Friday, December 23, 2005

Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas concert: a mini-review

Hoping to blast any persistent images of stodginess, I share with you that my wife's and my Christmas present to each other was tickets to the Brian Setzer Orchestra's Christmas concert at the Jackson Casino in Jackson, California.

In a word, it was fabulous. Setzer is a master musician and a terrific showman. I dabble enough with a guitar to know that what he makes look so effortless is, in fact, impossible for normal mortals to do. When it comes to guitar artistry, Setzer is definitely "a man skilled in his work."

The allusion to Proverbs 22:29 is deliberate, because Setzer's skill demonstrates a Biblical principle praising hard, disciplined work. The word translated "skilled" in this verse could also be rendered "fast." The idea is that skill is evident when one has worked so hard and diligently at something that he makes it look easy, he can whirl through it with apparent ease belying the hundreds of hours of practice and study.

Setzer does everything he does with this silly grin, which broadcasts that he's having the time of his life, and that enthusiasm is infectious and uplifting. The atmosphere was electrified when he took the stage.

I have mixed feelings about his playlist. As a rule, and to put it mildly, I don't love Christless Christmas songs, and Setzer's are full of Santa and other myths and periphera. But then again, given his personna, do I really want him singing about a Lord in whom, as far as I know, he makes no profession of belief? One song mentioned Christ ("Angels We Have Heard on High"), and it was sung very well by his two female backup singers. They're known as the Vixens -- which kind of makes my point. On the other hand (is this the third hand?), I myself was pre-evangelized by carols about Jesus Christ, who is the real meaning of Christmas....

That aside, here's the main reason for even posting on Setzer. He "gets" what I think Laura Ingraham is saying in Shut Up and Sing. He said nothing about the economy. He said nothing about elections or politics, or the war in Iraq. (When he had a message board, I read one comment by him: that he gets on his knees every night and prays for the troops' safety, and for their soon return home.) Nobody bought a ticket to hear what Brian Setzer thinks about abortion or homosexual marriage. We paid money to see him do what he does like nobody else -- and he did it. That, and no more. He gave full money's worth, and beyond.

It'd be nice if others in the entertainment media would get the message too, and just shut up and sing.

UPDATE: James Taylor does not get the message.

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