By Kev Kurdoghlian
Signal Staff Writer
When Glen Marhevka took the stage at The Canyon in Santa Clarita on the evening of Friday, Sept. 17, he had a lot to celebrate.
Marhevka, the trumpeter for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, a contemporary swing revival band formed in Ventura, experienced something of a homecoming Friday night performing with his band of 28 years.
“The cool thing about Friday, too, is, it’s actually my birthday,” Marhevka, a graduate of Hart High School, told The Signal a few days before the Friday night concert. “I’m excited to be playing in my hometown on my actual birthday, which is cool. And I have a lot of family and friends there.”
Friends, family and guests alike were in for a treat from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Friday night.
Between two trumpets, a trombone, two saxophones, piano, bass, drums and a signer, who also plays guitar, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is “a pretty large band” making performing “super fun,” Marhevka said.
“The band is super excited … just to be playing music and playing in front of people,” he said, noting the COVID-19 pandemic provided a forced break for the band. “The band’s just full of tons of energy right now from all that time off.”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has played over 3,000 shows in its nearly three decades of preforming together.
Marhevka could think of a few career highlights off the top of his head in conversation with The Signal.
He recalled recording a voiceover for an episode of the animated show “Scooby Doo” 20 years ago. Each member of the band was animated for the episode, he said.
“It was like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Gary Coleman, David Cross, I think, and Mark Hamill from ‘Star Wars,’ like Luke Skywalker,” he said. “We were all on the same episode together, it was like crazy.”
Marhevka said that he’s played all over the world.
“Europe and Japan and Australia,” he said, naming a few of the band’s concert destinations abroad. “It’s just cool. We’ve played in every state in the United States, which is pretty mind blowing to think that we played concerts in all the states.”
In 1999, Marhevka and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played in their home state during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXIII, an experience “which was kind of a crazy thing to think about,” he said.
The band has also been a guest artist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and played at the Playboy Jazz Festival.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has also played its own concerts at the Hollywood Bowl several times and recorded with greats like Stevie Wonder and Gloria Estefan.
“I don’t think about it on a daily basis, but like when I start like talking to somebody about it, I’m like ‘wow, that sounds pretty cool,” he said of his career.
Santa Clarita provided the support that helped Marhevka become the accomplished musician he is today.
He played in the school band at Placerita Junior High and Hart High School while growing up in Santa Clarita.
“We had a really great music program at Hart High when I was there. It was fantastic,” he remembered. “It’s kind of made me who I am really, because it was such a great program.”
Marhevka studied under band director Larry Thornton and studied trumpet playing with George Stone, who became the high school director after he left.
His younger years also included a few cool experiences.
“When I was a young student, one of my teachers took me to “The Tonight Show” because he knew like all the guys in the band and, you know, they had a big band,” he said.
Marhevka met Doc Severinsen, a jazz trumpeter with the band of “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. He walked on the set as the show’s band was getting ready for rehearsal.
“He basically stopped everything he was doing and he just hung out with me, because he knew I was a young aspiring trumpet player, and he knew my teacher so he knew that I was probably a pretty serious player,” he said. “And he just stopped everything (and) he just sat there and talked with me about trumpet.”
The experience of meeting “a super famous guy who I idolize” was inspiring for the young Marhevka.
“And I thought, you know if I ever get to any sort of status or anybody is interested in what I’m doing, I’m going to be that cool,” he said.
Marhevka did grow up to be that cool.
For decades now, Marhevka has been giving back to younger musicians in the same way that his teachers did for him when he was growing up in Santa Clarita.
“My teachers out there actually George Stone and Larry Thornton kind of inspired me to teach,” her said, also noting former College of the Canyon jazz legend Stewart “Dirk” Fischer. “I always liked to do that and I like to give back and help younger musicians and I watched my teachers do that with the younger kids.”
Marhevka, who is now also a Yamaha clinician and artist, started teaching high school students during his college years and today teaches out of his home studio in Glendale, California.
“I have a bunch of trumpet students that I teach and they’re actually all over,” he said, noting he had started online instruction a few years before the pandemic. “I’ve been kind of mentoring some students in Maui just because they don’t have any trumpet teachers on that island.”
The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy horn section has been enlisted in the education of younger musicians as well, said Marhevka, who is also giving back by mentoring teachers at Glendale High School and part-time music faculty at Glendale Community College.
When asked if he had any wishes for his birthday this year, this is what he said:
“For me, just being home, and my family is all going to be at the concert and a bunch of my friends and I’m playing on stage with my band in my hometown. So, you know, it’s all been covered. I don’t really need to wish for anything else.”