Voodoo Spell Cast On Camden

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at Camden's Jazz Cafe in London 12 July 2000.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy swung by London on their current European tour to delight a sell-out crowd at The Jazz Cafe. Through their touring and appearances in Swingers and last year's Superbowl half-time show, they are one of the best known of the contemporary swing bands in The States. Outside of aficionados, they are not so familiar here - but more gigs and the release of their new CD This Beautiful Life could change that.

The band have been together for around ten years, and have developed a Latin lilt as well as a swing sensibility. There's also plenty in the repertoire to satisfy the jump-jive fan. For tonight's set, there were many songs from the new CD, such as Big Time Operator and Some Things. Sadly, the sell-out situation meant that there was little room to dance, which was a really double whammy as some tunes went straight to your feet.

Big Bad do the voodoo that they do so well.

The nine-piece comprises of five horns (two sax, two trumpets and trombone) and a rhythm section of bass, drums, piano and Scotty Morris' guitar. As expected of the US musicians, the standard of playing is high, and so is the showmanship. There's no doubting the sheer energy that the band put into their performance, and singer Morris is a really good frontman.  There was never much chance of the sign on the centre column "STFU during performance thanx" being observed, as Morris drew the crowd more and more into the actual performance with a series of call-and-response.

BBVD played for around 90 minutes with no break, and included favourites such as Jumpin' Jack and their theme tune Go Daddy-O. The crowd were never going to let them get away Scot(ty)-free after that, and brought them back for a 15-minute encore. Morris started with a song that had been influential in his decision to play this kind of music, and led the band - and the crowd - into a raucous rendition of Minnie The Moocher.

It was a real shame that this was their only UK - much less London - show, and also that it was in such a small venue. Perhaps the result will convince an enterprising promoter to bring them back for an extended tour - and put them in some danceable venues.

For more information about the band, check out their web site at bbvd.com - but be warned: it's got lots of animation and flashy stuff, and takes a while to load.

2000 Andrew Winton.

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