Brian Setzer kicks off his “Christmas Rocks! Extravaganza” tour tonight at the MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board, but at this juncture, he says the show isn’t shackled to his Yuletide repertoire.
“Y’know, the Christmas tour now is pretty much whatever I want to do,” - - '? 1 I says Setzer, 50, the Stray Cats frontman who launched his big band Orchestra in 1990. “I still do a lot of the Christmas songs, but I’ll be doing some new songs, some Stray Cats stuff. I just pick the songs I want to do now, and people don’t seem to mind. They just want to hear the songs.”
That’s fortuitous for Setzer, since he has a new Orchestra album to hawk these days. “Songs From Lonely Avenue,” which came out in October, was inspired by film noir themes from the ’40s and ‘50s, with arrangements by Frank Comstock, the 87-yearold arranger who worked with Judy Garland, Stan Kenton, Benny Carter and many others and also wrote the theme songs for “Dragnet,” “Adam 12” and “Rocky & Bullwinkle.”
The album’s concept came while Setzer was watching a baseball game and fiddling with his guitar. “I came up with a guitar lick that sounded a little film noir and then wrote some chords around it,” he says. From there, he adds, “the songs just came out of me,” as did a loose story that ties together the album’s 13 songs.
“I was thinking that I was really putting together a story, and wouldn’t it be cool if I wrote the soundtrack first and then wrote the actual movie?” Setzer explains. “If you listen to the song in order, a (story) is there ... It’s thoughtout; to me, it could all be part of a movie. I’d love Quentin Tarantino to take a crack at it.”
The Brian Setzer Orchestra performs at 8 p.m. Friday (Nov. 20) at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $52 and $57. Call (313) 237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
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