Grab your zoot suit and fedora hat, get your dance shoes polished, and head over to the Barre Opera House at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 for an evening of modern swing music with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Here’s a band that will have you jumping out of your seat as you rush to find a space on the Opera House floor to strut your stuff.
This septet from California is itself garbed in zoot suits, and has appeared in concert venues across the world, sold millions of records, and had their music appear in hundreds of movies and television shows. They’ve played the Hollywood Bowl and Lincoln Center, and made television appearances ranging from Dancing with the Stars to Superbowl XXXIII in 1999.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy says it is on a decades-long mission to celebrate and revitalize jazz and swing music, an American original musical art form. Their notable singles include “Go Daddy-O,” “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit.”
The band was formed in Ventura, California, in 1989 by leader Scotty Morris, and gets its name from a chance meeting Morris had with blues guitarist Albert Collins after a concert.
“He signed my poster ‘To Scotty, the big bad voodoo daddy’,” Morris explained in an online interview. “I thought it was the coolest name I ever heard on one of the coolest musical nights I ever had. So when it came time to name this band, I didn’t really have a choice. I felt like it was handed down to me.”
Morris and Kurt Sodergren are the two original members, with the rest of the band joining later. The band concentrated on the swing of the 1940s and ‘50s, playing clubs and lounges in their early years.
The band‘s first two CDs, “Big Bad Voodoo Daddy” and “Watchu’ Want for Christmas?” were critical successes, but their big break came when their songs “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby),” “I Wan’na Be Like You” and “Go Daddy-O” were featured in the soundtrack of the 1996 comedy-drama “Swingers.”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy also created a new song for the movie “The Wild,” and recorded a song for Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation Special.” Their album “How Big Can You Get?: The Music of Cab Calloway,” a collection of their renditions of Cab Calloway songs, came out in 2008 and solidly established the band’s sound.
The band’s musical heroes include the three “Louis” who stand as hugely important figures in the development of jazz, swing and jump blues that helped fuel the rock ’n’ roll revolution in the 1950s: Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Louis Jordan. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy devoted its recent album, “Louie, Louie, Louie,” to paying tribute to them.
These three Louis revolutionized American music and popular culture, and set the standard for what great entertainment and artistic expression could be. Morris says, “We really want people to know about these great men that have so deeply influenced us, and perhaps help spark a new creative interest in them and their music. It’s important to educate people — if artists don’t continue to spread the word, this music is going to go away and that’s something we can’t afford to have happen.”
After the success of its 2008 Cab Calloway tribute release, the band felt it was time to dig back into the vaults of music history to honor more of the masters who had inspired them. “Louie, Louie, Louie” reveals the evolution of swing, jazz and popular music through the songs and personalities of these three giants of American culture. With a blend of greatest hits and essential works, the listener is transported from the earliest days of New Orleans jazz and ragtime to the birth of R&B. The band has produced nine studio albums in all.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy fills the stage with its presence. With a horn section, percussion, keyboard, bass and guitar, the band is all energy, and appears to love every minute of their performance.
The Barre Opera House staff has done an exceptional job in booking Big Bad Voodoo Daddy to open its Celebration Series. Upcoming series concerts for 2019 include Jimmie Vaughan Oct. 4, Vienna Boys Choir Oct. 20, Ranky Tanky Nov. 1, and Sierra Hull & Noam Pikelny with Stuart Duncan Nov. 23. These are top talents, so stay tuned.