Set­zer hasn’t strayed from his retro roots

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Jor­dan

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

With his po­maded hairdo and ubiq­ui­tous tat­toos, Brian Set­zer may seem like an un­likely harbinger of hol­i­day good cheer, but the fact is that in re­cent years he has come to dom­i­nate the sound­track of the sea­son like no artist since Perry Como.

Set­zer, who brings his big band Christ­mas show to the Horse­shoe Casino tonight, first came to pop­u­lar at­ten­tion in the early ’80s as the front­man for the short-lived but wildly pop­u­lar rock­a­billy trio the Stray Cats. But since 1990 he’s led a very dif­fer­ent — if still stub­bornly retro — sort of group.

The Brian Set­zer Or­ches­tra is a 17-piece rock and roll or­ches­tra that takes its in­spi­ra­tion, most promi­nently, from Arkansas jump blues mas­ter Louis Jor­dan and Louis Prima, whose “Jump Jive an’ Wail,” pro­vided the group with their only hit to date. (The Set­zer Or­ches­tra ver­sion was mem­o­rably used in a Gap com­mer­cial.)

The larger group has in­spired Set­zer to broaden his sonic pal­ette be­yond the thump and twang of rock­a­billy. Be­sides the usual swing, surf, and boo­gie woo­gie, the group has tack­led clas­si­cal (2007’s Wolf­gang’s Big Night Out) and on Set­zer’s lat­est record, the dark and moody sounds of clas­sic film noir.

Re­leased in Oc­to­ber, Songs From Lonely Av­enue is Set­zer’s sec­ond col­lab­o­ra­tion with leg­endary Hol­ly­wood com­poser and ar­ranger Frank Com­stock, best known for his work on “Drag­net” and “Adam 12.” The al­bum it­self, Set­zer says, is a sound­track to a nonex­is­tent ’50s crime drama.

“I’d love to give the al­bum to Quentin Tarantino and go, ‘Can you write a film around this?’ ” Set­zer re­cently told Star-Tri­bune in his cur­rent home­town of Min­neapo­lis, Minn.

Ear­lier this month, the first sin­gle from Lonely Av­enue , “Mr. Surfer Goes Jazzin,’ ” was nom­i­nated for a Grammy in the Best Rock In­stru­men­tal cat­e­gory. It’s Set­zer’s 10th nom­i­na­tion. He has won three of the awards.

Set­zer never con­sciously set out to be­come a Yule­tide rocker. In 1996 he was asked to con­trib­ute to the Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger Christ­mas movie “Jin­gle All the Way.” Re­al­iz­ing there was no rock ver­sion of “Jin­gle Bells,” he ar­ranged one him­self. A Los An­ge­les ra­dio sta­tion be­gan play­ing it, and the re­quests for more came pour­ing in.

Set­zer and his or­ches­tra have since made two hol­i­day al­bums, 2002’s Boo­gie Woo­gie Christ­mas and 2005’s Dig That Crazy Christ­mas, which both mix rocked-up cov­ers of old fa­vorites with their own ’50s-in­spired com­po­si­tions like “Santa Drives a Hot Rod.” In Oc­to­ber, co­in­cid­ing with the release of Lonely Av­enue , Set­zer’s Surf­dog Records re­leased Christ­mas Rocks! The Best of Col­lec­tion, com­prised of choice tracks from the two al­bums, and The Ul­ti­mate Christ­mas Col­lec­tion, which in­cludes Christ­mas Rocks! plus a con­cert DVD con­tain­ing 25 ad­di­tional per­for­mances.

Brian Set­zer, for­mer front­man for the Stray Cats, heads up a cool Yule with his 17-piece rock and roll or­ches­tra.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.