Setzer Swings into Classical with 'Wolfgang'

In the 1990s, The Brian Setzer Orchestra helped reinvigorate interest in swing music. Now Setzer turns to classical fare with his CD Wolfgang's Big Night Out.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Musician Brian Setzer is known for reviving older musical genres. In the 1980s, he revived the rockabilly sound with his band, the Stray Cats. In the '90s, he inspired a rebirth of swing with the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Now, he's turned to classical music.

(Soundbite of "Take the 5th" by Brian Setzer)

MONTAGNE: His new album: "Wolfgang's Big Night Out." Brian Setzer says the project got started when he was fooling around on his guitar at home playing the "Blue Danube".

Mr. BRIAN SETZER (Singer; Songwriter): And I came up with…

(Singing) Da, da, da, da, da.

And I thought, what about if I have a guitar answer that?

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Next, he started adding lyrics to some classical tunes like Edvard Grieg's "In The Hall of the Mountain King."

(Soundbite of song, "One More Night With You")

Mr. SETZER: (Singing) I don't need no movie car(ph), falling star, new, new guitar, the jukebox in a funky bar, and one more night with you.

MONTAGNE: Setzer takes the seriousness of classical music and flips it into catchy pop tunes. After all, he says, classical musicians like Mozart were basically the rock stars of their day.

Mr. SETZER: These guys were like big party boys, and I thought - this is kind of funny, I had this idea of all those guys out there partying so they - it's Wolfgang's big night out.

MONTAGNE: Which became the title for Brian Setzer's new album.

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