By Jenna Lazenby
Ventura, California swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brings its “Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Party” to the Harvester Performance Center next Tuesday, Dec. 13. Together for nearly 23 years, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has toured virtually nonstop, playing in more than 3,000 venues across the world. This is the first time the nine-piece group will visit Southwest Virginia.
“We are really excited about playing at the Harvester,” said drummer and BBVD co-founder Kurt Sodergren in a phone interview yesterday. “We always like coming to new places, and we’ve never played there before. Most of the other places on the tour are places we’ve played. So, we’re really looking forward to it.”
Performing the holiday tour has become a tradition for BBVD that they started a little over a dozen years ago. The importance of the holidays to the swing band is reflected in the sizable catalog of recorded music that they have produced. The group’s ten albums include a 1997 Christmas EP, followed by full Christmas albums in 2004 and 2013.
“We’re such a big fan of that time of year,” said Sodergreen. “We all have families and Christmas has always been a special time for us. We want to get out there and help spread some holiday cheer. We see so many people who come out for each Christmas tour. That say it has become part of the thing they do like watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ or the ‘Peanut’s Christmas,’ or listening to Vince Guaraldi at Christmas time. We’re coming to your town, that’s just another tradition to add. I think it just makes people happy. I know that’s why we do it.”
While celebrating the music of the upcoming holiday season will be a big part of the show, Sodergren assured that fans will also hear some of their big hits, as well as new songs from their upcoming album, “Louie, Louie, Louie,” a tribute record to three of the bands’ greatest influences: Louie Armstrong, Louie Prima and Louie Jordan.
The show on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the Harvester is also a benefit for local children and the Carilion Children’s Hospital. Show-goers are asked to bring an unused, unwrapped toys to the show, and bring a smile to a child in need.
The members of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will stay around for a meet and greet with the fans. So, after the show, make sure to include time to stop by and say hello.
Prior to the show, brush up on your Big Bad Voodoo Daddy history:
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, a name derived from an autograph from blues legend Albert Collins, first formed as a blues band in 1989 by singer Scotty Morris and Kurt Sodergren, after the two met playing in the California punk scene. A little over a year later, the duo decided to add more members and switch to a contemporary swing revival band.
“That was a time when Nirvana was the biggest band in the land,” said Sodergren. “So, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. But I was definitely down. We were just playing music for fun, and part of the whole punk rock ethic is if you want to do something, just do it. It didn’t come without its construction. I took a lot of lessons and listened to a lot of music beforehand, so I felt like I was ready. It was a lot of fun.”
The group’s first record was self-recorded, one that they sold out of the back of their van after shows. The first big break came in 1996 with a feature in the movie “Swingers.” That earned them a deal with capitol records and three years later, they were playing the Super Bowl halftime show with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Gloria Estefan.
The nine-man group is comprised of Scotty Morris on lead vocals and guitar; Kurt Sodergren on percussion; Dirk Shumaker on double bass and vocals; Andy Rowley on baritone saxophone and vocals; Glen “The Kid” Marhevka on trumpet; Karl Hunter on saxophone and clarinet; Joshua Levy on piano and arranger; Anthony Bonsera, Jr. on lead trumpet; and Alex Henderson on trombone.
Tickets for this show are available on the Harvester’s website.