LIVE: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 11/3/16
Review by Greg Haymes
Let’s swing, Daddio!
The swing revival isn’t quite as mainstream or as widespread as it was in the late ’90s, when Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was at their commercial peak. The band broke into the national spotlight with the soundtrack to the 1996 hit movie “Swingers.” Three years later they were playing the half-time show of the 1999 Super Bowl… and, of course, it just doesn’t get any bigger than that.
But make no mistake about it, guitarist-banjoist-vocalist-co-founder Scotty Morris and his merry band of West Coast hepcats are still swinging hard, as they proved in concert last week at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
Opening with “Diga Diga Doo,” featuring the first of the night’s many simply stellar trumpet solos from Glen “The Kid” Marhevka, they quickly slid into the zippy but not quite frantic instrumental, “The Jitters.” And then they were off, the nine-piece mini-big band wailing for an hour and a half, much to the delight of the crowd who appeared to be equally split between older fans of the original swing era and younger BBVD fans who jumped on the revival bandwagon.
The band members were, of course, decked out in the era-appropriate vintage threads, but this was no mere fashion show of snap-brim fedoras and double-breasted zoot suits with mile-wide lapels. The band knows how to play, and the five-piece horn section was tight-tight-tight on the
ensemble work and high-flying in their frequent spotlight solos (although trumpeter Anthony Bonsera, Jr. perhaps leaned a bit too heavily on those crowd-pleasing, ear-drum-bruising high notes).
They paid tribute to Louis Jordan (an easy glide through “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?”) and Louis Prima (an encore of his 1962 nugget “Oh Marie,” with Morris singing in English and Italian), there was no doubt that the band’s biggest influence was the late great Cab Calloway, and
they served up a three-song set of his tunes highlighted by the classic “Minnie the Moocher.”
They nailed the jumpin’ jive of “You, Me and the Bottle Make Three Tonight” (which was both wild and woozy) and gave equal time to another mood-altering approach with the earlier “Mr. Reefer,” but somewhat surprisingly the real highlight of their show was a two-song excursion down to
the Crescent City with the back-to-back pairing of the cowbell-fueled “Zig Zaggity Woop Woop” (featuring a knockout solo by drummer Kurt Sodergren) and the old New Orleans standard “Basin Street Blues,” led by pianist Joshua Levy.
Yeah, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy meets the Big Easy. That’s where it was at…
This review originally appeared in The Times Union.
BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY SET LIST
Diga Diga Doo
Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby? (Louis Jordan)
Mr. Pinstripe Suit
Hey No, Hey Now (Cab Calloway)
Reefer Man (Cab Calloway)
Minnie the Moocher (Cab Calloway)
Zig Zaggity Woop Woop
Basin Street Blues
You, Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight
I Wanna Be Like You (from “The Jungle Book”)
Oh Marie (Louis Prima)
So Long, Farewell, Goodbye