Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Contemporary Swing Jazz
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is a contemporary swing revival band from southern California who rose to fame in the swing revival of 1997-98.
Their notable singles include “Go Daddy-O,” “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby),” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit.”
In 1989, Scotty Morris formed the band in Ventura, California, naming the band after meeting legendary blues guitarist Albert Collins.
“He signed my poster ‘To Scotty, the big bad voodoo daddy’,” Morris explained. “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.”
The band formed in 1989, but rose to international acclaim after appearing in the Vince Vaughan/ Jon Favreau comedy “Swingers”. They went on to play the 1999 Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Over the last few years, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has played numerous Pops programs of American symphony orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Atlanta Symphony.
Most recently, the band recorded a song for Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation Special” and performed on the hit television show “Dancing with the Stars,” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” to promote their album “How Big Can You Get?,” a 2009 salute to Cab Calloway.
Sound Observations With Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
By David Moye
Almost everyone associates Big Bad Voodoo Daddy with the swing revival of the late 1990s. But while the septet is obviously influenced by the jump blues and jitterbugging of the thirties and forties, you might miss the other important influence: punk rock.
It may not heard in the charts, but Johnny Rotten was just as crucial an influence to the band’s music as, say, Cab Calloway.
That’s according to trumpet player Glen “The Kid” Marhevka, who’s been with the band since 1995, about two years after it formed.
“Originally, the drummer and the guitarist (leader Scotty Morris) came from punk and they didn’t know jazz at all,” Marhevka said. “But they loved it and said, ‘Hey, let’s do it with a punk rock attitude.”
It’s paid off pretty well. The band had its greatest profile during the late 1990s when its hit, “You and Me and
the Bottle Makes Three” made the band nationally known thanks to its appearance in the movie “Swingers.” Although the swing revival has died down, the band never stopped working, mainly because it’s approach to music managed to attract young and old alike as well as fans of aggressive punk and jazzy blues.
The band plays Anthology on April 29, but Marhevka, who came from a jazz background, admits it was a shock getting used to the punk rock approach to jump blues.
“I’m a jazz guy, but they influenced me on energy and style,” he said. “They taught me about putting on a great show. Before I joined, I was in a 17-piece orchestra where we would read our music onstage. But Big Bad Voodoo Daddy appeals to a younger generation.”
Yep, the band’s influence may not be reflected on the pop charts, but it is still felt in college and high school marching bands, where songs like “You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three” have become popular tunes at sporting events.
“We’re very popular there,” Marhevka said. “We’ve done several marching band shows where the bands march around while we play on a big stage. What happened was, the generation below us, the kids in junior high heard our stuff and asked the music teachers if they could play our music. It’s been a fun thing.”
Morris, the leader of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, isn’t surprised his band has been working non-stop even after the swing revival died right before the second Bush presidency.
Back in 2003, he told me that while he never expected the notoriety that would come from movies like “Swingers,” when success did blow its horn, he predicted the eventual backlash and warned bandmates not to let success go to their heads.
“I told them there would be big years and bigger years, but we would never stop working,” he said.
That prediction has turned out to be true, according to Marhevka.
“We are on the road non-stop,” he said. “We’re doing it because we love what we do and we love each other, so when we get onstage, we just go for it.”