Back in the mid-1990s, you couldn’t swing your partner without hitting someone listening to swing music. Songs such as “Jump, Jive and Wail,” from the Brian Setzer Orchestra, “Zoot Suit Riot,” from Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, “Hell” from Squirrel Nut Zippers and “You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight,” from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy were in constant rotation on radio stations and blaring throughout college parties across the country.
Time wasn’t kind to the then-crowned sultans of swing. Most of the bands from that genre have broken up. A few, such as the Brian Setzer Orchestra and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, are still swingin’.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is set to perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club. The band, which celebrated 20 years together, will play songs from throughout their career, including tunes off their last album “Rattle Them Bones,” which was released in 2012.
For trumpet player Glen “The Kid” Marhevka, two decades together doesn’t seem so surprising.
“The funny thing is as soon as I joined the band, I kind of thought this was going to be a great thing,” Marhevka said. “I always thought this was something we could do for a long time. I’m happy to have it hit 20 years — I was kinda hoping for it.”
Mutual respect has gone a long way with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The group collaborates on new projects and each member brings thoughts of new song ideas to everyone’s attention.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time and everyone really puts in 110 percent all the time and that was the great thing about this band from the very beginning,” Marhevka said. “Everybody was really committed to it and we sort of hand-chose each guy in the band as we formed it. They’re all great guys. I think the camaraderie we have with us all being great friends, everybody just sort of fit in when we were adding guys to the band. We don’t always get along. It’s inevitable that you’re going to clash on things, but I think everybody has a great respect for each other and, in general, we have a great time doing what we do.”
Before the release of “Rattle Them Bones” in 2012, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy released their homage to Cab Calloway in 2009 called “How Big Can You Get? The Music of Cab Calloway.” For “Rattle,” the band wanted to go back to a more original sound.
“We were ready to do another original album and do more original music and also do some stuff based on our influences in our travels and things that we’ve been listening to,” Marhevka said. “I think everybody sort of brought different ideas of songs and styles. Scotty Morris is our main songwriter and I think he had a lot of original ideas he had been working on and building on in his head.
“We did a lot of different styles — we did traditional New Orleans jazz … that’s a style we love just listening to all the traditional musicians from New Orleans. There’s a tune called ‘5-10-15 Times,’ which has more of a modern Big Band sound, like 1960s were you might possibly hear the Duke Ellington Band or Count Basie Band during that time. We just got all those tunes together and recorded it. It was a great experience.”
Marhevka is no stranger to music. His father played the saxophone and, although he worked a normal day job, he would play the sax almost every weekend, according to Marhevka.
So why did Marhevka pick the trumpet?
“I really have no idea why I chose that, but I adamantly wanted to play the trumpet,” Marhevka said. “I started playing a trumpet in fifth grade … in a school band program. … It took me several months to convince [my dad] to let me get a trumpet, but he did.”
Marhevka said he was a quick study when it came to the trumpet and he hasn’t put it down since.
“I never looked back,” Marhevka said. “I’ve had some great teachers along the way. When I hit junior high school, I had three amazing teachers — one was my private teacher who taught me how to play trumpet, and my other two were band directors who both were trumpet players as well. I just had such a great experience in those years. I played any style of music anywhere I possibly could. It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.”
Talk to most rock stars and they will tell you about their collection of guitars — new and old. The same can be said about Marhevka. Although he doesn’t have an exact number, he does collect trumpets and other musical instruments.
“I don’t have a huge collection,” Marhevka said. “A few years ago, I kind of went through and let a few horns go that I wasn’t using. I’d rather have other people using them. I gave one to one of my cousins who’s in high school band. I’ve just let some stuff go over the years. … I have some trumpets, I have some flugelhorn … just a lot of different styles of trumpets.”
Although most of the big swing bands from the 1990s have split up, Marhevka said Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has never once entertained the notion of not playing together. Besides, they weren’t playing to be part of pop culture.
“We decided to be a band and play our style of music before it was any sort of fad,” Marhevka said. “We just did it because we loved it and it grew into what it was. It got super popular in the pop scene, but we just kept doing our thing. That wasn’t the reason we did it. … I think the band’s a great live band, personally. I would say it’s just a great show band and everybody’s a great performer and we just love being on stage. We just kept doing our thing and we didn’t really care about any of that stuff. We’ve played, I think, over 3,000 concerts. We’ve built up a great fan base over the years and we’re always out there doing what we love.”
The band is set to release a new Christmas album on Nov. 1, according to Marhevka. Afterwards, they’ll start a holiday tour on Thanksgiving to promote the new record.
“That’s pretty much our project right now,” Marhevka said. “I think all the stuff has been recorded and it’s being mixed right now.”
As for the title of the album ...
“I don’t think we’re allowed to release that information yet,” Marhevka laughed.