Big Ray and The Kool Kats sprang to musical life in 1996 when Ray Caddell, longtime professional musician, and veteran of tours and performances (from Frank Sinatra to Gladys Knight to The Temptations) was driving down the road listening to the University of Virginia college radio station and heard a tune from a band with a different, horn-driven sound that somehow seemed to combine rock, Motown and Big Band music. He called the station, found out the band’s name, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, got a copy of the cd from the station, and wore it out on his car’s cd player.
Ray’s current project at that time, The Ray Caddell Swing Orchestra, was working sometimes a couple of times a month playing traditional big band swing music with some of the best musicians in town. Rehearsals were sometimes more fun than the gigs, playing through the great repertoire of the ’30s and ’40s, but there really wasn’t a lot of work for a traditional big band, and challenges like stage size and budgets made it difficult to work as much as he liked. After many years of 6 nights a week, a few nights here and there just wasn’t the same.