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Kings of that Swing-thing

by Timothy Tilghman

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy closed the 2006 annual Herndon Festival in Herndon, Virginia, on Sunday, June 4, 2006. None of the ominous weather advisories manifested themselves on the mild misty afternoon, granting the group and their fans a beautiful evening sunset as the perfect backdrop to enhance their engaging performance.

Featuring an intense wall of sound that harkens back to a bygone American era of the previous century, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is more than just a blast from the past. Rather than simply being a cover band that takes swing fans on a trip down memory lane with outdated material, BBVD's own original compositions move the listener to skip and groove on a new and exciting path of musical excitement.

Scotty Morris is lead vocalist and guitarist, Joshua Levy is pianist, Dirk Shumaker is upright bassist, and Kurt Sodergren is the drummer. The talented BBVD horn section includes Jeff Harvis on trombone, Karl Hunter on saxophones & clarinet, Glen Markeva on trumpet & vocals, and Andy Rowley on baritone sax & vocals.

After the introductory fanfare of a brief band instrumental, BBVD began their set with "Mr. Pinstripe", one of eight tunes performed off of their 1998 self-titled album. The piping horns, dancing piano and percussive bursts captured audience attention and kept them entertained into the early evening.

With the relaxing atmosphere of picnicking at a backyard party, "You Know You Wrong" revisited the musical stylings of New Orleans. The horn section switched off on individual solos before joining together to embellish a coordinated harmony chorus.

Horns announced the intro to "Jumpin' Jack", a rousing BBVD swing original. Spirited vocals by Morris and a tight band arrangement was highlighted by a percussion and trumpet solo before the horn section returned with an empowered horn assault for the coda.

The classic Cab Calloway signature song "Minnie The Moocher" is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. With its ad libbed call out harmony chorus, crowd participation was mandatory. "You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)" showcased the band's ability to both articulate subtle humor and motivate audience members to dance to cool original jive rhythms.

A swanky R&B groove slowed things down on the sultry "Don't You Feel My Leg". Morris quipped, "We're here for you", after a male coaxed the sax player to run through a quick take of "The Benny Hill Theme". Infusing a brief electric rhythm guitar solo at the start of "Mambo Swing", the Latin-flavored romp provided another workout for the overactive BBVD horn section.

Morris emceed band introductions as the group performed "Go Daddy-O" for their final number of the evening. The invitation to dance had become contagious by this point as the band obliged the desire for music with motion. The group's harmony vocals were spiked by a crescendo of horns for a voluminous climax.

BBVD returned to the outdoor Herndon stage for an eagerly anticipated encore with "Always Gonna Get You". The rumbling swing tempo was aided by walking bass runs. The Cajun carnival mood on "So Long-Farewell-Goodbye" generated a standing ovation as a few of the band members each took turns at lead vocals.

Morris interjected a guitar solo to segue into an unexpected brief cover of "Sweet Home Alabama". The big bad band shifted gears again to reprise "Goodbye" with scat lyrics and extend an acknowledgment as their musical salutation to the audience appreciation.

2006 RockonTour

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