Voodoo Daddy bring dance party to Foxboro

A review of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at Showcase Live! on January 11, 2009

, Contributing Writer

To say the least, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s show on Sunday night at Showcase Live! was wicked fun. The seats were filled, the dance floor brimming and the energy electric. At the end of a wintery weekend that may have kept some close to home, the swing fans were out in full force ready to break out of their cabin fever.

From the instant the band entered the stage and played their first note all the way up until the end of their set, the place was filled with the the heroic efforts of the dancers in the audience fueled by the endless energy of the band. Cohesively catchy and toe-tappingly merry, the overall sound of BBVD is hard not to like.

“Oh my god,” commented bandleader Scotty Morris, “Look at the size of the dance floor. We are in heaven tonight!” The dance floor was completely void of tables to make room for dancing, and the swing dancers had no trouble filling up the space. One booth was devoted to all the snow gear, namely the boots and coats concertgoers stripped out of in order to lindy hop, jitterbug and jive. Prepared to go from snow to swing in a flash, these New England dancers were so good that, at times, they intimidated some of the novices from heading down to the floor. Although dancing guides weren’t handed out at the venue, one thing was certain: If you weren’t smiling, then you were doing it wrong.

The dancing really heated up when the band played “Mr. Pinstripe Suit”. The thumping drums and poppy horns set the floor ablaze as a dancer flipped his partner over his shoulder. The whine of the trumpet traded off with Morris’s suave singing as the rest of the instruments built up the growing intensity that gives this number its thrilling edge.

It’s amazing there was enough room on the stage to hold all the character these nine musicians bring to the table. From Morris’s clapping and exuberant “Yeahs” to standup-bassist Dirk Shumaker’s smirks and bass spins, these guys know how to entertain.

“Here’s an old friend,” Morris said before the band played one of their most well-known songs, “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight”. They played this one, the same song they performed in the movie Swingers, with just as much enthusiasm as they had in the film. Like a great bandleader, Morris was snappin’ and clappin’ all night long

He mentioned that the band will be turning 16 in February with all of the original members still intact. It was obvious on songs like “Jumpin’ Jack” that they had been playing together for quite some time. Their unity is spot-on, even on these super-quick numbers.& Alto saxophonist Karl Hunter nailed his solo during this one, like he did all of his solos throughout the night.

The band played some songs off of their upcoming album, a tribute to Cab Calloway slated to come out in April. “Buy one copy, give it to everybody,” Morris joked. One of those songs was “Reefer Man”, which radiated with the full sound of big band swing. It gave the talented Shumaker a chance to show off some of his spicy bass skills. Other Calloway tunes included the “Calloway Boogie” and “(Hep! Hep!) The Jumpin’ Jive” which featured the “vocal stylings of the horn section” as Morris put it.

Morris was anxious to play one of the Calloway tunes for the crowd.& “We haven’t played this in front of dancers. I’m a little curious to see how it goes,” he said before they played “Tarzan of Harlem”. The dancers worked it out on the floor, and Morris colored this tune up with a scat run at the end.

Of course jazz fans (particularly Calloway fans) would have been heart-broken had the band not played “Minnie the Moocher”, complete with its lovable echo “Hi De Hi De Hi De Hi,” and muted trumpet. The audience was eager to sing along to this one.

The catchy, “You Know You Wrong”, from BBVD’s ’03 album Save My Soul required fast singing that seemed to be no challenge for Morris, who breezed through it with his coy charm. They also played “Mr. Heatmiser”, giving Shumaker a chance to show off his deeper vocal stylings and creepy laugh as the Snow Miser. They played a couple more of their fan faves, including “Go Daddy-O” and “I Wanna Be Like You.”

Before coming out to meet and greet with the audience, the band ended their show with several of the band members singing verses to their signature closer, “So Long-Farewell-Goodbye”. It’s hard not to like an act that wishes such warm sentiments to its fans: “So long farewell, Baby, bye-bye, and now we’re leaving with tears in our eyes. We’ll be back soon so don’t you cry. So long farewell bye-bye.”

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