In their suits and hats, with horns in tow, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy delivered some holiday cheer to the Highline Ballroom on Sunday night. Energizing the crowd with their infectious enthusiasm from the get-go, the beloved swing band opened with the jumpin’ “Rockabilly Christmas” and kept the audience moving by wailing through a mix of their Holiday tunes, Calloway tributes and hit numbers from their Swingers days.
Though this was the last stop on their holiday tour, bandleader Scotty Morris opened the show as if his trip had just begun; his singing was fresh, his commentary funny and his showmanship entertaining. Morris regaled the crowd with a story about what his childhood education via Betty Boop had taught him: “One, the music of Cab Calloway and, two, that I was a boy.”
From the group’s latest album, How Big Can You Get?, a tribute to Calloway, the standout tune for the evening, “The Jumpin’ Jive,” featured a screaming sax solo and the back-up vocal stylings of the horn section (mainly with a repeated “hep-hep” to follow-up the lovable lyrics sung by Morris, like, “The jim, jam, jump on the jumpin’ jive makes you like your eggs on the Jersey side.” Another obvious favorite of the house was Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher.”
Two of the holiday covers featured standup bass player Dirk Shumaker’s singing: “Is Zat You Santa Claus?” and “Mr. Heatmiser.” Shumaker sings with a deeper voice, and could be a frontman in his own right. His facial expressions are quirky-bizarre, hilariously over-dramatic and fun.
Like any good hosts, the band ensured their guests had a good time, (maybe too good—one audience member saw fit to jump on the stage and sing in operatic fashion with them). The guys didn’t leave out their fan faves “You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)” and “Mr. Pinstripe Suit.” They closed with “So Long-Farewell-Goodbye,” and Glen “The Kid” Marhevka received a loud ovation, perhaps for his small singing part in the song, but more likely in gratitude for a show stock-full of his trumpet howls.
Still reviewing bands, huh?