Spare Parts: A Funky Homecoming

Venues & Businesses
Hangar 9

Who: Spare Parts
What: jazz/funk
When: 2011-06-17
Spare Parts: A Funky Homecoming
T.J. Jones
Video Comentary

Funky jazz trio Spare Parts will return Friday, June 17 to perform at the Hangar 9. The instrumental band formed in Carbondale in 2000, where they rode a good wave of popularity, even maintaining a weekly gig at Booby's on Tuesday nights. It's been awhile since they've returned. Drummer Mike Bruno, keyboardist Kevin Kozol, and bassist Colin Scott now live in Chicago, where they perform a weekly gig at Alive One.

"We still take a lot of pride in being Salukis," Bruno says. "After living in Chicago for almost eight years now, people ask us where we're from, and we say we're a Carbondale band."

The instrumental funkmeisters have recently performed at the Summer Camp Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois, even playing on the same night, though on a different stage, as jam-rock behemoths Widespread Panic. At the end of July, the trio will perform at the Jammin' on the Wolf Festival in Langlade, Wisconsin. Bruno, however, says he and his bandmates look forward to their return to the Strip, which will be the first time Spare Parts will show their new laser light show in Carbondale.

"We miss the college vibe," says Bruno. "Carbondale had a really nice music scene when we were down there, and there were about five or six venues down here at the time. You might have had a limited choice, but there was always stuff going on, which was nice. Chicago has a thousand different places with music going on on a single night, and there are a lot of great bands up here, so it's made us step it up a lot just to stay afloat."

One of the best experiences Spare Parts has had in a decade-long existence is opening for George Clinton at the Congress Theater in Chicago. The trio got the gig from a rep seeing their weekly show at Alive One. Their opening performance was Spare Parts' largest, with an audience of 3,500.

"We couldn't believe when they offered the gig to us," Bruno admits. "We got to meet some of the band. George Clinton was off in his own little world. We saw some of them hanging out at the side of the stage watching us play. We ended up playing for forty-five minutes longer than we thought. [Clinton's] band was taking too long to get ready. We announced it would be our last song and somebody runs up to the stage and says to us, 'Play, like, four more!' After we finished, they said, 'Play two more!' We just kept on playing. It was a little intimidating. As happy as we were to be there, we knew it was the George Clinton show, but I think we won over quite a few fans that night."

Spare Parts' music is so lush and full that it's amazing to realize that the band is only a trio-- in fact, it's almost inappropriate for the band to be called "Spare Parts" in the first place. Even without a guitar, the sound that Bruno and company create is totally complete. Listeners might hear structured improvisations on a few tracks, but most are more composed-- or at least sound composed to create the impression that Spare Parts is not just jamming along. Bruno credits keyboardist Kozol.

"Kevin does a great job, because he's got to keep the weight of all the harmonies and melodies at the same time," Bruno says. "Over the years he just keeps getting better and better."

Last year Spare Parts released Trio, and they have also just gotten out of Chicago's Transient Studios with a soon-to-be-released new disc. "The older we get, the more enjoyable and productive our time in the studio is," Bruno says. "We're all just more comfortable with ourselves, so we can get more energetic takes and everything can be how we want it to be. It's so organic because we have the songs down so much from playing the weekly gig [at Alive One] and playing together for the last eleven years."

Find out more at <http://www.SparePartsMusic.com>.

who: Spare Parts

what: jazz/funk

where: Hangar 9

when: Friday, June 17

Southern Illinois Music Festival 2011: New Arts Jazztet: Hands-on American Music for Adults and Children

Southern Illinois Music Festival 2011: New Arts Jazztet: Hands-on American Music for Adults and Chi
Jeff Hale
Video Comentary

While the Southern Illinois Music Festival program is heavy on what most general listeners would consider classical music, jazz-- music that pianist Mel Goot calls "uniquely American"-- will also take a significant portion of the festival's schedule. Goot, along with his bandmates in the New Arts Jazztet, will play Wednesday, June 15 at StarView Vineyards and Wednesday, June 22 at Rustle Hill Winery. The Jazztet will also perform Jive for Jazz children's programs in Du Quoin, Carbondale, Sesser, Cairo, and Herrin.

The New Arts Jazztet, founded by trumpeter and SIU School of Music professor of trumpet and jazz studies Robert Allison, has long been regarded as Southern Illinois's foremost carrier of the jazz torch. According to Goot, the mission and focus of the New Arts Jazztet (consisting of Allison, Goot, Dick Kelley, Tim Pitchford, Phil Brown, and Ron Coulter) is to take jazz to audiences hungry for the sound of a music born and bred right here in our nation.

"The thing about jazz is, that most people don't realize, that it's uniquely American," Goot tells Nightlife. "It was born right here in America, because it's a melding of African rhythms and call-and-response of the indigenous peoples of Africa, put together with some European harmonies and other concepts. It's uniquely American, so we're always excited to take this out to the people. Jazz encompasses everything from down-home tradition right down to the latest space-age funks mixed with Latino. One of the common denominators is the improvisational quality-- things being created right there before your eyes. That's what makes jazz jazz."

While jazz may meld musical elements from many different nations, the development of jazz as an art form in this nation's melting pot is something that Goot is proud to claim as an American experience, and it's an experience that he's eager to share with music fans of every age. In addition to the free Southern Illinois Music Festival winery concerts the New Arts Jazztet will play, the group will also take jazz to audiences a bit too young for wine.

The Jive for Jazz programs, all free and held throughout Southern Illinois during the course of the festival, are designed to inspire children and parents of all ages to discover and become excited about the impact that music, particularly jazz, can have on every aspect of their lives, from academic pursuits to personal development. These concerts will also feature Mel Goot's sons Solomon and Jonah, who will join their father in an effort to teach other students about the power of music.

While the Jive for Jazz concerts are, on the surface, a way to get children excited about music, Goot admits to Nightlife that the real purpose of the Jive for Jazz series is for him more personal and heartfelt.

"We're on a mission," Goot says. "To me, this is a mission. In my opinion, in this day and age of computers and technology and iPods, if we don't add to our [musical] ranks and our audiences in the next decade or two, you might have to go to the Smithsonian to hear live, creative music."

The Jive for Jazz concerts will also give children a chance to try their hand at good, old-fashioned American jazz, as audience members can help keep rhythms by clapping and even joining in on some basic instrumentation. Goot says that the level of participation inspires, excites, and even surprises students and parents.

"Audiences like it when they see that there are young people involved in doing this," Goot says. "We have them doing things such as clapping out rhythms. We even have them playing instruments at some point. The cool thing is that people realize that music is science, social studies, and even math, all rolled into one. It's something that can enhance everything else their children do academically. I think people are surprised at the level of artistry."

Goot feels that such community participation is lacking in an age when children often go into their rooms and play on computers rather than gather with a family and take part in a family activity such as music. The Murphysboro high-school Spanish teacher adds that few people realize how great an impact that music can make on a child's education; thus, the many modern-day cuts to school-sponsored music and performance programs.

"At the turn of the last century, almost every household had a piano. Almost everyone learned how to read music in school," Goot says. "We taught it in schools like a language. It is a language, you know? It's a language that has just eight letters. Most people don't realize that when you teach a kid music, you're teaching them to read, you're teaching them to count, you're teaching them history, you're teaching them social studies. Music encompasses everything. That's why I'm so excited about this festival. We like to get these kids fired up. That's why it's nice to have young people like Solomon, who plays upright and electric bass, and Jonah, who plays guitar and violin. This will be the third or fourth year I've had my sons in the show, and that's great, because when kids see their peers doing this, it's different than if they see an adult doing it. If they see an adult doing it, a lot of times they think, 'Well, that's nice, but I could never do that.'"

Goot credits the Southern Illinois Music Festival for making these Jive for Jazz performances possible, but says that the entire festival is more than just about people coming out and hearing good music.

"I'm excited about the whole festival because we're taking the music out to the people, instead of having it in some hoity-toity music hall," Goot says. "Think of us like the Dr. Billy Taylor's Jazz Mobile. Doctor Taylor passed away a few months ago, but he was one of the first people to take jazz out to the schools. One of the things I like to do is make sure that I have performers with me who are young people as well. That's why we're doing this."

During the performances, students will be invited to try their hands at playing instruments. Goot hopes that once they try music, they will be bitten by the bug. And if they are?

"It's simple," Goot says. "If you like music, talk to your parents and talk to your teachers. See what you can do about learning how to play an instrument."

For the complete festival schedule, log on to <http://SIFest.com> or call the SIU School of Music at (618) 53-MUSIC. Tickets for events that require admission sell via the Marion Cultural and Civic Center box office at (618) 997-4030 or visit <http://www.MarionCCC.org>.

who: New Arts Jazztet

what: jazz

where: StarView Vineyards; Rustle Hill Winery

when: Wednesday, June 15; Wednesday, June 22

Southern Illinois Music Festival 2011: Three-dozen Concerts in Three Weeks

Southern Illinois Music Festival 2011: Three-dozen Concerts in Three Weeks
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

The seventh-annual Southern Illinois Music Festival will bring more than three-dozen performances to communities all over Southern Illinois, from Sesser to Cairo and Murphysboro to Marion, but most of it in or near SIU and Carbondale.

The festival runs from June 5 to June 25, and while this year's theme is Bach to the Classics, the fest will offer music by myriad composers in genres ranging from ballet and opera to classical and jazz, with performers ranging from SIU professors and visiting artists from all over the world to music-camp students.

Indeed, the Southern Illinois Music Festival has an international reach, according to organizer and Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra maestro Ed Benyas.

"Many of our orchestral performers originated and established their early careers in other countries," Benyas says. Festival musicians hail from Hungary, Argentina, Russia, Romania, South Korea. American musicians travel from as far away as Florida and Texas.

Festival highlights will include Adolphe Adam's ballet Giselle (Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11 at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center) and Pietro Mascagni's opera Cavalleria Rusticana (Thursday, June 23 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Herrin and Saturday, June 25 at Saint Andrew's Catholic Church in Murphysboro). Of course, performances of Bach's music take place throughout the fest, including all six of his Brandenburg Concerti. The Festival Orchestra will perform the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto Tuesday, June 14 at Carbondale Community High School (with Michael Barta, Amber Williamson, Martha Stiehl, and Edward Benyas), and the First Brandenburg Concerto Saturday, June 18 at Carbondale Community High School (which will also feature SIU alum Boja Kragulj on a Mozart concerto and Emily Fons on three arias).

Other composers featured during the festival include Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms.

Johann Sebastian Bach became the focus of the festival because of financial reasons, according to Benyas-- Bach is so established in the classical canon that his work requires fewer rehearsals, and often doesn't need such large ensembles.

"Last year we programmed music for large orchestral forces, like Bernstein's West Side Story symphonic dances and Gershwin's American in Paris, and it took us until December before we were able to pay all the personnel costs," Benyas says. "So we have scaled back a bit as far as personnel needs, but certainly there will be no drop in quality of our performances from past summers. And Bach is really universally loved; I know our audiences will enjoy the chance to hear all six Brandenburg Concerti in June."

The festival also includes an extensive chamber-music series of small-ensemble recitals, performances by the New Arts Jazztet, and more than a dozen Klassics for Kids and Jive with Jazz events for children.

The festival coincides with a summer music camp for high-school students, a forty-year tradition at Southern Illinois University, where members of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra will be in residence. Youth are a big part of the festival, on the stages as well as in the audience.

"My wife [Kara] and I started Klassics for Kids when our first daughter was two because we wanted to expose her and her peers to more live classical music," Benyas says. "We've found that in doing so we also exposed the young parents of these children, who themselves may not have had much exposure to these art forms. Of course, we are trying to establish an audience of the future as well. The ballet gives us the opportunity to utilize dozens of young local dancers in a fully staged production with professional dancers and live orchestra. Name another community of our size that offers that option. The music we present at the Southern Illinois Music Festival is designed to inspire, foster a broad range of emotions and to provoke deeper thoughts and feelings than what young people might typically download, so it should enhance the overall spectrum of listening experience."

The festival has for the first time received a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant called Arts Education in American Communities that will help support Klassics for Kids, as well as some of the chamber-music performances in places like Sesser and Cairo.

The Southern Illinois Music Festival tries to belie classical music and its audience's reputation for stuffiness by encouraging informal and casual attire. It's a goal the festival accomplishes through many routes.

"First off, we don't wear tuxedos, usually just white polo shirts, and for our children's programs, we wear [Southern Illinois Music Festival] T-shirts," Benyas says. "Then we always speak to our audiences during the concerts, no matter what the venue, except the opera and ballet. The musicians will explain bits about the music they are performing during our chamber concerts, and at Klassics for Kids and Jive with Jazz, and I do so on the orchestral programs. The opera has English translations projected above the stage, and the ballet will have a pre-concert lecture. Beyond that, the artists become part of our community for the three weeks of the Festival. They patronize our local businesses and stay with local host families. In fact, many host families request specific musicians to stay with them each year due to the relationships they develop, a fact of which I am quite proud. On top of that, [the festival] softball games on our Mondays off are a great festival tradition."

And one more way in which the festival tries to get closer to audiences-- most events are free or only carry nominal charges. Tickets with admission fees sell via the Marion Cultural and Civic Center box office at (618) 997-4030 or visit <http://www.MarionCCC.org>.

For the complete schedule, log on to <http://SIFest.com> or call the SIU School of Music at (618) 53-MUSIC.

who: Maestro Ed Benyas

what: Southern Illinois Music Festival

where: all over Southern Illinois

when: June 5 through June 25

MathGames: Calculating the Jazz/Funk Ratio with Cool Electronic Grooves

Venues & Businesses
Tres Hombres

More Articles
DJ Nasty Nate and the Residents of Electro City

Who: Fareed Haque's MathGames Trio / DJ Nasty Nate
What: jazz, funk, electronica
When: 2011-05-13
MathGames: Calculating the Jazz/Funk Ratio with Cool Electronic Grooves
Leah Williams Wright
Video Comentary

Some things are just meant to go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Jeans and a T-shirt.

And... jazz, funk, and electronica?

The MathGames Trio, who perform Friday, May 13 at Tres Hombres with DJ Nasty Nate, is the latest project from Fareed Haque, a recording artist and a professor of guitar and jazz at Northern Illinois University.

Haque has played with artists as diverse as Paquito D'Rivera, Dave Holland, Sting, and Robert Walker. He founded the Fareed Haque Group, the Flat Earth Ensemble, and Garaj Mahal, jam bands that played a fusion of jazz, Indian music, rock, and funk.

Haque has studied many different styles of music throughout his life. "Music was always a way for bringing the world together for me," he said.

MathGames, however, is an all-sensory experience that features an assortment of different lights, sights, sounds, and costumes. A MathGames performance is more like a show as band members play their songs to a fantastic lightshow. Sometimes, the band will even wear over-the-top costumes to complete the visual experience.

These days, Haque said, live performances must grab the short attention spans of audiences and not let go until the final notes are played.

"We know that we are living in an MTV world, so we try to have as visual an experience and [be] as trippy as possible," Haque said.

In MathGames, Haque plays a Guistar, which is a custom-built cross between an electric guitar and classical Indian sitar, and he also plays a Moog guitar.

The Moog's special magnetic pickups change the strings' motion and give the instrument an otherworldly sound. Haque explained that much of what he is able to do for MathGames is based on the special qualities of the Moog guitar, including its long sustain.

"It's so futuristic sounding," Haque said.

The unique qualities of the Moog guitar are matched well with the other instrumentation in MathGames. Alex Austin, the bass player, plays both acoustic and electric instruments. MathGames' drummer is Greg Fundis, and he also plays both acoustic and electronic instruments.

Haque said he does not find the pairing of jazz and electronic music odd. Just as country and rock 'n' roll contain blues roots, jazz is ever present in almost all modern music.

"Jazz is potentially one of those genres that can be almost anywhere," Haque said. "Dance music and jazz music go really well together. Garaj Mahal was able to mix jazz and jam with dance and funk music. That band was running its course. But electronic music is where we are headed."

Haque said that his favorite part about MathGames is being a part of a group that collectively gives one-hundred-ten percent at each live show.

"We are really into rehearsing and crafting our vision," Haque said. "Everyone gets equal say. We are really into achieving this exceptional performance that is completely cerebral. We want to be more fantastic each time. There is a great deal of complexity that goes in, but it is completely worth it."

For more information about MathGames, find them on Facebook.

who: Fareed Haque's MathGames Trio

what: jazz, funk, electronica

where: Tres Hombres

when: Friday, May 13 w/ DJ Nasty Nate

Slick Skillet Serenaders: A Raggedy Ragtime Revival

Venues & Businesses
Hangar 9

Who: Slick Skillet Serenaders / Mister Gunn / Pistol Packin' Mamas
What: ragtime / jazz
When: 2011-05-12
Slick Skillet Serenaders: A Raggedy Ragtime Revival
T.J. Jones
Video Comentary

The music of the Slick Skillet Serenaders comes from that long-ago era that for many people only lives on in the dusty and scratchy seventy-eight shellac discs one might find at a yardsale or in a grandparent's basement. The bluesy jug band from New Orleans, however, would beg to differ. Not only is their hometown of New Orleans teeming with like-minded ragtime virtuosos, but seeing the band perform live, or even seeing a video performance online, illustrates that while their music harks to the past, the Slick Skillet Serenaders (like local ragtime revivalists Hobo Knife) are a band to ring in a new era.

Jobydiah Hudson III, singer and washboard and kazoo player for the Serenaders, says that he and his band's love of pre-World War II blues and jazz led to the creation of the Slick Skillet Serenaders, which also includes singer and banjo player Joseph Faison, singer and guitarist Jason Lawrence, singer and upright bassist Corey MacGillivary, and harmonica player Ready Freddy.

In Hudson's words, the music of the past was more appealing. "It has more cultural resonance than modern music," Hudson says. "It's what we listen to, and we feel it's important to bring this style back for the new depression. We find the historic element of the genre."

Hudson said he and the band bemoan what he calls the post-World War II watering down of ragtime and the popular sixties folk revival, instead sticking to what the band loves best-- classic folk music where a washboard, banjo, and kazoo are as welcome to the table as a shot and a beer. Even if the music is made for the latter-day Tom Joads of the world, like most New Orleans bands, the Serenaders certainly can celebrate like the rest of 'em, too. Their bag of tricks includes classic rags like "Jerry the Junker," "Ragged but Right," and Louis Armstrong's "Bill Bailey."

Living in the Ninth Ward, the members of the Slick Skillet Serenaders can think of more than a half-dozen other like-minded bands who have helped reinvigorate the old ragtime sound-- including the Pistol Packin' Mamas, who'll share the band's Hangar 9 bill. "New Orleans is the type of place where you can still make a living playing old music, so naturally there is a supportive scene and a chance to really develop as an artist or group," Hudson says.

The Slick Skillet Serenaders will perform Thursday, May 12 at the Hangar 9. The band's first record, My Four Reasons, will be available for purchase; the band recorded it during a live performance in the Eighth Ward. Currently, Hudson says the Slick Skillet Serenaders have been taking more obscure songs from the jug-band and hot-jazz canon and reworking them to suit the band's fancy. The band's upcoming record, which will be recorded in the East Bay area of San Francisco this spring, will contain original songs.

Search for more about the Slick Skillet Serenaders on Facebook.

who: Slick Skillet Serenaders

what: ragtime / jazz

where: Hangar 9

when: Thursday May 12 w/ Mister Gunn / Pistol Packin' Mamas

Tone Road Ramblers: Taking Music Outside the Box

Who: Tone Road Ramblers
What: avant-garde jazz, world music
When: 2011-04-08
Tone Road Ramblers: Taking Music Outside the Box
Brian Wilson
Video Comentary

On Friday, April 8, experimental-music group the Tone Toad Ramblers will perform at Shryock Theater as part of the Outside the Box Music Festival. Since 1981, the group has explored the boundaries of traditional music. Incorporating a wide range of styles, including jazz, world, and microtonal music, their sound is often difficult to categorize.

"It's really more about an experience and not about a description," says Tone Road Ramblers member Eric Mandat, who is also a professor of clarinet and a distinguished scholar at SIU. "It kind of defies a description."

Like Harry Partch or Philip Glass, the Tone Road Ramblers have favored free creative experimentation over mass audience appeal. This has meant alienating certain music fans, especially those who seek nothing beyond the escapism of the top forty. But it has also introduced many listeners to thinking about very different musical possibilities.

"I think because the pre-performance descriptions are so inadequate," Mandat says, "it's difficult for people to have strong preconceived notions about what the music is. And it means that the experience has no basis in a personal history, necessarily, unless they're already conversant with free improvisation or microtonal music. So there are things that they can latch on to, but they're not the same things for each person."

Mandat joined the group in 1989, and says it was an easy process of adaptation because "right from the start we recognized that we shared a similar aesthetic view of music creation."

Much of this process of creation involves an active collaboration from all of the group's members. Each year they gather from across the country to catch up, share personal experiences, and exchange possible music ideas.

"There's not a guarantee that anything is gonna come out," Mandat says. "The getting together part of it is really more reconnecting and about sort of the music equivalent of what happens when a bunch of really good friends get together. They tell stories about what they've been up to, they reconnect, there are sub-groups, there's everybody laughing together, there's one-on-one time. So what happens is that the music that we explore during those times of getting together is really just a non-verbal analogy to our conversations."

Purchase tickets online at <http://SouthernTicketsOnline.com>, by phone at (618) 453-6000, or in person at Shryock Auditorium. For more information, including the complete schedule for the Outside the Box Music Festival, visit <http://music.siu.edu>.

who: Tone Road Ramblers

what: avant-garde jazz, world music

where: Shryock Auditorium

when: Friday, April 8

Marbin - Snufkin - Breaking the Cycle


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Marbin - Bar Stomp - Breaking the Cycle

Bar Stomp

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Band Members
Dani Rabin - guitar - Danny Markovitch - saxophone - Ian Stewart - bass - Justyn Lawrence - drums
Contact Info

Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Fat Tuesday Comes One Week Early in Carbondale!

Venues & Businesses
Tres Hombres

Who: Dirty Dozen Brass Band
What: N'Awlins funk
When: 2011-03-01
Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Fat Tuesday Comes One Week Early in Carbondale!
Leah Williams Wright
Video Comentary

words by Leah Williams Wright

pictures by Michael Weintrob

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band has been a major influence on many current New Orleans brass bands by revitalizing the common and continuously pushing the envelope. Now, the Dirty Dozen will bring a special performance Tuesday, March 1 to Tres Hombres-- one week before Fat Tuesday.

The Dirty Dozen began in 1977, when the Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club in New Orleans asked Benny Jones to put together a simple brass band for some live performances. That simple house band later grew out of its home base, got a few gigs at other venues, and added more instrumentation, including banjos and marching drums, to become a seven-member ensemble. They also shortened their name to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Jerry Brock, cofounder of New Orleans community-radio station WWOZ, was so blown away by the Dirty Dozen that he went on to record them and play the results on the radio. He also helped to book and promote them.

The band released their first proper album, My Feet Can't Fail Me Now, in 1984, and later followed up with Voodoo in 1987. They released more albums over the years, including 2007's Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino, where they played "Every Night About This Time" with Buddy Guy and Joss Stone.

The Dirty Dozen has also worked with formidable talents, including David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Doctor John, and the Black Crowes. The band even joined the Colorado State University Marching Band for a halftime performance of "Ain't Nothin' but a Party."

In August 2006, the band released What's Going On, a cover of the classic 1971 Marvin Gaye disc in its entirety. The concept album was developed after the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, and the release date coincided with the first anniversary of the life-changing storm.

The band celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of their debut album by reissuing and remastering the work. To go along with the reissue, the band went on tour and performed the album in its entirety, helping the Dirty Dozen dust off some early, forgotten tracks like "I Ate up the Apple Tree" and "Mary Mary."

Plans for another European tour are to begin later this spring, according to the band's website.

For more information, including downloadable songs and videos of past performances, visit <http://www.DirtyDozenBrass.com>.

who: Dirty Dozen Brass Band

what: N'Awlins funk

where: Tres Hombres

when: Tuesday, March 1

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Who: Southern Lights Entertainment
What: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (jump blues / swing)
When: 2010-10-29
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Brian Wilson
Video Comentary

On Friday, October 29, premiere east-coast swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will return to Carbondale for a live concert at Shryock Auditorium.

During the 1990s, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was at the forefront of the swing revival, along with bands like the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Their songs “You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight (Baby)” and “Go Daddy-O” were featured in the 1996 film Swingers, and became mainstays on mainstream radio throughout the remainder of the 1990s.

In addition to amassing seven full-length studio albums and a live album, the band performed at the 1999 Super Bowl halftime show and recorded the theme song for the popular television series Third Rock from the Sun.

Although less prominent within the mainstream music arena than they once were, the group continues to keep busy. They perform 150 to two-hundred concerts per year, and recently have collaborated with several American symphony orchestras for a series of pops programs.

Nightlife recently spoke with trumpeter Glen “The Kid” Marhevka about the band’s history and musical development.

For tickets, visit <http://SouthernTicketsOnline.com>, call (618) 453-6000, or stop by Shryock weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or one hour before performances. There are no service charges for in-person purchases, though phone and online purchases will carry charges ranging from $1 to $1.50.

For more information about the show, visit <http://SouthernLightsEntertainment.com>. For more about the band, log on to <http://www.www.bbvd.com>.

Back in the nineties, it seemed like the whole swing phenomenon kind of exploded out of nowhere. What was that experience like for you guys?

It was definitely amazing. I think for a lot of the country it came out of nowhere, but we'd been doing this for years on the West Coast already. We were playing for three years in clubs on the West Coast like five or six times a week. We were doing that since 1994. The movie Swingers came out about 1996 or so, and then I guess swing music hit mainstream on radio probably 1998, so we had been doing this for a while, since 1994, so it wasn't out of the blue for us.

We kind of saw where it was going, but didn't know that it would hit that sort of acclaim or get picked up by the mainstream. So when it did it was actually kind of overwhelming at the time. We had been kind of honing our craft and building up speed, but then it got a little bit crazy. I mean, it was like, everywhere we went it was the thing, and the next thing you know we're playing the Super Bowl halftime show with Stevie Wonder. It actually was kind of a little bit overwhelming. And then we did everything you can imagine, and it was cool. It was an amazing time.

But then before you know it, the trendsetters went on to the next thing, and that's totally cool. We just kept doing what we did, and doing what we were doing, and just never looked back.

I think one of the unique things about Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is that you guys pay tribute to a lot of older music while at the same time modernizing it. What got you guys started doing that?

Yeah, I mean, everybody we've assembled into this group has all been big fans of jazz music and swing music, and really all styles of music. But we all sort of had a similar bond that we really like this sort of style, and we wanted to present it in a different way. I play trumpet and I've been playing in seventeen-piece big bands since I was in the seventh grade, and I did that my whole life until I joined Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. I played in school bands and then I went to college and played music, and that was my thing... playing jazz music and playing in big bands. That's something you do normally when you're a serious trumpet or trombone or sax player, or a horn-section player, that's what you do when you're learning to play jazz. And that's a style for me that I loved, and it was a natural sort of thing to play jazz and swing music. I'd been doing that.

But the unique thing about what we were doing is, we started playing some original songs in that style, and it wasn't like your traditional big band where you sit down and read charts. I played in a million jazz bands where you just sit there and read these amazing charts musically, but it doesn't really have much of a show value to it, so people get kind of bored. And we sort of assembled this thing where not only was playing music important, and trying to say something musically, but actually putting on a show and entertaining people and making people have fun and make it look cool.

So that was the next step, you know, of bringing it to people, making people enjoy it and like it. Like our age, you know. I was in my early twenties when I started with the band, and all of a sudden it was cool to my peers when they come and see this band play, but they'd come to a jazz-band gig I was doing and just playing amazing music, and the musicianship level was super-high, but they'd get bored after twenty minutes because there was no show value. It was just playing instrumental music for the most part.

So we sort of presented it in a different way, in a cool way, and on the West Coast we started playing clubs, and we'd play rock clubs and all these different places, and nobody had any idea what we’re gonna be. They'd hear the name Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, then we'd roll in and we'd play this style of music, and then they'd go, "Aw, this is cool, man." Before you know it, a lot of the old punk crowd started going to thrift shops and getting old clothes and hanging out in these clubs, and we sort of built up this following.

You mention punk, and I always suspected that there was some relationship between punk and swing, just as there is between punk and rockabilly. Can you talk about that connection?

Yeah, definitely [it] was the same thing, the same crowd-- rockabilly and punk, the swing crowd, were all of the same thing in the early nineties. And then as it became popular and became commercially successful, all those people kind of backed off of it. That’s a natural punk-rock thing to do. The scene gets blown out, you’re on to the next thing. So by the time it hit where you guys were, they were done with it.

You guys have been playing music for two decades now. What’s kept the band motivated? What’s kept the energy there?

Well, I think everybody in the band has kind of grown as a musician and a person, and I think everybody's even more confident now than they were. Like when we were younger and we started playing clubs, they were full of tons of energy and it was maybe a little bit more raw-sounding at the time. I think everybody has really grown and tried to become better as a musician, and the band has gotten better. We’ve played thousands and thousands of concerts over the years, so I think we’ve evolved into what I think is a really great live band.

What can fans expect these days when they see you guys perform live? How has the live experience changed over the years?

Well, you know, I think it’s the same energy, to be honest with you. I think it’s really high-energy and it’s just a fun show. Everybody seems to walk out going, “Wow, that was really good,” and they’ve all got smiles on their faces. It’s just an uplifting, fun sort of thing. The only thing that’s really changed is that we’re not playing at ten the whole time volume-wise, in your face. There’s more contour to the show.

And not that it doesn’t have edge. It’s just more of a musical statement-- we have ebb and flow in the music a little more. And if you listen to our last couple of albums, I think there’s more musicality in it and it has a little more highs and lows, versus if you look at our first album, most of it’s right in your face the whole time. Which is great, and that’s where Big Bad Voodoo Daddy got its style. But I think the show now is musically more fun, and it takes you on a little bit more of a journey than it did before. But it still has that fun, uplifting style that people really dig.

who: Southern Lights Entertainment

what: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (jump blues / swing)

where: Shryock Auditorium

when: Friday, October 29

Sam West Trio - BraveMaster - Steady

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Sam West Trio - Steady - Steady


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Sam West Trio

Band Members
Sam West: bass, vocals - Andy Novara: guitar, vocals - Ron Coulter: percussion
Contact Info

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