Old School

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy roars into Thunder Valley

Scotty Morris - Click for more images

Scotty Morris – Click for more images

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brought the roaring twenties and swing revival to Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday, as the casino continues their countdown to 2013.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has been bringing the big band era music to the masses for over 20 years. Their music takes the listener back to the days of old, when gangsters weren’t quite as scary, and a flapper was a young and trending woman, not something found in a toilet. Some say those were the good ‘ole days.

Mixing their roaring twenties attitude and big horns, the band of all things swing, fuses together some of the most prolific sounds of swing, jazz and contemporary classics to create an original and exciting array of sounds that put the likes of Cab Calloway to shame, well almost. Nobody can put Calloway to shame.

Gotta love them horns!

Gotta love them horns!

Kicking off their set with “Come On With The ‘Come On’” and “Calloway Boogie,” they had the audience dancing in their seats from the start. That was a bit strange, because at most concerts fans would be standing up in the front row dancing. Apparently this was a more subdued and polite crowd.

Thunder Valley missed out on an opportunity to provide a dance floor for the many fans wanting to get up and boogie. While a number of people were dancing off to the side, the carpet just didn’t cut it.

Still in holiday mode, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy went on to play a few of their songs from their Christmas album including “Merry Christmas Baby” and “Mr. Heatmeiser.”

Andy Rowley (L) and Karl Hunter

Andy Rowley (L) and Karl Hunter


As the band started up with Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher,” lead singer Scotty Morris led the crowd through the ho-dee ho-dee ho’s and the Hi-dee hi-dee hi’s. During the song the audience jumped in at the appropriate times as well.

This was an extremely fun concert with a high energy band. While some people may never give Big Bad Voodoo Daddy a listen due to their roaring twenties label and swing sound, others are quickly realizing that this is a band that has a sound all its own, with some very catchy tunes.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Click for more images

Band members include 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), Joshua Levy (piano and arranger), Anthony Bonsera Jr. (lead trumpet) and Alex Henderson (trombone).

You can catch these dapper fellows on The Tonight Show on Jan. 9, where they will perform “Why Me?”
Come On With The “Come On”
Calloway Boogie
Merry Christmas Baby
Mr. Heatmeiser
Mr. Pinstripe Suit
Hey Now
The Reefer Man
Minnie the Moocher
Diga Diga Do
Devil’s Dance
5-10-15 Times
We Three Kings
Zig Zaggity Woop Woop
You and Me & The Bottle Makes 3
I Wan’na Be Like You
Go Daddy O

Why Me?
So Long Farewell-Goodbye


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Legends of Soul – Playing it Old School

The Dramatics - Played by James Hill, Stan Lockwood, Rodney James, Douglas Stepney, and Chase Ruffin

The Legends of Soul Tribute Show is a group of individuals who impersonate ““ well ““ legends of soul.

This very talented group of guys and gals, put on nothing short of a true Las Vegas style show, with each impersonator in full character during their entire set, and many performers playing multiple characters.

As droves of young and old crowded into Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s Pano Hall on Saturday, radio personality, and the evenings emcee Nick Harper thanked everyone for coming out to the show, as well as Thunder Valley Casino for providing such a great venue.

The Legends of Soul kicked off their 2+ hour extravaganza with the legendary Sam Cooke played by Elijah Sterling (Get it? Legends of Soul ““ legendary Sam Cooke. I know, it cracked me up too.) Cooke dressed in a powder blue suit with matching hat, sang “Cupid” and “Twist the Night Away,” easily two of Cooke’s greatest hits from the early “’60s.

Marvin Gaye - Played by Chase Ruffin - Click for more images

Following Cooke was Jackie Wilson, played by John Hampton. Wilson was known as Mr. Excitement due to his dynamic dance moves while onstage. Hampton didn’t disappoint as he took the stage by storm, dancing much like Wilson. Singing “You Keep Lifting Me Higher” and “Baby Workout,” Hampton delivered a high energy performance.

Wilson Pickett, played by Dwayne Thompson, delivered a soulful performance of “Mustang Sally,” followed by “In the Midnight Hour,” two of Pickett’s biggest hits.

The Legends of Soul wouldn’t be complete without the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, played by Samantha Richardson. A gentleman, accompanying Franklin on stage, removed a white fur she had draped around her neck and left the stage as she belted out “Chains of Fools” and “Rock Steady.” Franklin finished off her set with an extremely well done rendition of “Respect.”

The O’Jays arrived on stage singing “Love Train” and “Back Stabbers.” The trio was in perfect synchronization their entire set and sounded eerily familiar to the original O’Jays.

The Stylistics and The Dramatics also performed later in the show. Both groups performed flawlessly while they danced in-step with each other, lending to their credible performance.

Needing no introduction due to the silky tone and song choice, Lou Rawls, played by Russell Branch, came out singing “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” followed by “Lady Love.” I believe I saw a woman or two faint, he was that good.

Al Green - Played by Lionel Burns - Click for more images

So the show continued with one legend after another.  Some audience members were lost in the moment, as I’m sure they were thinking back to those long forgotten memories, or maybe they were just dosing ,as some folks in the crowd were just a tad on the old side.

Other stars that shared the stage were Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Patti Labelle, and Stevie Wonder.

Most notable was John Hampton coming out as Stevie Wonder. Lending to the credible performance was Producer Rudolph Peter’s as he guided Wonder to his keyboard, taking Wonder’s hand and guiding it to the keyboard and microphone to ensure Wonder knew where they were. Complete with the sound of Wonder, Hampton’s performance included all the mannerisms of the legend.

Every performer did an excellent job staying in character and singing just like the real thing. The real standouts of the show, and mostly forgotten in the background, was the band, as they played a wide variety of hits throughout the night.

Stevie Wonder - Played by John Hampton - Click for more images

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this group of talented individuals performing in Las Vegas at some point in the future. They pack in the people, they love what they do, and they do it well.

Complete Cast in order of Appearance:

Master of Ceremony:  Nicholas Harper
Sam Cooke: Elijah Sterling
Jackie Wilson ““ John Hampton
Wilson Pickett: Dwayne Thompson
Aretha Franklin: Samantha Richardson. Background Dee Johnson and Dewanna Slaughter
The O’Jays:  Charles Boomer, David Lige, and Lionel Burns
Lou Rawls:  Russell Branch
Curtis Mayfield:  Elijah Sterling
Marvin Gaye: Chase Ruffin
Al Green:  Lionel Burns
The Dramatics: James Hill, Stan Lockwood, Rodney James, Douglas Stepney, and Chase Ruffin
Patti Labelle: Dee Johnson ,background – Samantha Richardson, and Dewanna Slaughter
Stevie Wonder: John Hampton
The Stylistics: Ralph Greene (lead vocals), background- Elijah Sterling, Rodney James, and David Lige
Michael Jackson: Thurman Conners
Band:   (Lead Guitar) Richard Cravalho, (Drummer) Rich Aguon, (Bass Guitar) Darrel Broadnax, (Keyboard Left) Archie White, (Keyoard Right) Earnest Nation, and (Congo) Glen Austin
Producer: Rudolph Peters



Girls Night Out at Power Balance Pavilion

Girls’ night out at Power Balance Pavilion

Local radio station V101.1 hosted the Freestyle Explosion at Power Balance Pavilion, with radio personality Dr. Don Sainte-Johnn as the emcee and Expose headlining. Giving Expose top billing was a brilliant idea, since they are credited for bringing the freestyle genre of music to the forefront back in the ’80s.

The Freestyle Explosion revisits the freestyle sound that was popular in the late ’80s and early ’90s, an underground mixture of Latin hip-hop, electronic supplementation and the occasional house grooves. Despite their brief stint in the spotlight, the artists who brought freestyle music to the masses have been immortalized on the club circuit, with a die-hard fan base throughout Europe and in most major cities in the United States.

Friday night was definitely girls’ night out, as hundreds of women packed into Power Balance Pavilion, with a few guys dragged along, to see Expose, Lisa Lisa, Shannon, Debbie Deb and Cynthia. And there was some eye-candy thrown in for the ladies, like Johnny O, and Nice & Wild.

David Torres - Click for more images

First up was David Torres, one of the three original members of Nice & Wild. He opened with “Diamond Girl,” gyrating across the stage, much to the delight of all the women. I’m not so sure the guys were happy with the opening, but, hey, they could have grown a pair and stayed home. I found his vocals flat, but he put on a good show.

Next up was Cynthia singing a medley of her hits, including “Change on Me” and “Gonna Get Over You.” She was less energetic than the others, but she made up for it with her stellar vocals.

Cynthia - Click for more images




Following Cynthia was Johnny O singing a medley of his hits, which included “Fantasy Girl.” He was joined by Cynthia, and together they performed a great rendition of “Dream Boy/Dream Girl.” Johnny O was very energetic, eliciting screams from all the women and a few men “” but I’m sure you’ll never hear them admit it.

Debbie Deb - Click for more images


Debbie Deb came out with three ladies from the audience. She only introduced them as her backup dancers, without mentioning anyone by name. She sang two of her hits, “Lookout Weekend” and “When I Hear Music.” She sounded great.

The Cover Girls, consisting of Evelyn Escalera, Lorrain Munoz and Sabrina Nieves, came out singing “Wishing on a Star” and a number of other hits, ending with “Inside Outside.” They did a great job and had some old-school choreography going, which I think is just classy.

Shannon - Click for more images

Shannon came out and sang several of her hits, closing with “When I Hear Music.” Prior to taking the stage, several enlisted soldiers were introduced to the crowd. Shannon and Debbie Deb had performed in Iraq, where she met Specialist Gonzalez, Sargent Gray and Specialist Bradford.

I spoke to Bradford prior to the show, as he was sipping his cocktail ““ compliments of Shannon. Hailing from the 49th Military Police Brigade, Bradford first met Shannon at Camp Liberty. He said Shannon committed to the troops during her visit in Iraq, and that they were welcome at any show, wherever she was playing. As she tours across the country, her tour manager has been keeping in touch via Facebook and phone, letting troops know her schedule and arranging VIP passes. All three soldiers wanted to be sure I mentioned how thankful they were to Shannon for giving them the opportunity.

Shannon danced with the soldiers during her performance. Having two left feet, as I do, Bradford struggled with his moves, but he gave it a valiant effort. Both Gonzalez and Gray were having a great time, getting down with Shannon.

Lisa Lisa - Click for more images



After a brief intermission, the concert really took off with Lisa Lisa jumping up on stage. She played a number of hits, including “Can You Feel the Beat,” “Lost in Emotion” and “Kiss Your Tears Away.” She had the audience up on their feet the entire set. She sounded great, while her two male dancers rocked the stage. She looked like she was having a great time, showing us her infectious smile. From my perspective, Lisa Lisa should have been headlining, but I get it.
Finally Expose arrived singing “Seasons Change.” They sounded good and had a well-choreographed routine going. They sang several hits,

Expose - Click for more images

ending with “Point of No Return.” While they did a fantastic job entertaining the crowd, I believe Lisa Lisa stole the show. By the time they were finished, many people had already started leaving. This may have been due to the concert going well past 11:30 p.m.

It was fun watching young and old enjoy a bit of old-school music. I didn’t mind either. Let’s face it “” there was a bit of eye-candy there for the guys, too.

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