By Kakie Urch
Ace Contributing Editor
If you are wondering if you should go to The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas concert December 7 at the Singletary Center, the answer is GO.
When I was a newspaper editor in Palm Springs, Brian Setzer lived in our coverage area, was one of our neighbors. So, every now and then, we’d have to get up a brief on him — Grammy nomination, performed for the Elvis-crazed leader of Japan at the White House, something small like that. Or, you’d run into him at the True Value, sleeveless shirt, tatts galore, with a cute 9-year-old in a Mohawk tagging along. Or the guys in the newsroom would tell you about him and Joe Strummer running up and down that “car commercial” highway on motorcycles and grabbing grub at the high elevation greasy spoon before coming down and going into the studio.
Of course, I had known and liked Brian Setzer’s music since the very first few weeks of MTV, when the Stray Cats’ debut was the best thing playing. And I’d heard the (not so rumory) rumors that when the top rock guitarists I loved need some help, they came down and TOOK GUITAR LESSONS from Brian Setzer.
But then came the Christmas party. Setzer always scheduled one of the last dates on the Christmas tour by his big band for the Palm Springs area. So, my very astute BF at the time decided that for the Christmas party for the employees of his company would be a pair of tickets to the show, a nice dinner at the luxury Indian casino where the show was being held and some gambling scratch.
I put on a short velvet dress with a crinoline and went. So here to testify: this ticket, if you at all like Christmas music, is so worth it. The show, which is always well-reviewed, is really just astounding — in musicianship, arrangement, execution, fun, hot women in Santa suits. Setzer’s guitar playing alone would be an experience, but he is a true bandleader on the stage, and it is clear that he only picked people with chops that can stand up to his. Number after number surpassed the one before, as “the best version of…” whatever Christmas tune was being played was offered up. Best Christmas party plan ever. Music so good didn’t really mind that very hot coworker hitting on the BF in front of me.
If you like Christmas music, guitar, big band, true ’50s rock sound, extraordinary musicianship and gals in high-heel red vinyl boots who can belt a tune, this is a great show and a nice present to get for some March Madness Marching Band lovin’, aging rocker with a heart, closet show tunes lovin’, Rat Pack acting, ironic trombone player friend. (And you know you have them).
Also, at this date, the Los Angeles burlesque duo Totsy is the opening act. (Their Christmas song is “Santa Likes Naughty Girls Too”) Featuring Beth Curry (Broadway work includes “Young Frankenstein” and “Legally Blonde”) and Brett Boyett (major Hollywood music worker), this act brings something extra to the show that Setzer has made the Rockettes show of the rock set.
So listen to your Auntie Mame and go.
Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza with Totsy, Fri. December 7, 7:30pm, Singletary Center for the Arts, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky. (Corner of Rose Street and Avenue of Champions – Euclid Avenue). $45-$65 859-257-4929 Singletary Center Tickets