups that got teens and young adults onto the dance floor to experience the Jitterbug and the Lindy Hop.
Although the trend has waned a bit, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy guitarist/vocalist Scotty Morris, drummer Kurt Sodergren, bassist Dirk Shumaker, baritone saxophonist Andy Rowley, clarinetist Karl Hunter, pianist Joshua Levy, trombonist Alex "Crazy Legs" Henderson and trumpeters Tom Bonsera and Glen "The Kid" Marhevka is still making music and is still bringing their vintage sound to anyone who wants to hear, said Marhevka.
The group is especially busy during the holiday season, thanks to an album called "Everything You Want for Christmas," which was released in 2004.
The disc features the songs "Blue Christmas," "Is Zat’ You Santa Claus," "Christmastime in Tinseltown" and "Mr. Heatmiser," from the Christmas claymation special "The Year Without a Santa Claus."
"’Mr. Heatmiser’ is a tune we grew up listening to on Christmas specials that were on TV every year and it’s a tune that most of our peers know from their childhood," Marhevka told The Park Record during an interview from Washington. "It’s close to our hearts and our peers’ hearts."
The band will bring its holiday show "A Swinging Christmas," featuring those songs and more, to the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Dec. 17.
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"It’s been a tradition for us to go out and do the holiday show," Marhevka said. "We do a lot of performing art centers and it’s really fun. We’re looking forward to coming to Park City. It’s so beautiful there. We’ve played Utah a lot and we love it."
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy formed in Oxnard, Calif, in 1989.
"There weren’t a lot of people playing jazz and swing music at our age when we started putting the band together," Marhevka said. "We got a bunch of guys together who liked to play this style of music. That was key, because, we took time selecting each guy for the horn section as the band was growing and when we got the right guys together, it sounded great and developed into a great band."
Marhevka, whose main idols are Doc Severinsen, Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, said it’s great for him and the band to bring swing music to new audiences.
"I think getting out there and doing this is great, because I think more people need to discover swing and jazz music, and the way to do that is to get out there to see and hear it," he said.
In 2009, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy released its first tribute CD, "How Big Can You Get? The Music of Cab Calloway."
"The main reason we did a Cab Calloway tribute album is because we played his song ‘Minnie the Moocher,’ one of the few covers we did," said Marhevka, who has played the trumpet since he was in fifth grade. "I saw him perform when I was in eighth grade. My folks took me to a concert he did at Disneyland of all places. I checked out two shows and was totally blown away."
The band members consider Calloway a "huge inspiration," Marhevka said.
"We all loved what he did and we talked about doing a tribute album and it seemed right," he said. "There were big celebrations for Duke Ellington’s 100-year anniversary, and since a lot of people don’t hear too much about Cab, we felt it was right, and when we started doing it, Cab would have been 100 years old. So it’s our 100-year tribute to him. It was really cool to do his music after all these years."
While the trumpet player takes pride in playing swing music in general, he doesn’t think the band feels any sense of responsibility to carry the swing-music torch.
"We just committed to play as much and in front of as many people as possible," he said.
After the holiday tour, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is scheduled for some studio work.
"In January, we’ll start recording a new album," Marhevka said. "We’ll rehearse for a week and record for a week. It will be a new album of classic cover arrangements."
The Park City Performing Arts Foundation will present Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s "A Swinging Christmas" at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $18 to $65 and available by calling (435) 655-3114 or visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org . Tickets can also be purchased at the box office at 1750 Kearns Blvd. For more information, visit http://www.ecclescenter.org.