By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)
Westport, CT – Spontaneous dancing, bold and brassy notes and a sophisticated vibe characterized the evening Sunday as Big Bad VooDoo Daddy laid down some hot jive for a cool crowd at Westport’s Levitt Pavilion.
Sponsored by RBC Wealth Management, the event, which helps fund the entire season of 57 installments of free entertainment at the facility, attracted over 300 people who came to relax in sports chairs, sip a little wine and beer and just unwind for a little while.
As a thank-you to RBC and other significant program donors, the evening featured a pre-concert reception under a white tent near the front entry of the pavilion grounds. There, In Good Taste Catering and Matsusushi offered V.I.P.s wine and finger foods.
“We have a long-term relationship with the Levitt Pavilion,” said Paul Teoh, owner of Matsusushi at 33 Jesup Road. “This is a great opportunity for the community, and for our business as we are walking distance from the pavilion. It’s a mutually satisfying collaboration.”
Christina Negrin, owner of In Good Taste, said her business had been helping the Levitt out for over 10 years. “This is a wonderful resource for families and the surrounding community,” she said, echoing Teoh.
There were a number of BBVD fans on hand and they 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 Levitt Pavilion veteran, Westporter Michael Ferry said, “I have a couple Big Bad VooDoo Daddy CDs. I like the genre. The swing, jump, blues. It’s gonna 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, of Greenwich, 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.”
On a background note, McGowan added, “Back when swing came back big in the late 90s -- the band’s hey day – 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.”
Levitt’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Carly Walsh, had the honor of unleashing BBVD on the gathering, encouraging, “Let out your inner swinger for America’s favorite little big band, Big Bad VooDoo Daddy!”
There followed 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. The notes curled around the crowd and, as forecast, brought revelers young and old to their feet to boogie the evening away.