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Brian Setzer set to run riot in Manhattan

Grammy Award-winning musician Brian Setzer with his signature

Grammy Award-winning musician Brian Setzer with his signature orange Gretsch guitar. Credit: Russ Harrington

Brian Setzer laughs at the idea that his latest album, "Rockabilly Riot!" (Surfdog), could do for rockabilly what the Massapequa native and his orchestra once did for big band music.

"Of course, I'd like to see that kind of music appreciated," says Setzer, calling from his Minnesota home. "I think people do. Will it become popular again? Put a bet on a 100 to 1 shot. I think it's about the same thing."

He says he's happy that enough people know about the album that he can go on tour with George Thorogood & the Destroyers to promote it, stopping at the Beacon Theatre Friday.

"I've managed to float on top of the seas, whether they're calm or choppy, whether the music is popular or not," Setzer says. "Luckily, it really hasn't affected me."


"Rockabilly Riot!" is a great album. It reminds me of early Stray Cats stuff.

I'm just trying to write good songs. . . . It's not by design. . . . It's kind of what happens. You record it and you hope that you catch the energy and a little bit of magic, really.


"Girl With the Blues in Her Eyes" is one of your best songs ever. Do you find it frustrating that more people don't get to hear it?

That's everybody's problem, really. There's so many good artists writing good songs. Times have changed in a way that, yeah, it'll never get heard. I'm going to try to get it heard at least on this tour.


How did this tour come about?

George came down to see the big band in Los Angeles. He said, 'Setzer, we gotta tour -- before we can't tour anymore.' . . . It makes perfect sense to tour with George. We did it once in '88. . . . It's hard for me to match up with people to play. I don't fit into a lot of categories.


What's it like having your guitar in the Smithsonian collection now?

It's American history. They've got 'The Star-Spangled Banner' there. They're going to have my guitar there? It was really kind of surreal. . . . They just really wanted my guitar in there. That's about that top. I can't think of something else that I can do to top it. There's nothing out there that will beat it, so I'm just going to keep doing what I enjoy doing.


WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway, Manhattan

INFO $55.50-$99.50; 800-745-3000,

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