Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
Wonder Ballroom
Portland, OR. 4.19.08

The shot-in-the-dark resurgence of the Swing movement in the NorthWest has long been over…Well, not quite. Gone are the flap dancing Zoot Suit clad 20 and 30 somethings that crowded many a dance floor in the lat 90’s. And long gone also are a good number of the bands that payed mostly worthy tributes to that great era.

Not gone however, is the fabulous Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, who are arguably the band who single handedly jump-started the swing era resurgence in Portland and the N.W. as early as the late 80’s. Their success has a lot to do with their smart inclusion of ska, punk and “Rat Pack” elements. Spike Jones lyrical content, Sergio Mendez interludes and Zappa-esque complicated note structuring definitely helped.

One of the coolest and unique attributes about the Daddies is that there’s not much comparison to match them with. Yeah, there’sRoyal Crown Review who maintain the 40’s and early 50’s hard-boiled approach. And there’s theSquirrel Nut Zippers, who’s niche is more afforded to areas of Gypsy and Klezmer. But the CPD’s have consistently re-evaluated the cutting edge of the times, and prevailed as relevant and sharp.

The Daddies invigorated a nice sized crowd in Portland, partly in support of their new CD, “Susquehanna”(see S.P. Clarke’s review). But the CPD’s still show an all consuming fire to keep knocking out great numbers from their vast catalogue. This crowd brought a little of the late 90’s swing crowd back, but a whole lot of the dancers were just regular Joe’s and Jane’s who just plain dig the excitable lure of the band’s appeal, which has become legendary. I spoke with a very young couple who’d first heard them in Jr. high school, “They are so way-out there, we’re so stoked and glad to be here. They are unbelievably cool!”

Vocalist Steve Perry has lost neither of his moves nor his sweaty sex appeal as he jumped, jived and waled on the stage. The chicks were reaching out with mouths agaped and eyes agog while he crooned Sinatra-esque numbers, erstwhile twisting his hips and vrooming his signature tenor voice with an Elvis-like vibrato. Steve muses, “Our audiences have morphed over the years from hippies and grungers, to swing and the ska crowd, and always the rockabilly and hipsters. Now with the internet we’ve got quite a metal fan base.”

This is no surprise since from their debut album, “Ferociously Stoned” these guys were breaking all molds by fusing countless genres together, but with a clear nod to Swing as a modus-operandi. “We’ve always tried to keep making it different. We’re just trying to justify american music by giving it a different slant wherever we can. Pop music is just the palette to work from as a starting point, and then just fuck with the dead space.” The Band moved through a great variety of new and old, kicking them out with just enough of their original vintage feel, but taking the songs through some updated modes to keep them interesting.”

An important note is that Perry recently finished up a degree in molecular genetics that took him some 22 years to accomplish. Not because of a lacking of ambition or good grades, but because he vowed to keep his well-oiled machine of top notch musicians on the march. “I can’t do music and biology at the same time”, says Perry.

We think you can.

© 2011 Buko Magazine

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