Cherry Poppin’ Daddies Bring Swing, Ska to Pacific

How often does anyone get to see a band that has been compared to both Red Hot Chili Peppers and Frank Zappa, produced a double platinum album, inadvertently fronted the rebirth of a genre, and belongs to the Oregon Music Hall of Fame? My guess is rarely if ever, but Boxers aren’t just anybodies and we got that golden opportunity a couple weeks ago (Oct 22) as part of Homecoming and Boxer Nation Celebration, when The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (TCPD) graced campus with both their historical presence and groovin’ tunes.

Eclectic, electric, and at times eccentric, TCPD have at been all of these things at point in time. Formed in 1989 in Eugene, Oregon, TCPD aren’t a group to stick within the confines of any single genre. They can clearly be heard to have punk, jazz, swing, ska, and funk influences, just to name a few, but don’t call them neo-swing to their face, they won’t like that.

The band’s name comes from a jive phrase that the band once heard on a race record, which was an collection of old vinyl records containing music geared more towards African Americans. With that in mind, the name could be viewed as intended to reflect both the band’s jazzy influence and punk irrelevant attitude, but really it was made out of an impulse as they ran out of time to come up with anything else before posters were printed promoting their first show at Eugene’s W.O.W. hall on March 31st, 1989.

TCPD are probably best known for their 1997 double platinum album and single of the same name, Zoot Suit Riot. While still a great song and a throw back to the swing genre of the 1940’s, it’s only a snippet of the sounds that the band is capable of producing. While most band’s typically try and hone and perfect their individual sound, TCPD show off their musical virtuosity by jumping around genres and producing whatever sounds good.

Some visitors to campus may have mistakenly thought Friday’s show was all about swing, but as lead singer Steve Perry said in the July 1998 of Spin Magazine, “it’s not our mission to be a swing band. I’m not a guy from the ’40s. That’s why we play ska and use heavy guitars. If people can’t dance the way they want, so be it.” The event was sponsored by ACE Board and Alumni Relations and was a smashing hit!


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