Some folks like Clapton; others go for Stevie Ray; some say Hendrix was the best; young upstarts like Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd also rock. I love 'em all, too, but my PGG (Personal Guitar God) will always be, forever and ever amen, Brian Setzer.
Awesome tats, Bri!
Most people remember Brian from The Stray Cats, and that's where I first came to love him. In the era of punk and New Wave, three skinny kids from New York shook things up a bit and introduced a revved-up version of rockabilly to kids who were born after rockabilly came and went. The Stray Cats split some time ago, but they still get together occasionally and rock the joint. One of my favorites was always this song, "Fishnet Stockings," maybe because I've been known to wear 'em once in a while.
Man, this guy can play. He amazes me. I even know that his favorite guitar is the Gretsch hollow body, and I know very little about guitars! Another thing I love about Brian is his voice and his vocal range. For the rockabilly songs, he's got that throaty, deep voice. For the slow ballads, he can do a falsetto. For the big band stuff, he can croon a tune as well as Frank or even Dino, and if I'm lyin' I'm dyin', pallie! No vocals here, just some awesome pickin' on "Black Mountain Rag." He looks like he's having a blast, and that's yet another thing I adore about him--he seems to LOVE what he does.
After The Stray Cats went splitsville, Brian did some solo stuff. I don't think he ever had any big hits with his solo releases, but it was all solid, bluesy rock. I'm not sure what Muse prompted him to blend his guitar-heavy sound with big band music, but it was a genius move, and perfectly timed with the resurgence of swing music. I got to see the Brian Setzer Orchestra open for Bob Dylan several years ago, and they really wail! They don't tour regularly now, because the swing thing kind of ended, but they still do Christmas shows, and I hope to get to see them again. Here's one of my favorites from the BSO, "Americano."
Brian also holds a special place in my heart because of a concert from a few years ago. Back in 2001, he had a band called '68 Comeback Special (an homage to The King), playing straight-up rock with a twangy, rockabilly edge. Ken and I were dating, and we went to Chicago to see Brian play at the House of Blues. During the day of the show, we went to Navy Pier and walked around. We rode the Ferris wheel, and when we got about a third of the way around, Ken proposed to me. Awwww! (I said yes, by the way.) It was pretty cool! We had dinner at the HoB restaurant, which enabled us to get in before the rest of the crowd. I was belly up to the stage...and right in front of Brian. I was just engaged, AND I was close enough to touch my PGG's boot! What a night! It was a helluva show, and the people around us were so much fun--we were all thrilled to be right up by the stage. One of the guys had met Brian in the hotel bar, and he was showing everyone the picture of him and Brian--he said Brian was really a nice and cool guy. We all had a blast! Brian played one of my all-time favorite songs, one that really shows off his amazing talent, and one that never fails to utterly and completely send me. Here is "Sleepwalk." Hallelujah... and Amen.