Thursday night the Clay Center closed out their 2014 Spring Season with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, a swing band from the golden age of alternative music — the early 1990s.
It was a strong finish to what is probably the Clay Center’s most successful season, though the crowd didn’t quite come out in vast numbers; nothing like the sellout crowds for Gov’t Mule or Experience Hendrix.
The band didn’t seem to mind. The audience was spirited, willing to play along, and very much into the groove of big band and prohibition-era jazz inspired music.
For a 21-year-old band with all its original members (no easy feat), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy looked pretty good and sounded amazing.
The eight-piece outfit conjured up the ghosts of old-time gin joints, down the stairs speakeasies and hot Harlem night clubs where the air was filled with music and the dance floor never got cold.
Bandleader and lead singer Scotty Morris led the band through one song after another. With only a brief pause to announce a song or make some quick aside, they got through their entire show in about 90 minutes without any fuss.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played cuts from pretty much all of their records –- except maybe last year’s Christmas record. They did a lot of old Cab Calloway tunes, opening with “The Ghost of Smokey Joe,” but also playing “The Calloway Boogie” and “Reefer Man.”
They also played quite a bit from their latest, “Rattle Them Bones,” which sounded as good as the older stuff — also not an easy feat after 21 years.
While never much of a Top-40 radio act, by the end of the evening, the band had worked in some of the songs they were known for, including “You & Me & The Bottle Makes Three,” and “Go Daddy-O,” songs that appeared in the 1996 comedy “Swingers.”
They weren’t a particularly chatty band, though Morris mentioned getting lost on the way to D.C. and ending up in Charleston a year ago, due to a faulty GPS.
He said they knew it was Charleston by the gold dome at the capitol, which seemed like an odd thing for him to know, but sort of nice that he did.
Morris said they shrugged off the mistake, went to Pies and Pints, had some pizza and beer then drove like mad to get to Washington.
The crowd loved the shout out and if they were going to grab a slice of pizza somewhere, they could hardly have done better (I’m also a fan of the pulled pork nachos there).
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy put on a fine show, a good cap on a great season, which will be tough for the Clay Center to top this fall.
Details about the upcoming season will be coming in the next few weeks, said Rob Rosano, the Clay Center’s director of theater and sales.
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5195.