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Stray Cats Still Know How To Strut

Of the Oakland Press

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Even though the group hasn’t been a full-time concern since the mid-’80s, getting the Stray Cats ready for a tour doesn’t take a great amount of preparation, according to drummer Slim Jim Phantom.

“Historically, it’s pretty easy,” says Phantom, 46, who was born Jim McDonnell.

“The last time before a tour when we rehearsed, we wound up playing for half an hour, and it was like, ‘You remember that one? OK. Sounds good ...’ Before long, someone’s out getting pizza, someone’s on the phone, someone’s playing pinball. ‘OK, see you at the first gig ...’

“Everyone’s got a lot of confidence in the other guys. I’d worry about me first before I’d worry about them. But everyone’s so good. And, I mean, we’ve gotta know these songs by now, right? It’s just a matter of blowing the dust off ’em a little.”

Still, Phantom doesn’t see any of the three Stray Cats taking a shine to a full-fledged reunion for the rockabilly trio.

“I don’t know if anyone can do that anymore, to be honest with you,” he explains. “I think at best you can dedicate a certain amount of time to it. We’ve got wives and kids and houses ...”

And other interests, as well. Phantom operates the Cat Club, a night spot in West Hollywood. Guitarist Brian Setzer maintains an active solo career, mostly with his Big Band, while bassist Lee Rocker has a new solo album, “Black Cat Bone,” due out Aug. 14.

But, Phantom notes, “I always want to play. It’s pretty much down to everyone’s schedule. When everyone wants to do it, it’s always good, so I don’t think we’ll stop entirely — at least not for awhile.”

The Stray Cats perform with ZZ Top and the Pretenders at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (July 25th) at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway, Sterling Heights. Tickets are $49.50-$75 pavilion, $14.50 lawn. Call (586) 268-5100 or visit www.freedomhill.net.

Web Site: www.freedomhill.net

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