Songs Inspire Setzer To Form ’68 Comeback Special

Tracks that didn't fit Brian Setzer Orchestra format spur ex-Stray Cats leader to form trio.

Before he revived big-band stylings with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, the eponymous bandleader was known to the world as the guitar-slinging frontman of stripped-down rockabilly trio the Stray Cats.

Now Setzer is returning to his roots. During a hiatus for the Brian Setzer Orchestra, the singer/guitarist will front the three-piece ’68 Comeback Special for an album and summer tour.

Setzer had written a bunch of songs that did not fit the big-band format of such albums as 1998’s Dirty Boogie and 2000’s Vavoom!, according to a management spokesperson. Setzer revisited demos of those songs in the fall and decided that he wanted to play them in a trio.

With the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s bassist, Mark Winchester, and drummer, Bernie Dressel, in tow, the band was booked in a couple of clubs on the West Coast. Setzer enjoyed it so much he decided to record the songs and tour in the summer, the spokesperson said. But he does not want to make a push for radio play and band promotion commensurate with that of the Setzer Orchestra.

The name ’68 Comeback Special refers to the televised spectacle that is viewed as having revitalized Elvis Presley’s career in music after a procession of mind-numbing B movies. Preparing for one of those shows in the autumn, Setzer noticed that the black leather trousers and jacket he was wearing evoked Presley. Presto — the band had a name.

The band will begin recording the album, which will be called Ignition, this week. It’s expected to be released June 12 on Surfdog Records, according to the spokesperson. A tour, which is expected to feature Setzer playing banjo and pedal-steel guitar, will run from June 15 through August 18.

’68 Comeback Special tour dates, as provided by band’s management spokesperson:


  • 6/15 – Saratoga, CA @ Mountain Winery
  • 6/16-17 – Lake Tahoe, CA @ Caesars Casino
  • 6/19 – Del Mar, CA @ Del Mar Fairgrounds (San Diego)
  • 6/20 – Phoenix, AZ @ Celebrity Theater
  • 6/22 – Boise, ID @ Big Easy
  • 6/23 – Missoula, MT @ Wilma Theatre
  • 6/24 – Spokane, WA @ Met Theatre
  • 6/26 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox
  • 6/27 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre
  • 6/28 – Jacksonville, OR @ Britt Fest
  • 6/29 – Kelseyville, CA @ Konocti Showroom
  • 7/11 – Westbury, NY @ Music Theatre
  • 7/13 – Atlantic City, NJ @ Caesar’s Casino (Brian Setzer Orchestra)
  • 7/14-15 – Atlantic City, NJ @ Caesar’s Casino (Brian Setzer Orchestra)
  • 7/19 – Hampton Beach, NH @ Hampton Beach Ballroom
  • 7/20 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Casino
  • 7/21 – Boston, MA @ Avalon Ballroom
  • 7/22 – Hyannis, MA @ Cape Cod Music Theatre
  • 7/24 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Laga
  • 7/25 – Cleveland, OH @ Odeon Club
  • 7/27 – Dayton, OH @ Courthouse Square (free show)
  • 7/28 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
  • 7/29 – Kansas City, MO @ Beaumont Club
  • 7/31 – Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
  • 8/1 – Beaver Creek, CO @ Vilar Theatre
  • 8/4 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre (Brian Setzer Orchestra)
  • 8/15 – San Mateo, CA @ San Mateo County Fair
  • 8/16 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Catalyst
  • 8/18 – Reno, NV @ Silver Legacy Casino