r It was the early 1990s and grunge music was all the rage, but for a group of Southern California musicians dedicated to the belief that swing was absolutely cool, it was a time to revive the jazz-based sounds of the ‘40s and ‘50s.
The fedora-wearing musicians called themselves Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, a nod to blues guitar legend Albert Collins, who signed Voodoo leader Scotty Morris’s poster of him with “To Scotty, the big bad voodoo daddy.” Morris, thinking that was “the coolest name I ever heard on one of the coolest musical nights I ever had,” adopted the name when the singer created his own band.
He and co-founder Kurt Sodergren found immediate success, first in California and later nationwide when they appeared in the halftime show of the XXXIII Super bowl.
As part of an exceptionally busy touring schedule of about 150 concerts a year, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will bring its retro swinging style to the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre when it performs a Labor Day concert Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. which will end the venue’s 2016 summer season. This will a return engagement for the group, and SCERA decided to bring them back based on the wildly positive reception they received the first time around.
So what can audiences expect? According to Adam J. Robertson, SCERA’s President & CEO, the audiences will hear “a high-spirited, electrifying evening highlighting a fusion of distinct Americana. Think jazz, swing and Dixieland in a contemporary context.”
Part of the Voodoo appeal is its ability to span generations of fans with its horn-infused music that evokes a more wholesome and optimistic time, combined with their signature 40’s style pinstripe suits. The band typically plays to sell-out crowds, including the Hollywood Bowl and Lincoln Center.
Earlier this month BBVD played at the Missouri Theatre, where a concert reviewer called them “one of those rare bands you have to see to appreciate and one of those even rarer bands that sound better in person than on a polished recording.” Their kind of sound hasn’t resonated since the era of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, and Voodoo Daddy was singled out in Missouri for its “fervor, precision and perfection.” Look for stellar and acrobatic sounds especially from the tenor sax, bass and trumpets.
After playing extensively in their own state, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy musicians first tasted broad success when they appeared in the 1996 indie film, “Swingers,” which then led to music in multiple films and television shows, bookings on late night shows (including seven on “The Tonight Show”), Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations in New York City and performances with renowned symphony orchestras. A new group of fans emerged after their appearance on ABC’s “Dancing with The Stars.” Additionally, Voodoo has played for three U.S. Presidents, and along the way, produced 10 records, had millions of record sales and played for more than 2,700 live shows.
Featured onstage besides Morris on lead vocals and guitar and Sodergren on drums, are Glen “The Kid” Marhevka, Karl Hunter, Joshua Levy, Anthony Bonsera Jr. and Alex Henderson. Instruments will include saxophone, trumpet, clarinet piano and trombone.
General admission tickets to the concert at $20 for adults and $15 for children (age 3-11) and seniors (age 65 and older). Reserved seats range from $25 to $35 for adults and $20 to $30 for children and seniors. Tickets are available at www.scera.org, by calling 801-225-ARTS, in person at the SCERA Center for the Arts, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., or at the Shell gate prior to the concert.