Todd Chance | By Todd Chance |
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on August 06, 2013 at 11:47 AM, updated August 06, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 (Gates open at 6 p.m.)
Where: Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park Amphitheater, 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE
Tickets: $43 at the door or online at

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — To be clear, none of the members of the band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy practice voodoo. But they didn’t choose their band’s name just because it sounded cool.

“Scotty (Morris, the band’s leader and founder) got an autograph from (electric blues guitarist) Albert Collins at one of his club shows and Collins signed it, ‘To Scotty, the big bad voodoo daddy’ and he thought the name was pretty cool,” said band member and trumpeter Glen “The Kid” Marhevka in a phone interview.

It’s not just the band’s name that is unlike most others in music, but its sound as well.

Swing music enjoyed a resurgence in the late ’90s with radio airplay for bands including Squirrel Nut Zippers, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Brian Setzer’s Orchestra and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

“We sort of had an underground scene and then it blew up around 1997 or so,” said Marhkeva before a Thursday, Aug. 15, concert at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE.

Marhkeva and the band love that Grand Rapids holds a Guinness World Record for swing dancing and they enjoyed a 2011 performance at the Gardens’ outdoor venue. But what they recall most fondly is our food.

“I love Grand Rapids,” said Marhkeva. “There’s a few restaurants I really dig there and the downtown is cool. We like to go to Founders Brewery and Marie Catrib’s. That’s one of my favorite places to eat.”

That lunch tab will be sizable as the band consists of nine members.

“When we tour there are nine band members on stage, seven of them are the original partners of the band that have been together for 20 years,” Marhkeva said.

“We’ve played on some of the smallest stages to those you could see from space,” Marhkeva said. “When you’ve been playing together for as long as we have, you’re pretty versatile.”

Marhkeva has been playing the trumpet since fifth grade.

“I was in marching band and I went to college and studied music,” he said. “It wasn’t really ‘cool’ to be in band when I was young. My other friends were doing cool stuff at the football game while I was in my marching band uniform.”

“Once I got older and started playing in clubs, I was the ‘cool guy’ and then once I got into Big Bad Voodoo Daddy it was like the coolest thing ever. It was interesting to see how that changed from playing in the marching band to all of the sudden being the thing that everyone wants to check out.”

Mahrkeva promised a 90-minute show at the Gardens, which will feature material from the band’s first album through its latest, 2012’s “Rattle Them Bones.”

RELATED: Follow Todd Chance on Twitter for you shot at two free tickets to the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert

“It’s a really fun show,” Marhkeva added. “Everyone’s all over the stage with high energy and everybody in the band is featured. We play solos and do some improvisation. It’s an uplifting show.”

Expect some Cab Calloway songs as well from a tribute album released in 2009.

“Right now we’re doing a song called ‘The Devil’s Dance’ from the new album. It’s in the New Orleans style of jazz. That one’s really fun to play,” he said.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brings a colorful fusion of classic American sounds including jazz, swing, and dixieland mixed with the energy and spirit of contemporary culture.

The group’s core lineup has been intact since 1995 and includes Scotty Morris (lead vocals and guitar), Kurt Sodergren (drums and percussion), Dirk Shumaker (double bass and vocals), Andy Rowley (baritone saxophone and vocals), Glen “The Kid” Marhevka (trumpet), Karl Hunter (saxophones and clarinet) and Joshua Levy (piano and arranger.) Joining them on the road are Anthony Bonsera Jr. (lead trumpet) and Alex Henderson (trombone.)

Special guest Andy Frasco is scheduled to open. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets, $43 public/$41 members, are available at Frederick Meijer Gardens or Star Tickets outlets, 800-585-3737 or All tickets are general admission lawn seats.

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