It’s easy for critical pop-culture watchers to write off Brian Setzer’s three decades-plus career as one of jumping bandwagons and embracing trends.
In the early '80s, Setzer and fellow Stray Cats Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker stormed the mainstream with hits “Rock this Town” and “Stray Cat Strut.” The New York-based threesome first found success in the U.K., where a movement for all things rockabilly was in full swing and an antidote of sorts to the Duran Duran/Spandau Ballet-led, synth and drum-machine heavy New Romantic movement, before striking platinum in their homeland with the 1982 full-length set “Built for Speed.”
As with many a retro movement, the Cats’ favor towards rock’s early days would be short-lived with the masses, and it would be more than a dozen years before Setzer's return to mainstream favor. Fronting his namesake big-band ensemble, Setzer traded the simplicity of a three-piece outfit for a full-blown swing Orchestra, albeit one that allowed him to strut his stuff on the guitar.
The Brian Setzer Orchestra already had eight years in its rearview mirror before their 1998 set, “The Dirty Boogie,” had listeners putting their flannels in mothballs and trading them for zoot suits. “Boogie’s” reign allowed for many a burgeoning young swing outfit – most notably Cherry Poppin; Daddies and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – to find success courtesy of Setzer’s mainstream breakthrough, and not, as some naysayers will lead you to believe, the other way around.
Like all genre revivals, the '00s saw the swing thing fall out of favor, yet Setzer has continued to find success, albeit on a smaller scale, with his orchestra. A decade ago, Setzer and Co. released their first holiday effort, “Boogie Woogie Christmas,” and have become an in-concert staple – and a mighty well-selling one at that - during pretty much every holiday season ever since.
The Brian Setzer Orchestra, 7 p.m. Nov. 23, The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, 777 Casino Center Dr., Hammond. $37 - $68.50. FYI: (800) 745-4000, HORSESHOEHAMMOND.COM
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For more information, contact the venues or ticket sales agencies listed below. Unless otherwise indicated, all shows are all-ages.
Band of Horses, Alabama Shakes, Dec. 2, Chicago Theatre (THECHICAGOTHEATRE.COM)
Ra Ra Riot, March 1, Metro (18 and older, METROCHICAGO.COM)
Public Enemy, Dec. 5, House of Blues (17 and older, HOB.COM)
Train, Dec. 14, Chicago Theatre (THECHICAGOTHEATRE.COM)
Trey Songs, Dec. 1, Arie Crown Theater (ARIECROWN.COM)
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes, March 22, House of Blues (17 and older, HOB.COM)
Dark Star Orchestra, Feb. 2, Vic Theatre (18 and older, JAMUSA.COM)
Third Eye Blind, Dec. 31, House of Blues (21 and older, HOB.COM)
The opinions expressed solely are those of the writer. Tim Shellberg can be reached at T.firstname.lastname@example.org.