Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dieselpunk Music

I’ve been told that when some hear the term ‘dieselpunk’ they assume it’s a reference to a form of punk music. While obviously that’s not true, over time a genre of music has started to develop that one could call ‘dieselpunk music.’ The question is how to define it.

First, dieselpunk bands are always contemporary bands. While it's tempting to include the actual bands of the 20's through 40's (You just gotta love Count Basie, Glenn Miller and others from that time) the term ‘punk’ implies a reimagining rather than a retrospective or reenactment.

Second, if we're going to limit ourselves to contemporary bands then one must ask what style of music? It's my opinion, for what it's worth, dieselpunk music should be limited to bands and entertainers whose musical style pays tribute to the era while including original songs in their repertoire.

Finally, trappings and style should have a feel for that era though again not necessarily the same. So we could consider those who dress in pseudo-twenties through forties style.

In many ways the retro-swing movement of the 1990’s fits the bill for meeting the above definition and could be considered as forming the basis of what today might be referred to as dieselpunk music. And one of the great retro-swing, or might we now say dieselpunk, bands is Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (BBVD) was formed in 1989 in Ventura, California. They got their name when the great blues guitarist Albert Collins signed a poster for Scott Morris (BBVD leader and founder), “To Scotty, the big bad voodoo daddy.” Morris correctly thought that would be the perfect name for his new band.

Their big break came with the success of their songs "You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)" and "Go Daddy-O." They’re most recent CD (released April 2009) is a compilation of songs by Cab Calloway titled “How Big Can You Get?”

My wife and I got lucky and recently caught BBVD in concert at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, Texas and I can honestly say they put on a fantastic show. BBVD has an excellent web site.

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