Big Bad Voodoo Daddy breathes life into old hits

Photo Courtesy of Savoy Jazz

Last Friday, Nov. 1, Tech’s Ferst Center for the Arts hosted Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, a swing revival band that has been lighting up venues with their soulful tunes since the early 1990s.

2013 is a special year for the band, as this is their 20th anniversary. As a testament to this special occasion, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy gave a stellar performance for the Tech community. Each song that they played was good in its own right, but an observant audience member might have noticed that several of the songs sounded almost the same. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy made up for this apparent lack of musical diversity by spreading out the similar ones, giving the audience a rest by playing unique songs in between the monotonous ones.

While the band’s music was undoubtedly the main attraction of the night, the lead vocalist, Scotty Morris, added to the entertainment with his upbeat attitude and boundless energy. During each song, he was intent on his performance and sang or played accordingly. Whenever Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was not in the midst of a song, however, Morris would talk to the audience, giving anecdotes and interesting tidbits about the origins of some of their songs; perhaps his favorite thing to say was the name of each band member.

Between songs, Morris embarked on an unceasing round of introductions, occasionally introducing the same person three or four times in a row with only slightly different wording each run through. By the end of the performance, concert-goers had to have been determinedly not paying attention throughout the entire performance to not know at least one band member by name. The only Big Bad Voodoo Daddy member who Morris failed to introduce more than once was Morris himself, whose name had to be looked up for the purpose of writing this article.

However, Morris’s energetic babbling was not directed at the audience, to whom he spoke rather coherently. Aside from introducing the others on stage, most of what Morris hastily declared between songs was relevant and interesting.

For example, while the band was preparing to sing “Mambo Swing,” Morris, after introducing someone of course, picked up a cowbell. A rather excited audience member shouted “More cowbell!” in allusion to the viral Saturday Night Live skit, and Morris, hearing him, replied “Yes, my friend, always more cowbell.” Then, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy took off into the lively “Mambo Swing,” followed closely by more introductions, naturally.

The friendly speeches of the lead vocalist improved the concert but did not account for all of the entertainment last Friday. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performed extraordinarily well. Unlike many bands, their live performance was on par with their albums, of which nine have been released since 1994. Arguably, this band sounds even better in person, which is rare, indeed.

Throughout the night, the group performed many songs, including their most well-known and popular “Go Daddy-O,” “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit.”

Each of these hits were performed with gusto, but the real entertainment came in an unexpected sense when the band played their lesser known works, some of these may have been completely unfamiliar to several members of the Ferst Center audience. These songs included the unusual “Zig Zaggity Woop Woop,” which, contrary to common belief, does not actually constitute an English phrase.

A band performing their greatest hit is expected to be a grand exhibition, but Big Bad Voodoo Daddy managed to make a spectacle out of all of their songs. Whether it was an internationally famous tune, or one that only the group’s most devout fans have heard before, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy put care and skill into their performance, allowing audience members to immerse themselves in the music.

Perhaps the most well-placed song of this concert was the one that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy ended with, a spirited rendition of “So Long-Farewell-Goodbye.” However, even though they said goodbye to the Ferst Center at the end of the night, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is by no means disappearing from the public eye. On Oct. 22, they released their newest album, It Feels Like Christmas Time.

Throughout the performance, Scotty Morris talked about this new album but continually promised the audience that the band would not play Christmas music as early as the first of November. It was moments like these that made the concert not only a musical spectacle to behold, but also a simply entertaining and worth-while experience.

For anyone who particularly liked Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, however, Morris made certain that they knew that this album is now for sale.