Since it's BMP season, let's grant the Fogcutters an award for Most Heartwarming Local Show of the Year, for their ambitious, and ultimately wildly successful, "Big Band Syndrome" show at the State Theatre last December 2. Already as large as 21 members, for this particular show the band enlisted local songwriters as diverse as Darien Brahms, Spose, Dave Gutter, and Dominic Lavoie, to put together an extravaganza that managed to put some 700 folks in the State and basically mark a moment in time that few will forget.
Luckily, they documented the occasion, and this week release Big Band Syndrome, Vol. 1, a 22-track, 1:48 double album featuring all the various lead singers and the big-band arrangements that made sometimes familiar, sometimes obscure, songs unique. The variety of material guarantees that every listener will have a different favorite, but for this reviewer, the farther away the Fogcutters get away from their comfort zone, the better, so the Spose tracks ("Can't Get There from Here," especially), and the Mallett Brothers' silly "F-150" pop out as particularly fun. However, their work with a crooner like Lyle Divinsky is a wonderful throwback to the age of big bands and big-voiced singers that's hard not to fall for.
In general, no local music aficionado should even consider passing this one up, but casual followers of our little scene might find this some of the most accessible material around, and a great introduction that will take you right down the local-music rabbit hole if you let it.
BIG BAND SYNDROME, VOL. 1 | Released by the Fogcutters | at the Big Easy, in Portland | June 23 | fogcuttersbigband.com