Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Utah Symphony performed together Saturday night at Snow Park Lodge in another installment of the third annual Deer Valley Music Festival. And the crowd, smaller than recent concerts, was nevertheless enthusiastic. For a while, it looked as if a storm might cause a cancellation, but the skies held and the thunder and lightning that accompanied the first half of the concert moved off in another direction. Voodoo, perhaps?
Rather than the customary classical pieces, Conductor Scott O’Neil led the symphony orchestra in a series of swing tunes from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, including including Glen Miller’s "Sunrise Serenade" and "Tuxedo Junction," Count Basie’s "One O’clock Jump" and Duke Ellington’s "Satin Doll." The medley was followed by the standards, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Autumn Leaves." The set ended with a lively version of Ellington’s "Caravan."
Then it was time for the headliners. Scotty Morris and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, responsible for the "Swing Revival" of the ’90s, took the stage in a blur of choreographed boogie-woogie, nattily attired in swing-era suits, black-and-white spectator shoes and fedoras. As the story goes, legendary blues guitarist Albert Collins autographed a poster for Morris back in the ’80s, "To Scotty, the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy," and when it came time to name his band, there was never a second choice.
The nine-piece band, including a five-piece horn section, set everyone’s toes a-tapping with "King of Swing," followed by ""You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight," featured on the soundtrack of the 1996 movie "Swingers" starring Vince Vaughn. The piece ended with a tipsy Ferris wheel waltz.
Boyish Morris introduced the familiar Cab Calloway tune "Minnie the Moocher" and told a story of how Calloway, back in the ’30s, was performing the song at the Cotton Club and forgot the chorus. Fast on his feet, he started chanting, "Hi-dee-hi-dee-hi-dee-hi, ho-dee-ho-dee-ho-dee-ho," which subsequently became his trademark. (Some musical trivia to file away for use at the next cocktail party.)
New Orleans jazz and the Bourbon Street beat influenced a quartet of tunes from BBVD’s "Save My Soul" album. All written by Morris, they included "Zig Zaggity Woop Woop (part one)," "You Know You Wrong," "Big Time Operator" and "Simple Songs," which he wrote in the style of Louis Armstrong, for his daughter, who is a big fan of Satchmo.
The younger members of the audience immediately recognized "I Want to Be Just Like You," originally performed by Louis Prima, and featured as the monkey’s song, in the movie "Jungle Book." They were up on their feet, dancing and singing along. During most the concert, adult dancers were relegated to the far side of the grassy hill where there was room for jitterbug and boogie-woogie acrobatics.
O’Neil conducted versatile Utah Symphony on about half of BBVD’s tunes. While they provided an added dimension to the music, it was clear the band really needed no additional backup.
"Mr. Pinstripe Suit," title tune from the album, featured handsome string bass player Dirk Shumaker, appropriately attired, spinning his instrument as well as playing it. Morris recognized and introduced all of his band mates — who have developed their skills and chemistry over the past 13 years — and each had his time to shine. Soprano sax player Glen Marhevka, referred to only as "The Kid," was featured on many of the tunes, vocally as well as instrumentally.
The band finished their set with "Go Daddy-O," another tune heard in the movie "Swingers." Following the expected bows and brief exit, they returned with two encores, "So Long, Farewell, Goodbye" and "Mambo Swing," both from an early album, "American Deluxe." The audience was on their feet by then, moving to the beat, as the concert came to an end. Looking around, it was hard to tell who’d had the most fun — the crowd or the performers.
The Deer Valley Music Festival continues through Aug. 19. Check out the Scene calendar in The Park Record for performance times and locations, or call 1-800-864-9298.
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