Stray Cats strut their brand of rockabilly revisionism

Rockabilly had all but died before a trio of big-haired kids from New York named Stray Cats injected new life into the genre in the Eighties with singles like "Rock This Town" and "(She's) Sexy + 17."

With rockabilly enjoying a resurgence in popularity, the Stray Cats are rocking again and strutting into the Zoo Amphitheatre on Friday.

"We helped preserve an important part of American music," said Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom. "Rockabilly was in the process of fading away. Now you just say, 'They kind of sound like the Stray Cats,' and everyone knows what you're talking about."

The band is hitting the road with ZZ Top and The Pretenders, two other musical heavyweights of the Eighties, which keeps the Cats on their toes, Phantom said.     
"With Chrissie Hynde looking great and singing great, well, we aren't going cold this tour," he said. "I'm not going to let Brian see me slow down, so I'm going to jump off my drum set. None of us want to be the first one to admit we're getting older."

Phantom isn't sure what the fate of rockabilly will be, but believes it has achieved a level of stability with the help of devoted fans.

"I remember when we started there was no scene, there were the three of us. We were the only rockabilly guys I knew. It was us against the squares," he said. "Things haven't really changed that much. We're still just three knuckleheads trying to comb their hair in one mirror."  "Charles Martin