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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Brian Setzer confirms Stray Cats will return to Southern California next summer – Orange County Register

It’s been four long years since Brian Setzer last performed in front of a live audience.

Back in 2019, he was strutting his stuff out on the road and feeling pretty good with his rockabilly band Stray Cats, after reuniting with his longtime friends drummer “Slim Jim” Phantom and bassist Lee Rocker for the first time in a decade the year prior. Then he was diagnosed with tinnitus, ringing in the ears, shortly before the pandemic and was forced to take a break (along with the rest of the world).

“COVID really coincided with my ears crapping out on me,” Setzer said during a recent phone interview from his home in Minneapolis. “The doctors, they told me, ‘You can’t stand in front of an amp, you need to give these things time to heal.’ That break almost killed me. I’ve never not worked in my life, so instead I dove head first into writing.”

The result of those at-home sessions and endless guitar noodling was his 2021 solo album, “Gotta Have the Rumble,” which he was unable to support live on the road. With a fire still burning in him, he cranked out another album, “The Devil Always Collects,” which is out on Friday, Sept. 15 on Surfdog Records.

With two albums worth of new material to play and his ears healing, Setzer is hitting the road later this month for a limited run of shows. Though Stray Cats originally formed in New York in 1979 and relocated to the UK in the early ’80s, Setzer’s numerous solo tours and Stray Cats appearances have long enjoyed success in Southern California as the trio’s fanbase in the area remains strong.

But this time out, Setzer isn’t making it all the way to the West Coast.

“It took quite a while for the ears to recover,” he said of why he’s limiting the tour. “I’m never going to ‘beat it,’ but I’m well enough that I can play again.”

However, he did share that he will eventually make it out to Southern California.

“I’m going to give you the scoop since we’re having such a good time here, but Stray Cats are going to play next summer in California,” he said. “Nothing is booked yet, but that’s the plan we have.”

Until then, fans have these two solo albums to devour, on which Setzer said he felt he may have broken some new ground in the rockabilly vein on his guitar.

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