Ever since they first formed some 25 years ago, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies made it their mission to veer from genre to genre across the musical map, choosing to follow their own muse regardless of feedback from fans and critics alike. Truth be told, individuality and defiance have always been part of the band’s DNA, and have, in turn, reinforced their rebellious reputation. Granted, though that image is well deserved, the ability to bend the boundaries has been simultaneously tempered and informed by an adherence to an older, now vanished tradition, grounded in Tin Pan Alley, Swing music and the great American songbook.
According to the band’s longtime leader, singer/songwriter Steve Perry, the band’s mantra has remained the same – “the obstacle is the path”, that is, to pursue unexpected and difficult avenues that challenge both themselves as artists and modern sensibilities while at the same time adhering to standards and erstwhile traditions of American popular song.
To that point, the band’s new opus titled Please Return the Evening: The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies Salute the Music of the Rat Pack – was designed as a challenge to their craftsmanship in the recording studio, attempting to do justice to original magnificent, orchestral arrangements and recordings, while being limited to their 8 piece band inside a small Eugene, Oregon recording studio.
The recording taps into a tradition established by three of the hippest singers of all time, unique personalities that helped patent the concept of cool. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. When they worked in tandem as the legendary Rat Pack, Sinatra, Martin and Davis found the perfect combination – one that fused sheer swagger with an easy, amiable style. That approach helped define the cultural undercurrents of that critical period from the late ‘50s to the early ‘60s.
Please Return the Evening offers up a superb set of standards that have come to epitomize the Rat Pack’s repertoire – songs like Fly Me To The Moon, and I’m Going To Live Until I Die, that look upward with the singular optimism that energized America at the dawn of the ‘60s, a time that would prove to be the twilight of the swing era.
“We’re really fascinated by that mid century American can-do attitude,” Perry insists. It’s in that singular spirit, a combination of attitude, affability, and desire to go all in– that’s made the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies interesting as well.
The Daddies will also debuting songs from an upcoming (late 2105) album that will be called The Boop-A-Doo. This album will be the second of a planned trilogy of cover tunes designed to outline for fans some of the Daddies swing influences. The Boop-A-Doo covers a much earlier era than Please Return the Evening, songs that might have had their birth at the Cotton Club during the Prohibition era- roughly 1928-1937. Tenor banjo driven tunes like: Lets Misbehave, 42nd Street, and Top Hat showcase the bands versatility and playing chops. Undoubtedly, the Daddies will once again set dance floors ablaze, but this time the music is destined to inspire many a manic Charleston.
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies has always prided itself on its craft and musicianship, superior skills that have allowed them to excel in whatever format they choose to tackle. “In many ways, the cover albums encapsulate everything we’ve woven into our music before,” Perry maintains. “Like I am want to say, “The obstacle is the path” we have always thrown difficulties in our own way and had to fight to overcome them. Tackling these eras in a legitimate fashion we knew was going to be hard, but in the end it helped us to build muscles and understand our craft. It also shines a different light on our body of work and who we are as a band. We see ourselves as coming from a Swing, Jazz and Tin Pan Alley tradition that is almost an extinct lineage in music. We aspire to be worthy of carrying the torch but we have always striven to create our own modern, iconoclastic version. Frankly, we feel the tradition we measure our efforts against offers the ultimate example of what modern music should be, but sadly isn’t, aspiring to.”