Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – Live at Verizon Amphitheater

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Two days after Death Cab for Cutie, it was back to Verizon, this time for a change of musical pace with my wife, son, and his best friend.  Despite the name of the band, this wasn’t for a another Indie rock concert, but rather the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and a swing/big band known as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  As the tickets were offered for free by a coworker, this was a no-lose departure from my usual concert outings, but not so far from my musical tastes, given a great appreciation for Sinatra.

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The ASO, conducted by Michael Krajewski, led off with seven songs to set a swing/big band mood.  While the slower pieces allowed the string section to play a role, the brassy “Sing, Sing, Sing” got people out of the cramped seats and into the aisles to dance.  Given the flavor of music, it was no surprise that trumpet solos would be featured, enjoyably played by Thomas Hooten.  The last song, “In the Mood,” was a familiar song from the Glenn Miller Orchestra that kept expectations high through the intermission. 

A short backstage interview with the conductor revealed a great sense of humor, somewhat of a surprise for people like me who might expect otherwise from limited exposure to PBS broadcasting of classical music. As the full time conductor of the Atlanta, Houston, and Jacksonville Symphonies, I would guess his work schedule is handled with humor as well.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy took the stage, backed by the ASO, and opened with a swinging swagger that held pace throughout the show.  Bandleader Scotty, in a wool suit and seemingly unaffected by the heat, quickly interacted with the audience, and the band joined suit with intricate and interwoven brassy charts.  Alto, tenor, trumpet, trombone, stand up bass, drums, piano…. you want it, they got it, and they hardly take a breath from song to song.  Solos were plentiful, expertly interwoven into high adrenalin songs.

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I hadn’t listened to BBVD before the concert, but the words were simple and rang clear.  A quick review their recorded product easily leads to the following titles:  “Jumpin’ Jack,” “You and Me & the Bottle Makes 3,” “Go Daddy-O,” “I Wanna Be Just Like You (Jungle Book Song),” and “So Long Farewell Goodbye.”

They featured a number of Cab Calloway songs, “Reefer Man,” “Hey Now Hey Now,” “The Old Man of the Mountain,” and a very popular “Minnie the Moocher.”  Otherwise, a crowd favorite was “Mr. Pinstripe Suit,” one of their first songs.  The band includes its original members from its founding 18 years ago, and there is a natural ease to their performance that brings adds a lot of fun (which otherwise might devolve into a skills competition).

Verizon provided good camera coverage for close-ups on the viewing screens, but between the overall distance from the crowd to the band and the limited space for movement, one has to wonder how much better BBVD would translate in a club atmosphere.  Kudos to Verizon for crystal clear audio for this show.

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