Iconic guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and three-time Grammy-Award winner BRIAN SETZER and his 19-piece ORCHESTRA have announced the details for their 15th anniversary “Christmas Rocks! Tour,” presented for the fourth consecutive year by SiriusXM. Hitting 25 cities, the annual holiday extravaganza will come to Houston on Wednesday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, presented by Society for the Performing Arts (SPA).
“People tell me all the time what joy I bring them over the holidays,” says SETZER. “I don’t take this for granted. People don’t say something like that unless they mean it. When we get a standing ovation at the end of the Christmas show, it means something just a little extra.” See full Q&A below.
The group’s set list will feature music off their latest Christmas album ROCKIN’ RUDOLPH (available now as a limited-edition box set, CD, vinyl or download), plus music off their three previous best-selling holiday albums and original material from BRIAN SETZER. SETZER’s trademark guitar work and vocal stylings will be matched with his 19-piece orchestra’s rockin’ big-band horn arrangements, making for a reliably unbeatable combination. View the Christmas sizzle reel here: https://youtu.be/6NXEa29BMqk
BRIAN SETZER belongs to an elite group of artists who has had four super successful phases of his career from the Stray Cats, to solo albums, the Rockabilly Riot and BSO. The BSO show seamlessly encompasses music from all these phases. “The music I play in the big band is rock n’ roll with a jazz influence,” says SETZER. “What keeps it fresh is the quality of the players in the band. Also, a big part of keeping the big band fresh is the arrangements; writing the arrangement for 18-19 people is like writing a song within a song. It makes the song you might have heard many times sound new again.”
For the past three years (2015, 2016 and 2017), THE BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA has had a strong presence on SiriusXM during the holidays. They’ve performed exclusive invitation-only concerts for SiriusXM listeners in New York City and Los Angeles which aired on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country and Holly channels, a tradition that will continue this year.
Tickets are $30 – $90 and can be purchased online at www.spahouston.org, by phone at 713-227-4772 or at the courtyard level ticket office at Jones Hall located at 615 Louisiana St. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday–Friday. For groups of 10 or more call 713-632-8113. Prices are subject to change.
Q&A WITH BRIAN SETZER:
Congratulations on the 15th anniversary of the Christmas Rocks! Tour (on the heels of last year’s BSO 25th anniversary). It’s one of the longest running and biggest holiday tours. Why do you feel it is so successful?
Brian: “I realized when I started playing shows around Southern California, people wanted a rock-n-roll based holiday show. Being that Christmas music, in general, is more orchestral, a three or four-piece rock-n-roll band wouldn’t cut it. This is where my Big Band fit in perfectly. The mixture of my take on rock-n-roll and my new Big Band arrangements seemed to work magic on the audiences.”
What is the challenge of keeping it fresh, particularly for your fans who return year after year?
Brian: “Part of the reason people keep coming back year after year is that they know they will get a new show. They can expect new outfits, new props, and new arrangements of practically any song in any genre. The Christmas Rocks Tour has become such a tradition for people and their families that they come every year. Classic Christmas songs are very well written gems. It’s a real challenge to deconstruct some of these and make them my own. I can tell you it’s never boring playing them!”
Looking back, when did you realize the tour had real legs as an annual tour that could just keep on going?
Brian: “Once I realized the tour could make money taking 37 people, four coaches, two semi rigs, a full crew and two dogs on the road, I knew I was on to something!”
Sometimes it feels the world is so increasingly bleak, and then comes the return of the Christmas Rocks! tour which makes everything feel, if only for one night, like maybe we’re all gonna be OK. How does it feel to provide such joy for those two hours onstage?
Brian: “People tell me all the time what joy I bring them over the holidays. I don’t take this for granted. People don’t say something like that unless they mean it. When we get a standing ovation at the end of the Christmas show, it means something just a little extra.”
About Society for the Performing Arts
Founded in 1966, Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) is the largest independent non-profit presenting organization in the Southwest. Since its inception, SPA has sponsored more than 1,000 performances of the world’s finest music, dance and theater events, in adherence to the belief that the arts are fundamental to the overall enrichment and quality of life within the community. In addition to presenting artists, SPA seeks to provide a variety of learning experiences for adults and children through master classes, lectures and special student performances, as well as build relationships between the performing arts and other interests within the greater Houston area and throughout the state of Texas.
About Brian Setzer
Iconic guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and 3-time Grammy-award-winner BRIAN SETZER is a “Musician’s Musician” credited with continually taking chances with innovative and daring musical styles. Setzer is widely credited for taking two forgotten genres, rockabilly and swing, adding his own blend of gunpowder and rockin style, and completely reinventing and single-handedly resurrecting them in the process. Along the way, he has scored chart-topping hits, sold 13 million records and received the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award throughout his decorated career as founder/leader of the Stray Cats, his 19-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra, and as a solo artist. He is consistently cited as one of the world’s greatest living guitarists, and has a best-selling, extensive line of elite Gretsch signature model guitars bearing his name. BRIAN appeared in the 1987 film, La Bamba, portraying rockabilly pioneer Eddie Cochran. In 2002, BRIAN earned the privilege of being one of the few musicians to be animated in an episode of “The Simpsons.” That same year, SETZER was personally requested to induct Chet Atkins into the 17th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. SETZER had the honor of being invited in 2006 to perform at the White House for the President of the United States. In 2014, SETZER received the distinct honor of being asked by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. to donate a replica of his original 1959 Gretsch 6120 “Stray Cat” guitar, joining an elite collection of iconic treasures at the museum.