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SHOW REVIEW: Cherry Poppin' Daddies/Blue Meanies/g
Club West, November 5, 1997-Eureka, California

By: Monica Topping

"The Cherry Poppin' Daddies are playing here? No way!" Try to explain this one to your parents...Continuing their recent series of ska shows, Club West hosted out-of-towners, the Blue Meanies, from Chicago, and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, from Eugene, Oregon, on November 5th. Opening the show was Arcata funksters, "g". Led by a barefooted singer, and various other band members sporting Birkenstocks, the shoes (or lack thereof) were the only things making "g" obviously local. They had a great solid sound, and one couldn't help but at least snap their fingers to the funky beats. They played an awesome set, making the crowd's adrenaline start to pump, and the energy start to flow. "g" were super openers for a fantastic show. Besides seeing them at local shows, you can hear "g" on their new album that was released in November.

Next up was the Blue Meanies. This was the first group that I've ever seen, where I've gotten in trouble for "passing notes" during a concert. All I know is that one second, I'm jotting down some notes about the show, then the next, the singer, Billy Spunke, has grabbed my piece of paper and is reading it to another band member up on stage. All I has was some interview questions on that paper, but I still didn't want anything to happen to them. During the next song, Billy came up to the front of the stage, said "You shouldn't be passing notes, young lady," kissed my hand, and gave me my notes back. For the sake of this article, thank goodness he was a nice person.

You may recognize the name of the Blue Meanies for a couple of reasons. First, they played a show in Eureka this summer, opening for MU330. Second is the origin of their name. If you've ever seen the Beatles' movie, "Yellow Submarine," the Blue Meanies were arch rivals of the Beatles, their object, to destroy all happiness and music. Taking this definition, the Blue Meanies have been around since about 1967. The most recent line-up, the one that was at Club West, has been around for 3 years. Currently, they're touring to promote their album, Full Throttle. According to Billy, the theme of the night's set was Humboldt County's most popular agricultural product, to which their song, "Smother Me" was dedicated. And I don't mean the redwood trees.

If there was one word that could be used to describe the Cherry Poppin' Daddies' set, it would have to be "energy". This band, that cannot be described as anything but eclectic, emitted as much energy as the crowd used. It was truly amazing. No one in the room could have stood still, had they actually wanted to. The music had a great beat that even your grandmother could jitterbug to, which was matched by the enthusiasm of the band members. The singer, Steve Perry, was bouncing all over the stage, at one point, doing the splits, much to my amazement. Sean Flannery and Ian Early (sax) kept some of the ska sound going, while Dana Heitman (trumpet) put his 21 years of trumpet playing to work as he soloed on a few songs. Dan Schmid switched between electric and stand-up bass, and Dustin Lanker (keyboards), Jason Moss (guitar), and Tim Donahue (drums), kept the upbeat ska rhythms going.

This was the kind of music that brought swing dancing and nice suits back into style for concerts, thus the Cherry Poppin' Daddies' newest album, Zoot Suit Riot. As far as the Cherry Poppin' Daddies' history goes, the group formed in Eugene, Oregon, in the punk scene of the late '80's. At that time, a few of the members were listening to an old r&b song where a lady referred to a guy as her "cherry poppin' daddyman," meaning her first lover. That group had not yet picked a name, so the Cherry Poppin' Daddies was suggested as a joke. The name sounded jazzy, stylee, sexy, naughty, and most of all, punk rock. No one ever thought of a better name for the band, so the Cherry Poppin' Daddies stuck.

The group is made up of eclectic people with eclectic tastes, which explains their mix of musical styles. The boredom factor keeps them from sticking with only ska, only swing, or only any other type of music. If they would have stuck to one style, the group probably would not still be together, so instead, they mix different genres, and incorporate improvisation, to keep their crowds, as well as themselves, interested in what they do.

The Cherry Poppin' Daddies are writing new songs now, for an album that will be due out sometime in late summer or early fall of 1998. Keep an eye out for more touring, and be sure to make every attempt at seeing them, because the Cherry Poppin' Daddies are definitely a great live show.

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