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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy swings in NPAC

For the Press • Nov 16, 2013 at 3:33 PM

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s remarkable arrival onto the music scene. In its first years, having secured their legendary residency at the Derby nightclub in Los Angeles, they reminded the world — in the middle of the grunge era, no less — that it was still cool to swing, big band style.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will perform at Niswonger Performing Arts Center in historic downtown Greeneville tonight at 7:30.

By now the world knows the essential story of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The band, cofounded by lead vocalist and guitarist Scotty Morris and drummer Kurt Sodergren, made their debut in their hometown of Ventura, Calif., in April 1993 helping to usher in the swing revival founded on a colorful fusion of classic American sounds including jazz, swing and dixieland mixed with the energy and spirit of contemporary culture.

They proved to be among the standout groups that launched the new swing era in the ’90s. The group, whose core lineup has been in place since 1995, includes Morris, Sodergren, 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). Joining them on the road are Anthony Bonsera Jr. (lead trumpet) and Alex Henderson (trombone).

Their music has appeared in countless films, television shows and trailers including “Swingers,” “The Wild,” “Despicable Me,” “Family Guy,” “Phineas and Ferb,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” and “Ally McBeal” as well as multiple uses of songs for dance routines on “Dancing With The Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Today the high-energy nine-piece ensemble continues the party and takes things to the next level with the release of “Rattle Them Bones.” The follow-up to the much lauded 2009 release, “How Big Can You Get?: The Music of Cab Calloway,” “Rattle Them Bones” still urges their millions of fans worldwide to shake and move to their inimitable grooves while also expanding their horizons with new musical inspiration and influence.

The intensity of the Calloway project helped the band further hone its ability to honor the great musicians and music of the past while pushing the genre forward through interpretation and vision. Morris has called that experience “the greatest musical education possible, and one that again solidified the brotherhood of the band.”

While by design the musical focus of that session was Calloway’s heyday of the ’30s and ’40s, “Rattle Them Bones” is a more expansive, ultimately liberating work that began with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s singer and chief songwriter drawing from some unexpected cultural wells.

“After all these years,” Morris said, “I still enjoy writing in a vintage style. I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself as a writer, so for this record I wanted to do something I had never done before, and that was to write a duet.”

Tickets are $35 for orchestra and mezzanine level seating and $25 for balcony seats. Tickets may be purchased online at www.npacgreeneville.com, in person at the NPAC box office or by calling 638-1679.

NPAC offers online seat selection and no-fee ticketing. The box office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The 1,130- seat performing arts center is located adjacent to the campus of Greeneville High School. For venue information, visit www.npacgreeneville.com.

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