Brian Setzer Orchestra

Tag: Alternative, Blues, Folk, Punk, Rock

Most bands or artists have a specific genre that they fall into, but there is a certain artist that is so unique; there really is no-one like him. He is a little bit Rock n’ Roll, a little swing with some blues, and punk all mixed in. It's called Rockabilly. And I had the pleasure of talking with 3-time Grammy award winner Brian Setzer. He also is the founder and lead singer of the Stray Cats and of his 19-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra as a solo artist.

I spoke with Brian about his upcoming Christmas Rocks Tour, which has been a sell out for the last 13 tours. Finally, he is coming to Florida for 3 dates! Brian tells me that this all came about when he was asked to do a rock n’ roll version of a classic Christmas song Jingle All The Way for the movie,"Jingle All the Way," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. He says, It sounds easy to take a classic Christmas song and make it Rock, but it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. People would ask me all the time if I was going to take these songs on the road and with 19 people in the Orchestra, it was a challenge. But we ended up doing it and every year it snowballs and keeps getting bigger and bigger. And we keep it fresh by adding new things like some Stray Cat songs, which people always want to hear. And I do the hits and then break it down to a trio section. So every year it's a little different and I just love doing it. I love playing with a big band."

Brian says his secret to success is that he plays the music that he loves. He says, "I'm basically a rockabilly guitar player. You take what I do, which I love all styles of music, so I basically make a big bowl of chili when I play guitar, I throw in everything and at the end of the day, I think people really like that. They can tell if someone is playing something he loves and stays true to what he does. I've been lucky enough that I've dragged people along with me all these years that like what I do."

Brian has performed with many artists over his career and tells me about some of them that have stood out. He said, "I really enjoyed playing with Robert Plant, besides him being one of the nicest people you've ever met. It was really nice for me to be the Scotty Moore and play guitar and let Elvis sing cause Robert Plant is the Elvis of the modern era. So it was nice to not have to sing and have someone as fantastic as Robert take the reins. That was when I played with The Honeydrippers and that was a really fantastic time!"

The Smithsonian Institute called Brian and said, "We would like to collect your 1959 Gretsch "Stray Cat" guitar." Brian says, "They said those exact words and I guess if the Smithsonian wants to find you, they will! So I took it down there and played a couple of songs and than they took it away with white gloves and that gave me goosebumps. It was pretty amazing and will be there long after I am gone. And it's next to Lincoln's hat and Elvis's hot rod, they have everything there. It's a pretty amazing place!"

Brian was asked personally to induct Chet Aikens into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Brian said, "Chet was one of the great guitar players of the 20th century, and his son had asked me to induct him. At the end of it, his son gave me Chets thumb pick that he used, so that put me up on that kind of level, pretty high standards." Brian had met Chet in Nashville and Chet gave him a riff on a song called, "Let's Live It Up."

Brian has achieved much success so far in his career, along with being a 3-time Grammy award winner, he has also received the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award and has been cited as one of the world's greatest living guitarists; and has a best selling extensive line of Gretsch signature model guitars. Brian has also appeared in the 1987 film, LaBamba portraying rockabilly pioneer Eddie Cochran.

I asked Brian what his greatest musical accomplishment is to date and he said, "I think it was when I took the music that I love, which is Rockabilly music that nobody knew what it was. I was able to take that music and kinda dust it off and give it a fresh coat of paint, then all of a sudden it was a hit, everybody got it. When you see something and no-one else see's it and then you take that and make that into something special, that's what it's all about."

Check out Brian Setzer when he comes through Florida with The Brian Setzer Orchestra. They will be performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on November 28th and at Hard Rock Live in Orlando on November 30th. It will be a show that you won't want to miss for the holidays!

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