Local Current Blog

Stray Cats, now one-third Minnesotan, to reunite in Vegas

Stray Cats, in a promotional photo from their early-1980s heyday. (EMI)

Brian Setzer will reunite with Stray Cats for the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend in April. It will mark the first time in nearly a decade the retro-billy trio will perform together in the United States.

Stray Cats formed in 1979 in upstate New York, inspired by 1950s rockabilly. The band were originally called the Tom Cats, and changed their name to Stray Cats when they moved to London. They were an instant success there, and were quickly picked up by Arista Records U.K.

The band repeatedly took their classic rockabilly sound up the charts in the 1980s, with four Top 40 hits including “Stray Cat Strut” and “Rock this Town.” The band eventually broke up to pursue other opportunities, but they have reunited quite a few times — including once in 2009, for Setzer’s 50th birthday party at the Fine Line Music Cafe.

Setzer is married to Julie Reiten, a singer from Minnesota; in 2005, the couple settled here permanently. In a 2013 interview with the Star Tribune, Setzer explained that “we were living in California, and we kept going back and forth to visit her family. I fell in love with the city and liked the whole Minneapolis scene.”

It’s apt that Setzer lives in Minnesota, given that one of Stray Cats’ formative influences was Albert Lea’s Eddie Cochran. Setzer occasionally pops up at local shows, like the 2016 Rock for Pussy David Bowie tribute at First Avenue. He just played the State Theatre in November 2017 with his Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend will take place April 19-22. Stray Cats will perform on the 21st, along with Jerry Lee Lewis and Duane Eddy.