Westport crowd vibes on 'VooDoo' at the Levitt
Updated 4:11 pm, Monday, July 11, 2011
The vibe was hypnotic.
Bold and brassy, the music cast a spell on a warm summer night Sunday at the Levitt Pavilion. Groovin' and dancin' were the order of the occasion.
Some might have called it voodoo, because that's just what it was -- the Big Bad VooDoo Daddy band was showcased for a fundraising concert at Westport's open-air venue.
The event, proceeds from which help fund the season of 57 free shows at the Levitt, attracted more than 300 people. The evening featured a pre-concert VIP reception under a white tent near the front entry of the pavilion grounds.
Big Bad VooDoo Daddy fans on hand for the concert bubbled with excitement. "This is my third time seeing them," said Drew Gleeman of Fairfield. "The last time was last summer in Stamford. They put on a great live show and are always fun to see ... and this is an ideal setting."
A regular Levitt Pavilion patron, Westporter Michael Ferry said, "I have a couple Big Bad VooDoo Daddy CDs. I like the genre. The swing, jump, blues. It's going to get people moving," he predicted.
Westporter Bill Heery was particularly enthusiastic. "I first heard one of their live albums, about five years ago, and became a fan. "They're a bunch of young guys doing big band swing," he said. "Their sound is hard to explain. It gets you jumpin'. "
Mark Mantione, attending with his wife Anne Marie, said he had seen the band three or four times before. "They play a very unique type of funk jazz," he said. "They're inserting some culture into suburbia. I'm always crying the blues when there's no live music, having come from New York like we have."
The band's merchandising manager, Mike McGowan, had an inside perspective to share. "They've been together for 18 years, and still have all the original players -- nine total in the band," he said. "They do 125 to 150 shows per year. This is our third stop in Connecticut in the past week. Connecticut audiences are great. This is our first time at the Levitt Pavilion."
When swing music made a comeback in the 1990s, McGowan said, "They played the half-time show at the Super Bowl. I've been in this business for 27 years. They're the best to work with. Everybody clicks and we have a great time on the road."
Carleigh Welsh, the director of marketing and communications at the Levitt, introduced the band to the crowd, encouraging, "Let out your inner swinger for America's favorite little big band, Big Bad VooDoo Daddy!"
The repertoire included classic swing beats like Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" as well as selections like "Let It Roll" and "The Devil's Dance" from a new album, the band's ninth.
As the band warmed up, so did the crowd -- many, clearly showing the effects of voodoo, danced the night away.