Spring Fever cranks up the volume this weekend with the first two of four headlining concerts on the snow at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge, starting with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Saturday, April 12, followed by ’90s rock sweethearts The Gin Blossoms on Sunday, April 13. Both concerts start at 2 p.m.
Evolution of voodoo
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy first reached airwaves in the ’90s during a mini swing revival that included, among others, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (“Zoot Suit Riot”) and The Brian Setzer Orchestra (“Jump Jive An’ Wail”). Big Bad Voodoo Daddy trumpet player Glen “The Kid” Marhevka said the band has matured musically since it first found success.
“Everybody as individual players has gotten better,” he said. “After close to 3,000 concerts, everybody has gotten better at their craft. If you listen to our first album and the one we did recently, you’ll notice a growth in the sound and musicianship. We’ve developed our sound and everybody has their own sound.”
Marhevka said he and his band mates have grown accustom to one another, which has allowed the music to get better and better over the years — still with that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy sound. He said they are always striving to be better, pushing each other in a good way, and though he has fond memories of the early years of the band, he doesn’t necessarily miss those days.
“All the different times in our career have been fun,” Marhevka said. “In the early days in the van traveling up and down the West Coast, I enjoyed those times, I look back with great memories, but it’s fun to move on. … Our journey keeps on moving forward, so we try not to look back that way but look forward to new adventures.”
Twenty-plus years is a long time to be on the road with a group of guys, but Marhevka said the band tries to keep it fresh by creating new music.
“When we go out and travel, we try to listen to different musicians, get inspired, turn each other on to different things,” he said. “That’s what we’ve done all these years. We’ve been on the road for over 20 years now. We travel, meet people, see things, stay inspired by that, and that’s part of what we’ve been doing.”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy put out its 10th album, “It Feels Like Christmas Time,” last year on the heels of its 2012 release “Rattle Them Bones.”
“It’s always interesting recording a Christmas album,” Marhevka said. “This is actually our second. You’ll be recording Christmas music in the springtime or the summer. It’s the same sort of process (as any other studio album) — you’re doing the best to make everything sound right — but it’s different to do holiday music, for sure. … It is kind of weird to record Christmas music when it’s not Christmas time.”
Music pundits have differing views on whether recording a holiday album is a good career move or the equivalent of jumping the shark, but Marhevka said the band’s first Christmas release was so well received that it was an easy decision to put out another one.
“It definitely is an interesting point in your career to do holiday music,” he said. “We went out after the first one and did holiday shows, a lot of theaters and performing arts centers, and people like to hear that stuff live. … They were really digging it.”
Marhevka said last year, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy thought it would be a good idea to add more songs to its holiday repertoire.
“You don’t want to play the same exact Christmas music every year, so we went for it,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s a great career moment or the worst career moment. We try not to think about that, just think about fun, cool music that people enjoy. I think if you are analyzing it more than that, you should just take a step back and enjoy playing music.”
Head for the hills
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has been touring pretty consistently for the past few years, first in support of “Rattle Them Bones,” followed by their annual Christmas tour, which started just after Thanksgiving. Marhevka said the band went right back out in January and February, and after a few weeks off, it’s picking up again for the spring.
“We’re slowing it down now,” he said. “We’re out playing a lot of concerts and having a lot of fun doing some outdoor shows. Then in the fall we’ll do performing arts centers, and before you know it, it’ll be Christmas time again. We’re always out there playing and touring, so it’s kind of a fun time.”
Marhevka was only slightly apprehensive about the prospect of playing outdoors for Spring Fever in Breckenridge and a bit bummed that the band probably wouldn’t have any time for skiing or riding while they are here.
“We’re going to get there the evening before, play in the afternoon, leave the next morning, so I don’t think it’s going to happen on this trip,” he said. “I would love to hit it while we’re up there, but we don’t really have any time.”
Twenty years of touring can become a grind, but Marhevka said what he likes about Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is the collective energy that emanates when the band gets onstage together, pushing one another and having a good time.
“There’s camaraderie and energy when we get onstage,” he said. “I haven’t felt it in too many other groups that I’ve performed with. There’s something about when these guys all get onstage together; it’s just fun. … It’s an uplifting experience every time we get onstage, we feel that great energy and excitement. It’s still fun, and it’s still exciting.”