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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy to jam at Libbey Bowl Saturday, July 17

7 17 21 Big Bad Voodoo

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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performing Saturday, July 17, at Ojai's Libbey Bowl.

 

GETTING THERE

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will perform at Libbey Bowl, 205 E. Ojai Ave., Saturday, July 17, at 7 p.m.

COST: From $52 to don’t quit your day job.

CALL: 805-646-6417 

The greatest band in the 805 is bringing some heat to the coolest venue in the 805. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will pack the Libbey Bowl on Saturday, 17 July, and yes, they will dress better than you will.

Despite the fact that the band looks like they fell out of a '40s film noir, they're not that old – even though their threads may be – but they've been at this long enough to know better, and better yet, to know what they're doing.

Back in the '90s when the swing thing was in full swing, BBVD was right in the middle of all that, and by the time swing had swung, BBVD had moved on and expanded their horizons, led by frontman Scott Morris. They routinely packed Nicholby's in Ventura whenever they did a homegame gig, did the same with the Derby in Hell-A and appeared in the 1996 hit, `Swingers;' they providing the swing.

BBVD has played everywhere over the years, including a halftime gig at the '99 Super Bowl, and are still able to turn a police checkpoint into a dance party. The drummer, Kurt Sodergren, had the duty this week, and had this to say about all that during a recent phoner.

Kurt Sodergren: Hi, Bill Locey, it's Kurt Sodergren calling.

Bill Locey: Wassup, stranger?

KS: Not much...how are you?

 

BL: Well, you know...the usual. First of all, congratulations on not dying, so there's that.

KS: Yes. We can all take that to the bank.

BL: Exactly. So tell me what happened to you wonderful guys during the pandemic. Did you have time to write a million new songs?

KS: We took a hiatus and we actually have been working on new songs; but yeah, everyone kinda scattered to the wind, but we kept in touch through Zoom. We actually did go out on tour in December...in Florida...because it's the Wild West there. Our manager is a COVID-19 compliance officer, so we were all really safe and wore masks the whole time, and came back unscathed. It was pretty fun, actually.

BL: Isn't it true that a lot of people in Florida didn't wear masks?

KS: Well, you had to wear a mask at our shows, so there were a few complaints but not many.

BL: My favorite liberal TV talk show host – Randi Rhodes on Free Speech TV every weekday at noon – anyway, she actually lives in Florida. She calls it `Flora-duh.'

KS: (Laughs) That's good. That's good, but I like Florida and I don't want to deprecate some of the things they do but they've been very good to us, and it was fun to get out there and play some shows.

BL: What about you? How was your time off?

KS: I ended up giving surf lessons all summer which was pretty fun. Scott, right now is actually in Montana enjoying himself.

 

BL: Surf lessons? Was there any surf?

KS: Yeah, there was when I was giving the lessons. There was surf yesterday.

BL: Every day when I go to work, I check the surf from the 101 and it seems to be flat every day. Also, the city of Ventura has made it mostly impossible to check the surf just driving by on Harbor by the pier – that stupid fence is exactly the right height so you can't check the waves.

KS: Yeah, it's been a pretty slow season but yesterday was pretty good, and for surf lessons, flat surf is not a bad thing.

BL: Yeah, good point – you're absolutely right. So Scott went to Montana...on purpose?

KS: Yes, he did. He has some property up there now. He's living the good life.

 

BL: Yeah, my son and I went up there a few years back, camped out, checked out Glacier National Park.

KS: Yeah, we like it, too. We try to go every summer.

BL: But the winter, not so much?

KS: No, I've been there in the winter and it was fun, but a different kind of fun.

BL: So how many years of this – twentysomething?

KS: I'm gonna say 28 now.

BL: So, you think you might stick with it – give it another week or two and see how it works out?

 KS: Yeah, a couple of weeks maybe – we'll see how Ojai goes.

 

BL: For the longest time, the band has reached the stage where you can pick and choose your gigs, and thereby avoid three months in a sweaty, stinky van – how important has that been to you guys?

KS: You know, it's pretty good. We manage ourselves. We do have a booking agent, but it's a small agency and he only manages one other band; so yeah, it is kinda nice and it seems to be working for us. We were having a great year before the COVID hit – even though this year was rough  everyone is doing fine. A sabbatical was actually kind of nice in some respects but I know everyone is excited to get back together. So yeah, I do like the way we've been able to kind of guard our career instead of following the orders of some manager.

 

BL: Back in the day when the swing thing was happening, you guys were right there – it seemed like there was a swing dance or at least swing dance lessons every night of the week – but when all that finally swung and missed, it didn't seem to affect the band, and here you are. What's that all about?

KS: We branched out and started playing small jazz clubs, performing art centers and we started playing with symphonies, too, so we were able to branch out. It was lean for a little bit but not very long.I'm not going to say luck because we worked really hard to get where we are, and Scott's a pretty great bandleader and he thought this thing through. He's really smart and we keep it small – there's seven partners and we all make decisions together. We're definitely a hands-on band and with that being said, we're able to keep with it and keep playing.

BL: Early on, did you guys have an epiphany when you realized, `Hey, I think maybe we've got something here?'

KS: Yeah, it seems like that because this music is sort of timeless = I mean, almost everybody likes it. It doesn't matter if you like rap or metal or disco or grunge – whatever kind of music – this music is fresh and you come out there and you have a five piece horn section and it's just a special thing.

BL: You can't go wrong with a horn section like that – that's for sure. All you have to do is listen to `Turn On Your Lovelight' by Bobby `Blue' Bland, not to mention a bunch of your songs, and the mission for your feet becomes immediately clear.

KS: Yeah, for sure. We have a lot of originals but we also pick out a lot of really great covers. With the right songbook you can play almost anywhere.

BL: And you have, So what was your big break or have you had it yet?

KS: I think the vaccines are our big break this year, but `Swingers' was really great and our first record did really, really well – that helped catapult us and build up a fan base that we've been able to maintain.

 

BL: How many local venues have you guys played that aren't there anymore?

KS: Oh, there's so many – Bermuda Triangle, Nicholby's and Charlie's. I still keep in contact with Andy Wright – we walk our dogs on the beach.

BL: Charlie's! What a place. Watney's on tap.

KS: I know.

 

BL: I've never been so drunk so many times – countless new lows.

KS: Yeah, free drinks – I don't know if that was a blessing or a curse. Yeah, there were a lot of places and we actually had fun playing at the Ventura Theatre – we ended up doing our live CD and DVD there. Up in Ojai, the Libbey Bowl is a great place to play. I love it – it's outside. Ojai's the best. I love going there.

BL: What was your strangest gig?

KS: We played in front of this big pool in Mandalay Bay - it was called Wet & Wild and it was a bunch of Playboy Playmates walking around in the water with bathing suits on. It was weird – we didn't complain about it, but it was different, that's for sure.

 

BL: Do you guys have more suits than the Temptations?

KS: You know, we do have a lot of suits, actually, and some of them are older than the Temptations because we buy a lot of vintage gear. Yeah, and the smell lives on with a lot of that stuff. We really don't have a uniform – everybody brings a couple of suits. We try and maintain a certain standard but as far as matching suits, we haven't gone to that.

BL: How did you get to be the drummer?

KS: Well, Scott and I met back in 1988 and founded the trio with Russ and that was awesome.

BL: Russ Davis, right? Haven't seen that dude in ages.

KS: Yeah, I haven't seen him for a while, either; but I did see him about four years ago. He looked good, had a nice family and was doing well. And yeah, the trio was really great then Scott got the idea to do swing. We knew Andy (Rowley), who had a baritone sax – it was almost like if you had a football, you could play. So we found a couple of guys that had horns and just started doing it. We loved the music and maybe not all of us were classically trained but we learned as we went along and it became a really great career.

BL: What's next?

KS: Well, Scott has got a whole lot of new material, so the next thing will be releasing songs. We might do some EPs, then when we have enough songs, we can put them on a full length and maybe, sell them at shows. We're doing a lot of vinyl now and there's a lot of great record stores in town, so that's really cool.

BL: That's right. We have everything but the Top Hat.

KS: Yeah, I really miss that place, but you can still find some gems. I live on the (Ventura) Avenue and there's a place I like to hit called Taqueria Cuernavaca which is really rad. The tacos are great and it's not expensive. Anyway, we have a pretty full schedule, so we'll be busy the rest of the year. Things are really picking up and everyone is really excited. I think.

 

BL: That should be more than I need to know – thanks for talking to me. This will come out before the Ojai show.

KS: I'm really excited that I got to speak to you again, Bill

 

BL: Say `hey' to the boys in the band for me.

KS: I definitely will. I'll tell Andy that I talked to you today.

 
— Bill Locey has been covering the music scene in Ventura County since forever. He writes a regular column for the Ojai Valley News.
 

Upcoming performances:

If I had a faster car, a richer girl-friend or even one with a job, here’s where I’d be lurking in the back this week:

Roger McGuinn at Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks (July 17)

Ray Jaurique & Uptown Brothers at Cantara Cellars in Camarillo (July 17)

Kelly’s Lot at Ojai Underground (July 17)

Medicine Hat at Winchesters in Ven- tura (July 18)

Ball & Sultan at Cold Spring Tavern in Santa Barbara (July 18)

McWhorter, Bergho  & Jones at Copa Cubana in Ventura (July 20)

VOC in downtown Santa Paula 1-2:30 p.m. (July 17)

Heart and Soul Band in downtown Santa Paula 3-4:30 p.m. (July 17)

Hindsite in downtown Santa Paula 5-7 p.m. (July 17)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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