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Brian Sezter at the Fox, 5 Things To Know
Seventeen years ago eyes rolled when Brian Setzer rolled out the Brian Setzer Orchestra, a 20-piece big band that blended his rockabilly past with the Stray Cats with the then-bourgeoning swing renaissance.
Thanks to hard touring, a well-timed Target ad and, not the least, some great music (including three Grammy Awards), the BSO is still with us and still as vibrant and strong as ever. Setzer and company are on their 14th annual holiday tour, two years on from the release of their third Noel album “Rockin’ Rudolph.” Setzer, 58, still maintains his own career as well, and the Stray Cats still come together on occasion.
One way or another, the Long Island-born guitarist continues to jump, jive an’ wail, and we’re all the better for it...
• Setzer’s take on the BSO’s longevity? “I reckon I just hit something that makes sense to people, I guess,” he says by phone from his current home in Minneapolis. “I know it’s good quality and all that stuff, but somehow it makes sense to people. There’s something magical about that combination, of horns and the big band. Plus what I do with it, with the guitar in front, rocks it out, of course. There’s something about that sound. Luckily, people have related to it, in a way where I don’t have to have any hit records, or I don’t have to do any TV shows or anything. They just want to hear it and they come down every year.”
• He’s always understood those who were skeptical of the Orchestra concept, however. “People didn’t know what a big band was, just like rockabilly,” he explains. “People didn’t even know what that word was. I’m not taking three guys out, I’m taking 18 guys out? I mean, really, there was no way it should’ve even gotten off the ground.”
• Setzer says that making holiday music with the DSO is a unique kind of challenge. “The thing about making the Christmas records is to try and take those songs and make them rock, make them different,” he says. “That’s the challenge with that. I mean, ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,’ what do you do with that? You sang it in kindergarten. That one especially I know when I play it back, everybody loves it. I turn it into some kind of surf, kind of minor-key song. So that’s the challenge with all those songs, to make them your own and to make them different.”
• Setzer expects the Stray Cats to strut again, although never as a full-time concern. “I might go out and play with the guys next year for a couple of shows. I think it’d be fun. I’d like to play with the boys again. We grew up together on the same block, the same neighborhood. It’s nice to kind of be able to do what you want when you want; You don’t have to do a tour just to make some bucks.”
• This year marks the 30th anniversary of the film “La Bamba,” in which Setzer portrayed his influence Eddie Cochran. “That was a ton of fun doing that because...talk about going back to the 50s. They shot it at a high school, my scenes,” he recalls. “It was like the whole thing had to be 1956 00 cars, everyone had to be done up like that. It was a lot of fun to do. It could have been a stinker; Luckily it really turned out to be really a good movie. I didn’t have a lot offers to do things after that, but acting is not my thing. I played Eddie Cochran, so that was out of love.”
If You Go:
• The Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Texas Gentleman
• 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15.
• Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
• Tickets are $30-$50.
• Call 313-471-6611 or visit 313Presents.com.
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