Center Presents: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party
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The Palladium // Wednesday, December 13, 7:30 p.m. ET
For three decades, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s unique take on American swing and jazz music has thrilled audiences around the world, while their unique and spirited “Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Party” has become an eagerly anticipated annual family event. Drawing on a rich catalog of holiday classics and Christmas originals from the band’s two full-length holiday albums, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brings its world-renowned live show—and fun and quirky take on the holidays—to you.
April 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s remarkable arrival onto the music scene. Since its formation in the early nineties in Ventura, California, the band has toured virtually nonstop, performing on average over 150 shows a year. They have produced a sizable catalog of recorded music, with sales of over 2 million albums to date. The band, co-founded by singer Scotty Morris and drummer Kurt Sodergren, was at the forefront of the swing revival of that time, blending a vibrant fusion of the classic American sounds of jazz, swing, and Dixieland with the energy and spirit of contemporary culture.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s all-original core line-up includes Scotty Morris (lead vocals and guitar), Kurt Sodergren (drums), Dirk Shumaker (double bass and vocals), Andy Rowley (baritone saxophone and vocals), Glen “The Kid” Marhevka (trumpet), Karl Hunter (saxophones and clarinet) and Joshua Levy (piano and arranger).
Don’t miss this holiday party! Get your tickets at thecenterpresents.org.
Janelle Morrison: Who were some of your influences back in the early years?
Kurt Sodergren: My dad had a great record collection that included [Led] Zeppelin, [Jimi] Hendrix, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Benny Goodman. I heard Benny Goodman[‘s] “Live at Carnegie Hall”  and heard Gene Krupa on the drums and was blown away.
JM: I read that your grandfather performed in a big band at one point in his life. What did he think of you performing punk rock?
KS: My grandpa had played in a big band. I wish I could have seen him play, but I’ve got a lot of pictures and a little bit of audio evidence that is really cool. He was very supportive of me, though my musical foray was punk rock. I remember him sitting in my bedroom when I was bashing away on the drums, and he’d have a little grin on his face. I don’t know how much sense what I was doing made to him—it [punk rock] was a different thing altogether. And the beauty of punk rock is you didn’t have to be in a conservatory because you had a garage. It wasn’t just for people who had a lot of musical education.
Later on, my Grandma Virginia was able to come and see my band play quite a few times before she passed away, which was really cool. Whenever we visited anywhere near Chicago and played, we [the band] would take my grandma out to her favorite restaurant, and everyone would fawn all over her.
JM: How did you go from playing punk rock to swing?
KS: When I met Scott [Morris], we started out playing blues. And then all of a sudden, he said, “I want to play swing.” I was like, “Okay,” and I started taking private lessons.
JM: There was a huge swing revival in the ‘90s amid the grunge and hip-hop explosion. I recall attending a swing-themed wedding reception in ’99. A lot of dance studios were teaching swing dancing in that decade. So, as a performer, when do you think swing became cool again?
KS: When [swing] first came out, it was really cool. It brought a lot of people together, which is really cool, and speaking for Scott now, because it was his idea, he had a lot of musical background and played trumpet in high school. He was really into jazz, and he knows a lot about music. We were writing original songs that we heard in our ears. We might not have had the [formal] training, but we knew what we wanted it to sound like—and we wanted it loud and exciting!
We decided to do only swing, and people were really digging it, though they were kind of confused when we would walk in with vintage suits on instead of T-shirts, ripped jeans and flannels. But it was really our love letter to the music we were so fond of.
JM: Thirty years later, you guys are still touring, and some people don’t realize how intensive and exhausting touring is. How has it evolved for you as far as touring is concerned, and why is it still worth it for all of you to continue doing it?
KS: This music requires a lot of physicality to play, especially the way we do it. So, we have to be cognizant of that and take good care of ourselves, which is one of the reasons why we’ve been around for 30 years. I do yoga and surf, and sometimes my body betrays me, then I go and see my massage therapist once or twice a month as soon as I get off the road. You have to make adjustments, and Scott doesn’t jump off my riser anymore, and Karl doesn’t climb to the top of the PA stack and do a solo, but we do other things. There’s a handful of bands that can make a living playing music and even fewer that have the same original members for over 30 years. What a lightning strike it was when we all met! We know how amazing that is that it could happen, and that we continue to make it happen!
JM: We spoke about how vinyl records are making a comeback and how our young adult children are frequenting record stores. What are you guys bringing along with you throughout this tour that fans and readers should know about?
KS: This Christmas tour, we’re going to have our Christmas album released on vinyl [for the first time, and it will be for sale at the venues], which is brand new!
JM: I already know it’s going to be a great party when you come out to perform at the Palladium! What can your fans expect to experience that evening?
KS: This is going to be a great party! There will be our renditions of a lot of classic Christmas material, and there will also be some original Christmas songs as well. There will be some throwback songs from when you and I were younger and watched those Claymation [Christmas] specials. We’ll put our spin on them, just like we’re doing with swing music. It’s going to be special, and I hope people will come out and give it a shot because [the show] is pretty fun, exciting and not something you get to see every day.