Brian Setzer bringing Christmas cheer to the Rialto
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media November 13, 2013 6:04PM
The Brian Setzer Orchestra will perform at the Rialto Square Theatre on Nov. 21. | File photo
The Brian Setzer Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21, Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet. $39.50-$89.50. (815) 726-6600; rialtosquare.com
Updated: November 14, 2013 10:02AM
Brian Setzer is fine with you swinging to the beat at his Brian Setzer Orchestra show, but afterwards he recommends you go your own way.
“You have to do what you want to do and be yourself,” said Setzer about succeeding in the music business and in life. “There was no reason for me to start a rockabilly group, Stray Cats, and there was no reason for me to start a big band when the hits on the charts at the time were by Nirvana. The reason was, ‘I wanted to do it.’”
“It’s also important to not listen to other people,” Setzer continued. “With the Internet, everyone is a critic. On the Internet, a million people could criticize you. You can’t listen to that. You have to develop a tough skin. You have to stay on your own course. That’s what I’ve always done.”
Setzer had been staying on his own course for more than 30 years. He found success in the early 1980s as founder and leader of the rockabilly group Stray Cats, then rejuvenated his career in the 1990s with his swing band, The Brian Setzer Orchestra. He also has recorded and performed as a solo artist.
Along the way, Setzer has won three Grammy awards.
“I’m pretty proud of them,” said Setzer. “I had 13 nominations. If you don’t win, you’re still in the Top Five.”
Setzer also has found success in redefining Christmas music. The holiday concert at the Rialto Square Theatre on Nov. 21, part of the group’s 10th anniversary Christmas tour, will feature his 18-piece orchestra performing new takes on holiday classics as well as such hits as “Rock This Town,” “Stray Cat Strut” and “Jump, Jive and Wail,” among others.
Next year, the 54-year-old musician, singer and songwriter will record another rockabilly CD, with Mark Winchester on bass, Daniel Glass on drums and Kevin McKendree on piano.
“I have to get back to Nashville to record it,” said Setzer, who makes his home in Minneapolis. “All the guys live there. It is all written and arranged. We’ll probably record it in January or February, then release it sometime in 2014. I think I’m calling it ‘Nothin’ Is a Sure Thing.’ That is one of the songs on the CD. It will have 15 or 16 tracks. They are all original songs. I sat down and wrote 15 or 16 songs and I said, ‘These are all pretty good.’”
Setzer believes that his life in music has been pretty good and that he is doing what he was meant to do.
“I know I could not do what my dad did: construction,” he said. “He was up on scaffolding every day. That goes back to my great-grandfather, who did the same thing. They set marble on buildings. I really think I was put here to play music.”