By Megan Hardy
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 10, 1998

Kings of Swing


Tanith L. Balaban
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Singer-songwriter Scotty Morris croons to the swing kids who were at the Rilato Theater Saturday night while bassist Dirk Shumaker (in the background) grooves on.

The Rialto was bumpin' Saturday night with neo-swing guys decked out in pinstriped suits, fedora hats and wing-tipped shoes, and girls adorned in knee-length skirts, red-lipstick and saddle-shoes. All for the most happenin' swing band this side of Mississippi, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

The theater was like a movie scene from the '40s, honest to goodness neo-swingers spanning the generations. With the craze of swing music becoming all-the-rage for the '90s, the free swing lessons, the old-time venue atmosphere, and the traditional costumes, fans were swingin' the night away.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy recently tagged their sound on the Swingers soundtrack with three of their original tunes. These tunes helped to create the unforgettable lounge scene where Mikey and Lorraine cut the rug to "Go Daddy-O." Big Bad Voodoo Daddy gave new meaning to the classy drink, the gin and tonic, with another Swingers hit, "You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight."

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy sold out the Rialto Saturday, packing the dance floor full of excited swingers, and the plush red seats full of chillers. Tucson's Hipster Daddy-O and the Hand Grenades were the proud openers for the show, bringing their sound in to get the crowd warmed up for the hippest cats on the West Coast.

After the opener and a lengthy delay between acts, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy members stormed the stage with smiles on their faces, instruments in hand, and a lively sound that had the entire crowd instantly on its feet. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Scotty Morris tipped his hat to the audience and leaned over the crowd as his signature vocals boomed through the mic.

"Boogie Bumper," the first song on the group's new CD, acted as opener and crowd-pleaser for the show. Scotty and Glen "The Kid" Marhevka, the tiny trumpet player, shared a strobe-light-barraged stage in solo turns that had fans screaming for more. Nothing was more groovy than seeing the entire horn section march around the stage, single file, with Scotty in the lead. With all of this energy flowin' on just the first song, it's no wonder that by the third or fourth, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy had nearly half of the sold-out crowd trying to cram into the mediocre dance space at the front of the theater.

Tanith L. Balaban
Arizona Daily Wildcat

From left, Glen "The Kid" Marhevka, Karl Hunter, Andy "Lucious" Rowley and Jeff Harvis take a break from playing to belt out the chorus to the song "King of Swing."

Scotty's vocals were smooth, easy to sing along with, and the crowd did. The charisma of the horn section made the front row of swinger chics swoon and squeal. Dirk Shumaker, the bassist, strummed his stand-up strings and twirled the bass without ever breaking a sweat.

Some of the crowd's favorites of the evening were the Cab Calloway classic "Minnie the Moocher," (you know, "hi-dee-hi-dee-hi, hi-dee-hi-dee-ho,") and the stylish "Mr. Pinstripe Suit," which Scotty dedicated to the true pinstripe-suit-wearin'-neo-jivin'-swingers.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy left the stage with fans screaming, stomping their feet, and begging for more. For the encore, baritone sax player Andy "Luscious" Rowley grabbed the front mic to mesmerize the crowd with his chords of 'Velvet Smog,' (so dubbed by Scotty) on Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's "So Long-Farewell-Goodbye." The crowd swayed and the energy level came down, and turns and flips slowed to a minimum.

The music climbed back up, though, for the closing hit, "Go Daddy-O." Fans were a jumble of arms and legs, dips and moves. As the song ended, looking at the stage upside down, one realized that this show had single-handedly blown away anybody's list of favorite shows.

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