Big Bad Voodoo Daddy sounds similar to a big band from the swing era but brings a rock 'n' roll energy on stage.

Friday, November 2, 2012

By Isadora Rangel
Published Friday, November 2, 2012

And if you have not heard of it yet, former President Bill Clinton has. He played its music aboard Air Force One.

The band, which plays Nov. 7 at The Lyric Theatre in Stuart, has performed on TV shows and at the Super Bowl, as well as fundraisers and black-tie events for three of the last four presidents. Clinton was the most enthusiastic presidential fan, going on stage with the nine-piece assemble and talking to its members about his collection of vintage ties and saxophones, an instrument he also plays.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy formed in California during the swing revival of the 1990s. Almost 20 years later, the band tours more than 150 dates a year — usually dressed in 1940s suits and hats — and recently performed on the TV show "Dancing with the Stars."

Despite the tribute to big bands, audiences should not expect a traditional jazz group in which its members sit down and read charts.

"We approach swing with the influence of when we saw rock 'n' roll shows like James Brown," trumpet player Glen 'The Kid' Marhevka said. "We are all over the stage. We don't really sit down. It's kind of high energy."

Marhevka played trumpet in his high school jazz band and studied music in college before joining Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Seeing a concert by late jazz legend Cab Calloway at Disneyland when he was in the seventh-grade defined his career, Marhevka said.

"He was the coolest guy ever," he said. "I was completely blown away. I watched two concerts that night. I didn't even go on rides."

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy recorded a Calloway tribute in 2009. Its latest album, "Rattle Them Bones," has many original songs composed by band leader Scotty Morris as well some covers, such as the toe-tapping 1920s song "Diga Diga Doo."

The band is not the only one rescuing old rhythms in modern music. The White Stripes shows a big influence of blues music and Mumford and Sons has scored hits playing mainly British folk music. On TV, the show "Mad Men" has brought back imagery from the 1960s.

"It's really interesting to see that style and imagery coming back and people think it's cool," Marhevka said. "We have been doing that for years. It can only help us."