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An unlikely pair gets ready to swing

The Glendale High School jazz band will open for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Alex.

February 14, 2014|By Jonny Whiteside
  • File Photo: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy celebrates the band's local roots and will perform for music education at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Saturday, Feb. 22.
File Photo: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy celebrates the band's… (Photo by Don Miller…)

When swing revivalists Big Bad Voodoo Daddy formed in 1993, they were a severe anomaly, one that seemed destined to be overshadowed by the Nirvanas, Tupacs and Whitney Houstons who ruled the pop charts. Twenty years later, the brassy septet has outlived them and their appearance Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Alex Theater is going to be a very special triple-threat event.

"We've kept the band together all these years and we have not stopped playing, been on the road the whole time," trumpeter and Glendale native Glen Marhevka said recently. "The most we've taken off, at one time, is four weeks. We're closing in on 3,000 concerts played. It's crazy — time flies."

In the chaotic world of pop music, such longevity is unusual. "It's been the same guys the entire time, too. Imagine being married to seven different people!" Marhevka said with a laugh. "It is pretty rare, but we all move in the same direction and that's why we're still together. We don't always agree on everything but we respect each other so it works."

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With the band currently celebrating that milestone anniversary, the Alex date is also a rare hometown gig for Marhevka and pianist (and Glendale resident) Joshua Levy. More importantly, it's a benefit concert with all proceeds going to the music and arts programs at Verdugo Woodlands, Franklin Magnet Elementary Schools, and the GUSD's middle and high school band programs.

"When I was a kid in school, I got to experience some great live music from professional musicians who came into our class," Marhevka said. "It really did change my life. So to me and all the guys in the band, it's totally worth all the effort."

"Music education is so important, and the funding has gone done in the last few years so we all feel it's more important than ever. Joshua Levy and I both live here and we've both got kids in the schools here. My kid plays trombone but she gets music instruction once a week for 25 minutes — when I was a kid, I got it every day. There are resources but they are spread thin, so we want to reach out to help also try to inspire other people to help."

Marhevka's commitment to Glendale schools extends to contributing his time and expertise for the last few years backstage at "Father's Follies," the Jewel City's colorful, cross-dressing annual musical extravaganza established in 1949 by the great Hollywood character actor Joe Sawyer.

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