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The Dukes of September Concert Reviews

"This is so much fun that there's the danger that the music will be like what they say about sex: We may be the only ones enjoying it." - MICHAEL McDONALD (fearing that reforming doo-wop supergroup DUKES OF SEPTEMBER with hitmakers BOZ SCAGGS and DONALD FAGEN may not be a big hit.)

 

Boz Scaggs + Donald Fagen + Michael McDonald = The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue

The players: Jon Herington, - lead guitar, Freddie Washington - bass, Jim Beard - organ, Michael White - drums, Walt Weiskopf - saxophone, Jay Collins - saxophone, Michael Leonhart - trumpet, Catherine Russell - backup vocals, Carolyn Leonhart-Escoffery - backup vocals
Set Lists

SOURCE

DATE OF ISSUE

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Oct. 03, 2010

L.A. Greek Theatre Review

Oct. 02, 2010

L.A Greek Theatre Lefsetz Review

Oct. 01, 2010

O.C. Register Review

Sept. 30, 2010

KC Confidential Starlight Review

Sept. 20. 2010

Pitch Music Kansas City Review

Sept. 20, 2010

KC Star Review

Sept. 19, 2010

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Sept. 16, 2010

 Milwaukee Riverside Theater Review

Sept. 16, 2010

Chicago Tribune Review

Sept. 12, 2010

Cincinnati PNC Pavilion Review

Sept. 10, 2010

Minnesota State Fair Review

Sept. 09, 2010

St. Paul Pioneer Press Review

Sept. 07, 2010

Minneapolis Star Review

Sept. 07, 2010

New Jersey PNC Review

Sept. 04, 2010

Boston Wang Theater Review

Sept. 01, 2010

Boston Globe Review

Sept. 01, 2010

Virginia Belmont Country Club Review

Aug. 27, 2010

Atlantic City Borgata Review

Aug. 26, 2010

Danbury, CT SoundSpike Review

Aug. 20, 2010

Fan Reviews

Aug. – Dec. 2010


Las Vegas Concert Review-Journal

Dukes have one cool jukebox

By Mike Weatherford / Las Vegas Review-Journal
Oct. 03, 2010

There’s range and there’s range. When it came to the playlist, no old guys are going to come up with a hipper mix tape for you than Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald, collectively performing as the Dukes of September Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel. They covered everything from Ray Charles’s “I’ve Got News for You” to The Band’s country-fried “Rag Mama Rag.”

Near the end, when Fagen introduced the very surprising cover of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air,” he said, “Bet you haven’t heard this one in a while!” The same could be said for about half the show.

But when it comes to vocal range? Eehhh … It was the last night of the tour, and even in their 30s, Fagen and McDonald never roamed the octaves beyond that one zone where their voices best nestle. The first half hour seemed a bit touch an go, with vocals mixed down low amid the crackerjack horn section and the two female backup singers, Catherine Russell and Carolyn Leonhart sounding so good they inadvertently made the lads seem even more strained.

After a while though, the sound guys boosted the levels and the gents seemed to hit their stride. It was cool that none of them left the stage when the others were singing, manning keyboards and guitar to augment the seven backing players. Scaggs proved the most valuable utility man. You would expect him to do Teddy Pendergrass’s “Love TKO” as adeptly as his own Disco Stu anthem “Lowdown.” But he stepped out of his svelte typecasting to take the lead on Mink DeVille’s “Cadillac Walk,” the O’Jays’ “Love Train” and even the Beach Boys’ “Help Me Rhonda.”

But the crowd was there to hear the hits — the three singers’ own hits. And that’s where this suddenly seemed like such a great idea, teaming three voices of one era who were so simpatico. Fagen’s “Green Flower Street” blended so well with Scaggs’ “Miss Son” and McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’” that it was like they all used to be in the same group back in the day, and this was their reunion.



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L.A. Greek Theatre Concert by IRM

Live Rock ‘n’ Soul: The Dukes of September at the Greek Theatre

By Devon Wendell / International Review of Music
Oct. 02, 2010

What happens when three rock n’ roll icons (Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs) team up to show their love for the soul, rock, and blues classics that have shaped their individual styles? You get The Dukes Of September Rhythm & Blues Band conceived by Fagen as a new version of his Rock & Soul Review of the 90′s.

Powered by the rhythm section that usually tours with Fagen when he’s fronting Steely Dan (John Herrington: guitar, Freddie Washington: bass, Michael White: drums) along with Michael Leonhart: trumpet, Walt Weiskopf: tenor sax, Jay Collins: tenor and baritone sax, Jim Beard: keyboard, Carolyn Leonhart and Catherine Russell: backing and lead vocals, the trio performed a diverse set that included Motown, Atlantic, Stax, and Philly soul hits, classic rock anthems, and material from their own collective projects.

The band kicked off the show with Don Covey’s “Sookie, Sookie,” which featured Catherine Russell and Carolyn Leonhart on lead vocals. It was apparent from the first few bars that this band was about fun and devotion as each band member soloed in a loose but well rehearsed manner.

After the opening number, Fagen, Scaggs, and McDonald entered the stage. Fagen sat at his piano and jokingly explained to the crowd, “We were going to call ourselves the ‘Three Old Hippies Rhythm Review’,” and quickly led the band in a delightful version of The Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street,” with Scaggs trading twangy blues guitar leads with Herrington.  Fagen’s vocal was eerily close to that of the late Jerry Garcia’s.  His singing has become slightly more tired and huskier, but in the delightful manner of an aging bluesman. His percussive jazz/gospel tinged piano playing never sounded stronger.

Fagen, McDonald, and Scaggs all performed a few spirited numbers from their own records: Fagen’s “Green Flower Street” and “I.G.Y. (What A Wonderful World)” from his solo album Nightfly; McDonald’s “I Keep Forgetting” and “What A Fool Believes”; and Scaggs’ “Lowdown” and “Miss Sun.” But it was the tributes to their vintage soul mentors that were the highlights of the evening.

Scaggs was especially powerful with a tight yet rollicking rendition of Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” which had Fagen playing the melody line on the melodica, along with McDonald playing accordion, and a smooth and melancholy reading of Teddy Pendegrass’s  “Love TKO.” Scaggs’ lazy yet sly vocals and tasty guitar style were a perfect match for these songs.

McDonald’s no-nonsense take on Ray Charles’s “I’ve Got News For You” was one of the most powerful performances of the evening.  He sounded as youthful as he did 30 years ago, vocally and on piano, though it was Catherine Russell (who dueted with McDonald on this number) who stole the spotlight with her church born, bluesy vocals.

Both Russell and Leonhart were amazing, adding unique background vocal texturing and taking the lead on a wealth of the material such as Leonhart’s confident version of Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” and Russell doing Muddy Waters’ “I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love.”  Scaggs’ Chicago blues guitar licks added to the fire of the Waters classic.

The ultra-precise thumbing bass lines by Washington that rode atop White’s in-the-pocket drumming added even more power to each number.  And the horn section, too, was flawless.  Though each of the three men brought their own distinctive sound to each performance, that one of a kind slick sound brought by Fagen’s band gave the feeling of Steely Dan playing hooky from school.  And it was apparent that the each band member was having as much fun as the enthusiastic audience as The Dukes continued with Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In The Years,” which featured masterful duel guitar harmonies by Harrington and Scaggs.

As the show got closer to the end, the energy level both on stage and off increased. This sentimental journey continued with the fitting “Love Train” by The O’Jays. Scaggs lead the band through the verses, and all three men gleefully gave it their all on the timeless chorus.

But the most fascinating moments of the evening happened during the group’s long encore, which started with an amazingly original take on The Beach Boys’ “Help Me Rhonda.” The horn section’s bouncing hooks gave the impression of Count Basie covering The Beach Boys, swinging their way from Kansas City to Southern California. McDonald played some very impressive ukulele.

The most heartfelt performance was Fagen singing Thunderclap Newman’s “Something In The Air,” a song of revolution and change.  His vocal had the same nasally tone as John “Speedy” Keen’s on the original. The feeling of nostalgia and joy was felt with every nuance on this flower-power era hit.  The band ended with a no-frills rendition of The Band Of Gypsys’ “Them Changes,” in which Harrington played a fiercely original guitar solo without mimicking Hendrix’s style on the most well known recording of this rocking soul anthem.

The Dukes of September kept it simple at The Greek Theater.  Three music legends paid tribute to the music closest to their own hearts and the audience’s with sincerity, devotion, and most of all, fun.



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L. A. Greek Theatre Concert Review by Lefsetz Letter

The Dukes Of September

Bob Lefsetz / Lefsetz Letter
Oct. 01, 2010

HEIGHTY HI

Muddy Waters played "What Now America".

The music business mantra is repetition.  People have to hear it enough to love it, you’ve got to beat it into their brains.  Then there are tracks you hear once and you can’t forget them, and need to hear them again to save your soul.  That’s how I felt about "What Now America".  I borrowed the album from Muddy, who’d already achieved this moniker even though freshman year had just begun.  I’d drop the needle and listen to "What Now America" again and again.  The intimacy was like a late night phone call from your best friend, when people were more interested in exchanging stories, making a personal connection, than making money.

The next time I was in the metropolis, I bought "Barrel".  And then "Recital".  And "Lee Michaels".  I was reveling in the entire catalog of this guy who’d never had a hit, but was suddenly a giant in my world.

"The War" on "Recital" was as good as "What Now America".  There was that same intimate feeling.  But "Heighty Hi" was something completely different, like we’d all had too many beers, were a bit woozy and the band got up on stage and started to play.

And that’s exactly what the Dukes Of September’s rendition of Lee Michaels’ classic last night was like.

It’s great enough when a band reaches down deep and plays a cover of a song that only you thought you loved, but when they knock it out of the park you feel this inner spark, this elation that’s the essence of life.

DON’T MESS UP A GOOD THING

The classic rock artists raped and pillaged in the seventies, went on tour in the nineties and early twentieth century at exorbitant prices for boomer listeners who wanted to relive their youth, now what?

It’s creepy to see the oldsters trot out the warhorses one more time.  It’s like being sentenced to an endless "Groundhog Day".  Like being in college forever.  At some point, you want to graduate and get on with your life.

But this is illegal in the rock world.  You can’t take a risk, your audience can’t handle it.  You can’t even age.  You’ve got to get plastic surgery and diet down to look like a twentysomething when the audience is now round and lined and nothing like you.  It’s like a living "Sunset Boulevard".  And now the audience has moved on.  They’ve seen the Stones.  They’ve heard the hits.  They want something new.

The Dukes Of September is something new by people who are old.

It’s Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs and Donald Fagen fronting nine associated players in a motherfucking soul band.  It’s like famous artists came to your wedding or Bar Mitzvah.  Sure, they’ll play a few hits, but you want to hear your favorites, you want to rock out, you want to have a good time, you want to have a party.

RAG MAMA RAG

Hail stones beatin’ on the roof
The bourbon is a hundred proof

Well, it wasn’t exactly hail, but the chain lightning had dumped a copious number of raindrops upon the assembled multitude, but eventually stopped. No one left.  We endured the elements to hear this classic Band tune along with "The Shape I’m In".

Michael McDonald is tinkling the ivories, everybody’s in a race, trying not to be left behind.

It was pure joy, out in the audience tinkling our air pianos.  Robbie Robertson may have retired, but that doesn’t mean the music has to die.  These songs can come alive, if someone just dedicates themselves, puts in the energy.

CADILLAC WALK

O.K., we all know the Band, but how many in the audience have even heard of Mink DeVille, never mind this nugget?

Actually, you’d be surprised how many in the audience would know the now deceased king of cool.  But I bet many in attendance thought this was a Boz Scaggs original, because he owned it.

REELIN’ IN THE YEARS

Okay.

Michael McDonald is the prematurely grey, now white-haired singer of MOR songs that made the girls swoon.

All of that may be true, but he’s also a MUSICIAN!  He was a reluctant frontman.  He started out as a sideman.  Last night he played not only the keys, but the ukulele.  He reminded you of that kid in high school, who lived to play music.  He was never the singer, but every band you went to see, he was in. Sometimes playing lead, other times the bass, even the drums, adding perfect backup vocals.

Yes, Michael sang "What A Fool Believes".  But I was even more thrilled that he did "I Keep Forgettin’"…  That came out just when I’d broken up with my live-in girlfriend, I kept forgettin’ that we weren’t in love anymore, except that we were, we just couldn’t live together, I listened to the tunes to get me through.

But the killer, the piece de resistance, was "Takin’ It To The Streets".

Michael had now been fully integrated into the Doobie Brothers.  But this was a transitional album, "Minute By Minute" was still years away.  But suddenly, this aged audience was on its feet, shaking its collective fist at a country that seems to have broken free of its grasp.  Yes, as we seem to near the apocalypse, only music will keep us sane.

Boz seemed like he didn’t want to be there, like he was punching the clock.  John Herington was playing most of the leads.  Boz wasn’t shucking and jiving.  But when he stepped up to the microphone, I swooned.  That voice!  Those notes he picked!  He’s got style, he’s got feel!  Sure, he eventually played "Lowdown", he subtly stole the night, but what stunned me was I’d given up on seeing him, I’d been there and done that, this one appearance reinvigorated my interest in him.

And then we come to Donald Fagen.

He was having fun.  He didn’t say much, but when he did he questioned our sensibilities.  He waited for silence, then turned to the audience and asked "What’s new?"  As if he was an old college buddy and wanted to catch up.  After we laughed, he said he heard it had been hot.  Which elicited further laughter that only an Angeleno who’s been in town this week can understand.

"I.G.Y" was a triumph.  But "Reelin’ In The Years" made us smile, recalling who we once were, and who we now are.

But what impressed me most was Donald’s elation.  At one point he was pounding the keys and he had his feet in the air under the piano like a six year old.  I know, I’ve been there, I’ve done that.

That’s what’s great about music.  When done right, you can throw off all convention, be the child basking in purity, having fun.

LOVE TRAIN

But it was the covers that made the night.

I bet almost no one in attendance owned an O’Jays album.  But we all know "Love Train".  Because back before every car had an FM radio, never mind an iPod input, we were exposed to all kinds of music on the AM dial that we came to love.

And to hear this powerhouse unit perform "Love Train" was to experience a cannonball express.  A train asks no questions, it has no doubts, it pulls out of the station, gains momentum and just HUMS!

HELP ME RHONDA

There were music stands everywhere.  After all, most of these tracks were not part of the performers’ usual repertoire.

But in an age where acts use teleprompters to sing THEIR OWN songs, Boz Scaggs strode up to the mic and sang "Help Me Rhonda" by heart.

Just like us.

It was not like seeing Mike Love or Brian Wilson.  This was not nostalgia, this was like going to the high school dance, except the band was really damn good.

THEM CHANGES

I found out about this tour from a reader.  How fucked up is that?

There’s no Website, no big hype, it’s a secret.  And that’s a mistake.

This is the future.  Unless you’re planning to die young, you just can’t repeat what you’ve done in your heyday forever, you’ve got to grow.  Isn’t that what Dylan taught us?

Michael McDonald can play to dwindling audience, same with Boz, Fagen can reunite with Walter Becker and overcharge to hear live renditions of some of the most exquisite recordings ever, but demand is not going to increase.  We’ve been there and done that, those of us who care anyway.  But the Dukes Of September is something completely different!  This is like Jimmy Buffett.  Something to come back to every summer.

No one left early.  Everybody had a good time.  Based on my e-mail from others in attendance, everyone was lifted up, everyone felt they’d experienced something that normally eludes them, a celebration of the power of music, our music.

Every week they should release a live cover on iTunes.  Not because the tracks would sell, but because the story would be big and it might reach the audience.  The group should continue to work regularly, like the Allman Brothers, honing their chops, mesmerizing audiences to where they come back like sheep, like lemmings, where they don’t think about it, they just go to the show.

It was impossible to be at the Greek last night and shrug your shoulders and be unimpressed.  You nodded your head, you shook your booty, and eventually stood up and clapped and sang, you couldn’t help yourself, the sound was just that powerful.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR

Call out the instigators
Because there’s something in the air

Now most people know Thunderclap Newman’s "Something In The Air" because of its inclusion in "Almost Famous", because of Tom Petty’s cover.  But once upon a time, in the spring of 1970, it was a record that got occasional play on FM radio.  Very occasional.  One listen was enough to hook you.

And on the very first weekend of my college career, on Saturday night they bused us all up to Middlebury’s Bread Loaf campus for a dance, where we could mix and mingle with the other freshmen.

How depressing.  The music is blaring.  You barely know anybody, you’re desirous of knowing everybody, but you just can’t achieve this.

There was a cover band from Boston.  Going through the motions for an unappreciative audience.

Suddenly, they broke into "Something In The Air".

Literally seems like yesterday that I went up to the soundman and asked him who did the original.  In the ensuing discussion he gave me the headphones, so I could hear the mix.

On the bus back I did my best to connect with a woman who I wasn’t that interested in but who was even less interested in me.

And there you have my college career.  Unsatisfying female encounters and a lot of music.

I bought Thunderclap Newman’s "Hollywood Dream" on the first college break.  I downloaded it from Napster.  It’s not famous because of its sales, but because of its music.  And when the Dukes Of September broke into their rendition of "Something In The Air" I was completely surprised.  Shouldn’t they be doing something less obvious, that they can own?  No!  Because they weren’t interested in demonstrating how hip they were, but playing some of their absolute favorites, figuring they were some of our absolute favorites too.

Lock up the streets and houses
Because there’s something in the air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here, and you know it’s right
And you know that it’s right

We stopped a war.  They say music can’t change the world?  They’re wrong.

But now we go to Vietnam as tourists.  The war is a deep memory.  But the music lives on.

We experienced a revolution.  When the most important thing you could do, the most dangerous path you could follow, was to be a musician.

Players were not in bed with Fortune 500 companies, corporations couldn’t take the risk.  And first and foremost, the artists needed to be unfettered, they needed to do it their way.  The record labels signed ‘em and then got out of the way.  And these acts were so good, we still want to see them decades on.

It’s a symbiotic relationship.  A star is nothing without his fans.  And we fans need something to invest our hopes and dreams in.

We’ve lived long enough to know our heroes are only human.

But somehow, the music is not.  The music is godlike.  Created in fits of passion, moments of genius, the music both embodies humanity and transcends it.  Not made to be consumed and then disposed of, these great songs radiate forever.  Michael, Boz and Donald created some of them.  But, just like us, they’re fans of so many they didn’t.  Music is not a contest, the people creating competition TV shows, giving out awards, are not the players.  Artists are brothers.  In it together.  They want to revel in the greatness of each other’s work.  They want to live inside the music, they want that high only music can provide.

And so do we.



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O.C. Register Concert Review

Big fun from the Dukes of September in L.A.

By BEN WENER / The Orange County Register
Sept. 30, 2010
 
Ardent Danheads know these details well, but for anyone else to understand how the sheer joy of Wednesday night’s performance from what’s called the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue came to be -- and seemingly sell out the Greek Theatre -- a quick refresher might help:

Nearly two decades ago, shortly before Steely Dan regrouped and finally became a regularly touring entity, Donald Fagen -- with help from his future wife, singer-songwriter Libby Titus -- concocted a series of club dates for a first-rate troupe of musicians plus guest stars. Under Fagen’s direction, and relying on his deep knowledge of old R&B chestnuts, the ensemble rummaged through the past (both their own and that of their influences) for setlists that spanned nuggets from Etta James to Eddie Floyd, the Temptations to the late Charles Brown, an occasional participant and the originator of the holiday staple “Merry Christmas Baby.”

They called this entity the New York Rock and Soul Revue, and though their series of shows ran only sporadically from 1989-93, a compilation of their finest moments was recorded across two nights in March 1991 at the Beacon Theatre and released the following year. (Much to the delight of Dan fans, by the way, who hadn’t heard anything from Fagen -- or his partner Walter Becker, for that matter -- since his celebrated concept album from 1982, The Nightfly. It was via these shows, in part, that the duo got the notion to revive Steely Dan.)

The roster boasted quite an array: Boz Scaggs turned up to sing “Drowning in the Sea of Love” … Phoebe Snow got funky on “Shakey Ground” … Michael McDonald cried his way through the Jackie Wilson hit “Lonely Teardrops” and added his where-did-you-get-those-shoes? bit to the Dan classic “Pretzel Logic” … everyone, including the Brigati brothers, joined in on the Rascals’ “People Got to Be Free” near the end. It’s a snazzy disc. From Warner Bros. Look it up.

Either that, or start holding out hope that one of these Dukes of September shows sees the light of day on DVD or such, for after years of returning to the pleasures of its predecessor, and then taking in Wednesday’s marvelously crowd-rousing set at the Greek, I’d argue that this new incarnation is even more powerful, diverse and delightful to watch. By comparison, after a half-dozen mostly great Steely Dan gigs -- at which Fagen has been agreeable but all business -- I was stunned to see such a seeming curmudgeon having the time of his life, clearly caught up in the thrill of revisiting favorite songs from his salad days as well as the robust interplay he’s currently enjoying by teaming night after night with Scaggs and McDonald, who help spearhead this group.


What a treat, too, to view them not just as spotlight stars but as players in a band. Scaggs, for instance, though never slouching, was nonetheless content to leave much of the soloing to regular Dan guitarist Jon Herington, his tone like a grittier version of Larry Carlton’s fluid approach. Even on his own songs (“Miss Sun,” “Lowdown,” his take on the late Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO”), Boz tended to lay back and merely finesse a few bars; it was more gripping to observe the exactness of the doubled arpeggios he and Herington zipped through together during “Reelin’ in the Years” late in the evening.

McDonald came off as the group’s MVP utility player, shifting off his standard keys to pick up accordion for a jaunt through Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” and strumming banjo for a fun reading of the Band’s “Rag Mama Rag,” which perfectly suited Scaggs’ buttery Texas tone. Another Robbie Robertson composition followed, with McDonald heartily hollering his way through “The Shape I’m In” with nearly the same soulful force that he brought to his own Doobie Brothers classic “Takin’ It to the Streets” and a roaring handling of Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes.” (By the way, at other stops they’ve also tacked on a third Band cut, “Caledonia Mission,” all of them in a row, and all the more interesting given the six degrees of separation between songs and performers: Titus, whom Fagen wed in 1993, was once with the Band’s Levon Helm; their daughter Amy now plays in dad’s barn-busting revue and fronts her own group, Ollabelle.)

Until the last blast of the two-hour-plus set, Fagen more or less kept to the shadows, stepping to center-stage only now and then, whether to blow melodica as eccentrically as he sings (as the years go on he more and more embodies the skeevy-cool voice of “Cousin Dupree”) or to revive the brilliant retro-futurism of “I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year),” its wistful promise of a better tomorrow as prescient as ever. Another Nightfly track, “Green Flower Street,” was wickedly smokin’ earlier in the evening, but that moment, as with his rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street,” found him gleefully slapping at a grand piano -- for me, the real treat of the night, hearing him add jazzy interludes and New Orleans razzle-dazzle to so many great songs.

No, the setlist wasn’t overly stuffed with their own hits, which comprised about half the show and helped bolster the finish. I suppose some in the audience were let down by that, and probably wished the proceedings weren’t turned over at different points to backing vocalists Carolyn Leonhart (strong on Aretha’s “Rock Steady”) and Catherine Russell (exceptional on the Muddy Waters/Willie Dixon number “I Live the Life I Love”). But I couldn’t have cared less -- “Peg” and “Lowdown” were swell, superbly played as expected, but the bits that blew me away were the unexpected choices, like a take on the Beach Boys’ “Help Me Rhonda” that infused it with much more ’50s stroll and a magnificent handling of the early-’70s Thunderclap Newman anthem “Something in the Air.”

That last song -- buoyed by its warming, we-have-got-to-get-it-together sentiments -- along with “I.G.Y.,” “Takin’ It to the Streets,” the terrific uplift of the O’Jays’ “Love Train” and more, seemed to deepen what at surface level would appear to be strictly nostalgia. Instead, here were three baby boomer icons, ranging from 58 to 66, rummaging through the past not merely to keep certain songs from getting coated in cobwebs but to remind that the idealism of the ’60s isn’t dead by far -- even for a misconstrued cynic like Donald Fagen. Like the man sings, what a beautiful world this will (still) be, what a glorious time to be free.

The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue featuring Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs at the Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, Sept. 29, 2010
Main set (with originators): Sookie Sookie (Grant Green) / Heighty Hi (Sam Moore) / Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing (Gregg Allman) / Shakedown Street (Grateful Dead) / You Never Can Tell (Chuck Berry) / I’ve Got News for You (Ray Charles) / Green Flower Street (Fagen) / Miss Sun (Scaggs) / I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) (McDonald) / Rock Steady (Aretha Franklin) / Rag Mama Rag (The Band) / The Shape I’m In (The Band) / Love TKO (Teddy Pendergrass) / I Live the Life I Love (Muddy Waters/Willie Dixon) / Cadillac Walk (Mink DeVille) / What a Fool Believes (The Doobie Brothers) / I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year) (Fagen) / Lowdown (Scaggs) / Takin’ It to the Streets (The Doobie Brothers) / Reelin’ in the Years (Steely Dan) / Love Train (O’Jays)
Encore: Help Me Rhonda (The Beach Boys) / Peg (Steely Dan) / Something in the Air (Thunderclap Newman) / Them Changes (Buddy Miles) / Sookie Sookie (Reprise)

Photos by Armando Brown, for The Orange County Register.
©Copyright 2010 Freedom Communications. All Rights Reserved.




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KC Confidential Starlight Review

Edelman: What a Fool Believes He Sees… at Starlight

By Mark Edelman
September 20th, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 18, 2010

What a beautiful world it will be.. what a glorious time to be free.

Yeah, the sarcasm can get pretty deep when Donald Fagen’s sardonic self strides to the microphone and unleashes his  weltschmerz-laden playlist on the usual gang of old fogies (me included). Happily– and quite unexpectedly– that side of the Steely Dan Man was little in sight Saturday night, at Starlight. As he pranced happily about the stage, even the thunder and lightning gods couldn’t chill the bon temps Donald and fellow Dukes of September Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs poured onto a soaking wet crowd of around 3,000. The place was positively giddy by evening’s end.

I guess Fagen just likes to play– and what 60+ guy wouldn’t trade a night building the Andrea Doria out of balsa wood for the chance to wail some great old rock tunes with a back up band and singers this tight and hot? This is not his first foray into gigging without bandmate Walter Becker. He did it back in the 90s with the New York Rock and Soul Revue, which featured some of these same talents, along with songstress Phoebe Snow and Eddie Brigati from the Young Rascals.  It sounded great then; it sounded great Saturday night.

I, for one, was glad to hear Fagen back in the saddle, an opinon probably not shared by some crowd members intent on hearing Side One of Aja. Still, for those willing to wait out the rain and some truly classic rock and roll (i.e. pre- Aerosmith), some artist faves made the set list. I’ve seen Steely Dan four times now, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard them play “IGY” (the above-cited lyric) from Fagen’s first solo effort, 1982’s Nightfly. It was worth the wait;  the guy next to me agreed,  crowing about his $130 tickets “that one song is worth the price of admission”.

Boz Scagg’s plaintive vocals made everything he sang sound soaked in really good gin and vermouth, including his funky standard “Lowdown.” And Michael McDonald’s oh so mellow baritone reminded everyone in the crowd why “What a Fool Believes” and “Taking it to the Streets” were the Doobie’s most memorable contributions to the repertoire.

Yeah, I guess they could have played more Steely Dan tunes– it would have been great to hear McDonald sing back up to Fagen again, like he did on Katy Lied, Aja and so many other wonderful recordings. And, yeah, I got there after the big rain and didn’t have to pay the cover (the concert reviewer’s great conceit). But when Fagen, Scaggs and McDonald (sounds like a downtown law firm, no?) launched into the O’Jay’s “Love Train” and the crowd smiled and clapped in delirious unison– the rain picking that moment for an encore of its own– I guess you could say it didn’t matter what songs we’d missed, what refrains we’d have to wait for until the next time.  Call me a fool, but I believe what I see.

Pitch Music Kansas City Review

Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs at Starlight: The Monsters of Yacht

By David Hudnall
Sept. 20, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 18, 2010

​A half-hour in on Saturday, at Starlight, the Monsters of Yacht -- Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, plus nine touring musicians -- launched into "Green Flower Street," the second track off Fagen's 1982 solo album, The Nightfly. It was the first Fagen-penned tune of the night, and for the Fagen/Steely Dan nerds in the house, hearing that groovy keyboard intro was like celebrating your birthday on Christmas morning. (In theory, you would get double presents.)

I experienced actual goosebumps. Then a great storm swept down and threatened to ruin everything.

Somehow I had never even considered the possibility that something as stupid as the weather could prevent me from seeing a show I'd looked forward to all summer. But there it was: thunder, lightning, a monsoon of water swooshing through the amphitheatre. The crowd fleeing toward the roofed walkway on stage right. Me, arms folded, despondent, soaked, dead eyes staring straight ahead as the band exited the stage.

Prior, the set had been mostly composed of the old-school R&B and soul covers that inspired the three of them to put together the band and tour in the first place. We went in knowing they'd play those songs; the question -- for me, at least -- was how many, and when do we get to hear songs from Silk Degrees and The Nightfly and If That's What It Takes. They started out with three oldies in a row -- "Sookie Sookie," "Heighty Hi," "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing" -- and then funked their way into "Shakedown Street," a Grateful Dead song that I've always thought sounding like a Steely Dan song. It was smooth as hell. By the time they played "Green Flower Street," I was in the zone, as excited as I've been at a show all year.

To say the storm came as a disappointment, then, would be a horrible understatement. And oh, what a mean, nasty rain it was. We waited it out in a covered area. I hazarded out for a beer and stepped in a giant puddle, soaking my foot all the way through, Groundhog Day-style. People checked the Doppler on their iPhones. I chugged angrily at my beer and stewed. Can't I just have this one thing? I have so little!

And then: The rain let up.  And then: A man walked across the stage to the mic and told us the band was coming back. And then: I bumped into my cousin, who had $130 seats -- fifth row, stage left, right in front of Fagen -- and told me there were two empty seats next to him. So me and my cuz and my boy Lil Scoopies -- my Steely Dan life partner, who introduced me to Catalyst: The Original Recordings (1968-71) [import] -- creeped down and enjoyed the rest of the show a first down away from Donald Fagen, our mutual hero.

We didn't get everything we wanted, but we got enough, and there were some pleasant surprises along the way. What on paper would have sounded boring to me -- only one Steely song, and it's "Reelin' in the Years"? WTF? -- was brought to life live by a flawless touring band and the charisma and impeccable taste of the stars of the show. I would not, for example, have anticipated that Scaggs' silky vocals on Teddy Pendergrass' "Love TKO" would be the high point of the evening. Or that the McDonald Husk would sound so right on the Band's "The Shape I'm In."  

Never in a million years would I have expected Fagen, rock's most notorious misanthrope, to be so enthusiastic. Dressed in a loose black sportcoat and sunglasses, he introduced the songs, made small talk, and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. On Willie Deville's "Cadillac Walk," he wandered the stage like a mad scientist, gleefully blowing into a melodica. Lurched behind his Steinway, his hands leaping high up in the air and plunking down at the keys, he looked like some spooky house pianist on an episode of The Twilight Zone. I even caught him smiling a few times. My god, it was thrilling.

The encore kicked off with the Beach Boys' "Help Me, Rhonda," and toward the end of the song the light rain that had settled in over the previous half-hour grew stronger. A stage tech ran up and said something to Scaggs. Scaggs turned and lifted his hand to his neck, making the "cut" sign to Fagen -- their time was up, it seemed. Fagen perked up, toweled off his face, and shook his head. He pointed down at his piano and raised a finger. He wanted to do one more. Lightning lit up the sky to the east, the rain blew sideways, and the band played on.

Highlights:

*McDonald's extended piano intro to "Takin' It to the Streets."
*Scaggs' vocal fills on "Lowdown." At one point he replaced the word "lowdown" with "You know what I'm talkin' about."
*"I.G.Y."

The Crowd: Old and sitting down. Section C on stage right was where the party was -- they got out of their seats and actually danced for the last half of the show. I wasn't as lucky over in Fagen territory. When we snuck down to the expensive seats, the guy in the row behind me tapped my shoulder and smugly noted that he thought it odd that before the storm a different person was sitting in my seat, but now I was sitting there. "Are these your seats?" I asked. No, they weren't his seats, but his date couldn't see as well anymore. It was about to get nasty but the date intervened and he dropped it. Still, I was reluctant to stand and dance for fear he'd sic security on me.

Regrets: Not giving that dork a wedgie. Can you believe he said that to me?

Note: Persons with photopasses were only allowed to take pictures during the first four songs. I did not know this, and the stage security guys did not find me in any way charming when I ventured down around song six. Also, I am terrible at taking pictures.

Setlist:

Sookie Sookie, Heighty Hi, Don't Mess Up A Good Thing, Shakedown Street, You Never Can Tell, I've Got News For You, Green Flower Street, Miss Sun, I Keep Forgettin', Rock Steady, Rag Mama Rag, The Shape I'm In, Love T.K.O., I Love The Life I Live, I Live the Life I Love, Cadillac Walk, What A Fool Believes, I.G.Y., Lowdown, Takin' It To The Streets, Reelin' In The Years, Love Train, Help Me Rhonda, Them Changes



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KC Star Review

Set list isn't what the audience ordered from Dukes of September Rhythm Revue

Bill Brownlee / Special to The Star
Photos by Susan Pfannmuller / Special to The Star
Posted on Sun, Sept. 19, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 18, 2010



Michael McDonald, former Doobie and now a Duke of September.

Artistic license clashed with audience expectations Saturday, at Starlight Theatre.

The three stars of the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue -- Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs -- delivered impeccable renditions of 22 songs. Yet they weren't necessarily the selections the audience of approximately 3,500 wanted to hear. It was a music obsessive's paradise and a casual classic rock fan's nightmare.

A reading of "The Shape I'm In" exemplified the conundrum. McDonald's vigorous lead vocals on the nugget by the Band were delightful. The vast majority of the audience, however, would have preferred that McDonald had sung hits like "Yah Mo B There," "What a Fool Believes" or "Minute by Minute" instead. Most didn't anticipate hearing obscurities like Willy DeVille's "Cadillac Walk" when they spent $40 to $130 per ticket. And they probably didn't expect that "Reelin' In the Years" would be the sole song by Fagen's Steely Dan on the setlist.
 

Donald Fagen

At least every song was performed in the sleek style associated with Steely Dan. The 12-piece aggregation played with grace and precision. Among the band's notable members were accomplished jazz saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and the tasteful guitarist Jon Herington.

Their shimmering efforts were captured in a perfect sound mix. Still, the band's immense technical talent didn't always work to their advantage. A reading of a blues associated with Muddy Waters, for instance, was more appropriate for a penthouse suite than a gritty roadhouse. The members of the band were simply incapable of playing without refined elegance. That doesn't mean, however, that they lacked soul.

Boz Scaggs' wonderful rendition of "Love T.K.O." overflowed with anguish. A memorable reading of "Takin' It To the Streets" began with a delicate piano solo and ended in gospel fervor. A creative overhaul of Buddy Miles' "Them Changes" was refreshing. The audience responded as if Aretha Franklin was on stage as Carolyn Leonhart delivered "Rock Steady."

Not every cover worked as well. While delightful, McDonald's duet with Catherine Russell on "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing" was entirely derivative. The Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street," The O'Jay's "Love Train" and The Beach Boys' "Help Me, Rhonda" were as pleasant as they were pointless.
 

Boz Scaggs

When heavy rain briefly halted the concert 40 minutes into the show, McDonald's "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" was the only big original hit the audience had heard. Most sat motionless as each unlikely song was rendered. Polite applause was gradually replaced by disgruntled murmuring and shouted requests between songs.

Well into the second half of the concert, a collective sigh of relief greeted the opening strains of "What a Fool Believes," the soothing funk smash McDonald sang with the Doobie Brothers. It was followed by an energetic rendition of Fagen's "I.G.Y." and Scaggs' timeless hit "Lowdown." The latter song was received like manna from heaven from the hit-starved audience. Most fans rose to dance for the first time.

Had the band not seemed intent on delivering a well-intentioned music lesson, the entire concert could have been a rapturous dance party. While Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs seemed to be having the times of their lives, most of the audience only partially participated in their celebration.

SETLIST: Sookie Sookie; Heighty Hi; Don't Mess Up A Good Thing; Shakedown Street; You Never Can Tell; I've Got News For You; Green Flower Street; Miss Sun; I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near); Rock Steady Rag; Mama Rag; The Shape I'm In; Love T.K.O.; I Love The Life I Live, I Live the Life I Love; Cadillac Walk; What A Fool Believes; I.G.Y.; Lowdown; Takin' It To The Streets; Reelin' In The Years; Love Train; Help Me, Rhonda; Them Changes; Sookie Sookie.



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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Review

Fagen, Scaggs, McDonald focus on others' hits in revue show

By Erik Ernst / Special to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Sept. 16, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 15, 2010

How do three seasoned rock stars, each with his own lengthy catalogs of hits, compile an agreeable set list for a package tour?

On Wednesday night at the Riverside Theater, Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs - billed as the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue, in homage to their earlier 1990s New York Rock and Soul Revue collaboration - chose to focus away from their own work.

Instead, the trio served up a lively 135-minute set comprised mostly of the rhythm and blues that inspired each of their careers.

Some of it was obscure (Scaggs' southern-shuffling cover of Mink DeVille's "Cadillac Walk"). Some of it was familiar (the O'Jays' joyful "Love Train" and the Beach Boys' "Help Me, Rhonda"). Some of it was a bit surprising (they performed two songs from The Band - as many as they did from Fagen's band, Steely Dan).

But all of it was presented with a genuine reverence and youthful musical pep.

The large crowd responded tentatively to the tribute approach early in the show, which was six songs deep before one of the three principle's own pieces - "Green Flower Street," from Fagen's 1982 solo album, "The Nightfly" - made an appearance.

In true revue style, this was a collaborative effort. A crack, seven-piece backing band, energized by three blaring horns, and two backing singers traded spot-lighted solos across the bandstand on Don Covay's "Sookie, Sookie" before Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs, dressed casually in button-down shirts and slacks, shared the vocals on the R&B hop of Lee Michaels' "Heighty Hi."

With Fagen's emotive voice and his fingers slapping frenetically at the keys, the Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street" was reframed with a neo-disco approach. Scaggs' take on Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" blended the boogie-woogie melody with the zydeco sounds of McDonald's accordion.

McDonald spent most of the evening perched behind a red electric piano, but when he sang the soulful, horn-driven blues of Ray Charles' "I Got News For You," his gritty vocals were emotionally intense.

The trio's solo efforts, which came mostly later in the show, blended easily into the rest of the set.

Leaning into a center-stage microphone as he played a melodica, Fagen sang a sauntering version of "I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year)." Singing "Lowdown," Scaggs, who attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, featured the evening's finest vocal - and received the largest applause. McDonald led the band, and the crowd, in the revved-up revival pitch of his Doobie Brothers anthem "Takin' It to the Streets."

As Fagen playfully worked into Steely Dan's "Reeling in the Years," the three rockers smiled, Scaggs fancily fingered the frets of his guitar and the crowd rose to dance.



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Milwaukee Riverside Theater Review

Dukes of September Rhythm Revue ROCKS Milwaukee!

By: Joe Heuer / Rock and Roll Guru
September 16, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 15, 2010

We were up in balcony dancing with reckless abandon once again last night as the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue brought their tour to Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater for an absolutely groovy concert.

This is the first time Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald & Boz Scaggs have hit the road together since ’92’s New York Rock & Soul Revue, and it was truly a show for the ages, as their nine-piece backing band, featuring a terrific horn section, two brilliant female singers and guitarist Jon Herington, was on fire!

The set list was probably the most eclectic I have EVER seen. While we got some Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers classics, the majority of the show consisted of splendiferous covers from some of greatest artists of all time.

The band opened with “Sookie Sookie” before the tremendous trio made their appearance onstage, trading verses on Lee Michaels’ “Heighty Hi.” After Gregg Allman’s “Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing,” the boys delivered one of the highlights of the night, a funkified version of the Dead’s “Shakedown Street.” It just kept getting better with Chuck Berry’s rockin’ “You Never Can Tell” and Ray Charles’ soulful “I’ve Got News for You.”

Not surprisingly, I’m having a little trouble deciphering my notes, but the rest of the two-hour and fifteen minute set included “Green Flower Street,” “I.G.Y” and “Reelin’ in the Years” from Steely Dan, the Doobies’ “What a Fool Believes,” “Taking it to the Streets” and Michael McDonald’s hit “I Keep Forgetting.” Boz’s voice is still silky smooth, and from his catalog we got “Miss Sun” and “Lowdown.”

Another highlight for me was a pair of tunes from The Band, “Rag Mama Rag” and “The Shape I’m In.” Aretha’s “Rock Steady,” Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO,” Muddy’s “I Love the Life I Live” and an outstanding version of Willie Deville’s “Cadillac Walk” were all incredible, and the O’Jays’ spankin’ “Love Train” finally got the rest of the crowd on its feet.  (See, I told you it was an eclectic set list.)

The party continued with encores of the Beach Boys’ “Help Me Rhonda,” which provided some of the best harmonies of the night, “Peg,”  Thunderclap Newman’s “Something In the Air” and a smokin’ closer of Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes.”

In case you haven’t yet watched it, click here to see my 45-second video review that we recorded right after the show.

I have seen tons of fantastic shows through the years, and I gotta say this one ranks up there with the best of them.



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Chicago Theatre Review

Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs roast a collection of rock and soul chestnuts

By Kevin McKeough / Special to the Chicago Tribune
September 12, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 11, 2010

It was the show that begged the question: What do the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda" and a Willie Dixon blues song have to do with each other?

The answer is almost nothing, aside from the affection that Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs seem to share for them. Both songs were among the uneven mix of more than two dozen chestnuts, including their own 70s and 80s hits, that the three men performed under the moniker the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue for a near-capacity, ultimately jubilant crowd at the Chicago Theatre Saturday night.

The three artists, whose work shares an affinity for soul and R&B, previously toured together in 1993 as part of the New York Rock & Soul Revue. McDonald and Scaggs already were performing together when Fagen, on a break from Steely Dan, joined up with them again for the current jaunt.

During the course of the more than two-hour show, they took turns as lead singer, mixing vintage rock and soul and one song each by Americana pioneers the Band. They were backed by a large band drawn mostly from Steely Dan's touring line-up that included an excellent horn section and a rhythm section that kept up insistent, mid-tempo funk grooves but whose volume sometimes overwhelmed the singers.

Any set list that includes both the Band's "The Shape I'm In" (which McDonald roared backed by surging horns) and the late Willy DeVille's blues vamp "Cadillac Walk" (which featured Scaggs' biting delivery and fiery guitar solo) is to be admired, but the grab-bag approach, which included letting each of the two backing singers take a solo turn, sometimes made the show too diffuse for its own good.

Still, there was plenty of pleasure to be had in the Dukes' differing styles and skillful musicianship.

Fagen sang tart melodies in Ray Charles-indebted cadences and frequently stepped away from his piano to trill on melodica, which helped bring a reggae tinge to Steely Dan's "Peg."

McDonald proved a fervent soul shouter whether tearing into Charles' "I Got News For You" or Doobie Brothers' hits like "What a Fool Believes" in his husky voice, and he ranged from electric piano to accordion to banjo.

Scaggs was the model of laid-back cool, hanging behind the beat as he brought his drawling purr to songs including Teddy Pendergrass' "Love TKO," but asserting himself in his biting guitar solos and on his smash "Lowdown."

There was poignancy too, in realizing that the music that Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs were celebrating increasingly is fading into history, but for a few hours the Dukes of September made an argument for songs from the spring of their youth.

© 2010, Chicago Tribune



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Cincinnati, OH PNC Pavilion Review

Star-Studded Cast Brings the Past to PNC Pavilion

Broken Mic
Posted on September 11th, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 10, 2010



My Friday night turned out to be much better than I had intended, as my original plans of hitting up BeerFest on Fountain Square fell through because a free ticket to a concert fell right into my lap. Thankfully, a friend who ran into some luck had contacted me just hours before this particular show was to begin, and so I diverted my path from northbound on I-75 to eastward on I-275 and the PNC Pavilion at the Riverbend Music Center complex on Kellogg Avenue. The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue, an all-star cast featuring Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, Michael McDonald of The Doobie Brothers and Boz Scaggs, would be taking the stage at 8 pm for a show highlighting songs from each’s respective careers.

I’m not what you would think of as a spur-of-the-moment type of guy, but even more so (and shamefully) I wasn’t all that familiar with the work these three gentlemen have done throughout their forty-year plus careers. Let me expand on that thought. While I had heard of groups like Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers, I wasn’t really aware that those were the bands and artists singing those songs I had heard so many times in my youth on radio stations like 92.5 The Fox and Wink 94.1.

While I am nearing but have not yet reached my 30′s and am still considerably young, I often feel much older than I actually am, although last night was feeling a bit out of place in the near sell-out crowd of about 3,500 that consisted of mostly 50 and 60-somethings. Unlike most people I know and as odd as it seems, I grew up on a lot of classic rock bands like The Beatles, Eagles, James Taylor and Elton John. While you would probably think that most kids around the ages of eight, nine and ten aren’t really drawn to music at all (especially bands like the aforementioned) these were the things that I took interest in at that age. Even with all of the countless classic rock bands that have made their way into my music collection up until this point, for some reason softer rock acts like Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers just never found a way in. After seeing last night’s show, that will be changing very soon.

I’d love to give you a play-by-play if you will of last night’s song selections, but because of my lack of knowledge, I just can’t do that. But I will certainly try my hardest.

The lights went down briefly at exactly 8 pm, only to come back on a few seconds later to the beautiful sights of a giant red curtain and star-lit sky backdrop. Nine musicians (minus Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs) had made their way to their instruments and immediately jumped into what can only be described as a soulful, instrumental, groovy jam session. Moments later, roars filled the amphitheater when the trio walked onstage together and joined in. It should be noted that they ended the show with this exact number, with the trio leaving the stage first, while the rest of the band finished off the song.

Just like that star-lit backdrop, it was a night full of stars. It was also a night featuring the sounds of nearly every musical style you can think of. First, there was Fagen, co-founder and lead singer of Steely Dan. For the most part, he sat behind his grand piano located at stage left, but occasionally left to take center stage with his melodica. He provided a more jazzy approach to the evening, with Steely songs like “Reelin in the Years” and “I.G.Y.” Then there was Scaggs on guitar, who provided a more bluesy approach (occasionally taking a lead solo) with songs from his catalogue like “Lowdown” and “We’re All Alone.” And of course there was McDonald, who has arguably one of the most recognizable voices in music. Taking selections from Steely, The Doobies and his solo career, he provided the poppier, softer rock of the evening with songs like “Takin’ It to the Streets”, “I Keep Forgettin” and “What a Fool Believes.”

But for me, the show wasn’t just about this trio of iconic songwriters that were fronting the stage. The nine-piece backing band of mostly session musicians was superb, to say the least. There was the lead guitarist, Jon Herington, who aside from working with Steely, has worked with Elton John and Bette Midler. Bassist Freddie Washington has worked with artists like Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Herbie Hancock and Michael Jackson, while organist Jim Beard has worked with John Scofield, Steve Vai, Pat Metheny and Bela Fleck. The three-piece horn section featured Walt Weiscoft, Jay Collins and trumpeteer Michael Leonheart, who was worked with artists like James Brown, Yoko Ono, David Byrne and Brian Eno, Sharon Jones and Mos Def. It should also be noted that Leonheart won the very first Grammy for “Outstanding High School Musician” when he was just seventeen years old. Lastly, there were the two beautiful background singers, Carolyn Escoffery and Catherine Russell, who provided much of the heart and soul of the entire band. It should also be noted that Russell’s father, the late Luis Russell, was Louis Armstrong’s long-time musical director.

While most of the fans may have been there to hear what songs they would pull out from each other’s collections, I quickly became enticed with what cover songs they would pull out all evening long, the minute they played the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” just three songs into the night. It’s hard to say whether or not this was my favorite song of the night, because a shortwhile later they did three-songs in a row from The Band that included “King Harvest”, “The Shape I’m In” and “Rag Mama Rag” and The Beach Boys “Help Me Rhonda.” A number of other covers, which were sprinkled throughout the roughly two-hour set, came from Motown and the Stax-era like selections from The O’ Jays, Ray Charles and Teddy Pendergrass. When they came back out for the three-song encore, I heard my other favorite of the night, Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air”, which nearly drove me to tears.

While I’m clearly amongst the younger class of those into music like this, it certainly doesn’t hurt to receive a music history lesson and hear some of the things that my parents grew up with. Thanks again Ric for thinking of me when you had an extra ticket to spare!



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Minnesota State Fair Review

Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, and Donald Fagen close down the State Fair

By CP Staff
September 9 2010

Concert Date: Sept. 6, 2010

​RECAP BY STEVE COHEN AND GENNA DEPREY
PHOTOS BY STEVE COHEN

The Minnesota State Fair concert season ended with a bang this year. The 2010 Grandstand hosted many of rock's greatest from Rush to Weird Al Yankovic to KISS. Monday night's fair season finale with the Dukes of September was was a night to remember. Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Michael McDonald (The Doobie Brothers) and Boz Scaggs led this rock, soul, and blues supergroup. With rain falling steadily even as the crowd entered the Grandstand, it seemed unclear whether there would be a show at all. Most of the concertgoers sought shelter in bathroom hallways, wet and cold, but hopeful. Finally the rain subsided after a 40 minute delay and the show was back on.

​Opening the show to the instrumental strains of Don Covay's little known 1965 hit "Sookie Sookie," the three Dukes arrived on stage and shared vocals on Lee Michaels' 1969 hit "Heighty Hi," setting the tone for the cover-filled evening.

While many folks came to hear more of the Dukes' individual career hits, their revue-style cover choices were inspired and eclectic. Boz Scaggs' lead vocal on Teddy Pendergrass' "Love TKO" was not only surprising, but great.  Mike McDonald's soulful renditions of Ray Charles' "I've Got News For You" and the Band's "The Shape I'm In" were equally outstanding.  Donald Fagen kept his covers to mostly hippie-era rock bands with The Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street" and the Band's "King Harvest."

​The principals dipped into their own back catalogs for a selection of hits more familiar to the audience. Fagen sang his 1982 solo hit "I.G.Y." and Steely Dan's rock radio classic "Reelin' In The Years." Scaggs played his monster 1976 hit "Lowdown" and McDonald brought perhaps the most nostalgia with the Doobie Brothers'  "Takin' It To The Streets" (a duet with backup singer Cat Russell), "What A Fool Believes," as well as his 1982 solo hit "I Keep Forgettin'."

While backup singers Catherine Russell and Carolyn Leonhart were talented, having each of them sing a lead vocal took away from the actual Dukes of September leads we wanted to hear.

While it would have been enjoyable hearing McDonald sing backup on on any of the Steely Dan songs he'd contributed to (e.g. "Home At Last," "I Got The News," "Bad Sneakers," "Peg"), that wasn't going to happen. The rain delay's sacrifice of three songs ("Love Train"/The O'Jays, "Something In The Air"/Thunderclap Newman and "Help Me Rhonda"/Beach Boys) was a minor one, as we got 22 other greats in an eclectic mixture of rock and soul nuggets as well as 1970's and 80's hits.

Setlist
Sookie Sookie [Don Covay] (1965)
Heighty Hi [Lee Michaels] (1969)
Don't Mess Up a Good Thing [Fontella Bass & Bobby McGuire] (1965)  
Shakedown Street [Grateful Dead] (1978)
You Never Can Tell [Chuck Berry] (1964)
I Got News for You [Ray Charles] (1961)
Green Flower Street [Donald Fagen] (1982)
Miss Sun [Boz Scaggs] (1981)
I Keep Forgettin' [Michael McDonald] (1982)
Rock Steady [Aretha Franklin](1971) k
King Harvest [The Band] (1969)
Rag Mama Rag [The Band] (1969)
The Shape I'm In [The Band] (1970)
Love TKO [Teddy Pendergerass] (1980)
I Love the Life I Live [Muddy Waters] (1957)
Cadillac Walk [Mink Deville] (1977)
What a Fool Believes [Doobie Brothers] (1978)
I.G.Y. [Donald Fagen] (1982)
Lowdown [Boz Scaggs] (1976)
Takin It to the Streets [Doobie Brothers] (1976)

Encore:
Reelin in the Years [Steely Dan] (1973)
Them Changes [Buddy Miles] (1970)

Dropped from the setlist due to Rain delay:
Love Train [The O'Jays] (1972)
Help Me Rhonda [Beach Boys] (1965)
Something In the Air [Thunderclap Newman] (1969)​​​

Thank you to Steve Cohen. Additional 'Dukes' photos by Steve



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St. Paul Pioneer Press Review

Dukes skip a trip down memory lane

By Ross Raihala / Pop Music Critic / Pioneer Press
September
07, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 6, 2010

It's not unusual to hear cover bands playing the free stages at the Minnesota State Fair. What's not so common is a cover band headlining the Grandstand with $45 tickets. Yet that's just what happened Monday night when the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue wrapped up the Great Minnesota Get-Together in front of a soggy crowd that patiently waited out a storm to see the rain-delayed concert.

Led by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, the show was a sequel of sorts to Fagen's early-'90s touring group the New York Rock and Soul Revue, which featured Fagen covering old R&B and soul nuggets with the help of a bunch of his old musician pals.

Two of them, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, rejoined Fagen for this tour, which follows the same train of thought.

What that meant Monday night was a set list front-loaded with Don Covay's breezy vamp "Sookie Sookie," Lee Michaels' psych-pop gem "Heighty Hi" and a Fontella Bass song that wasn't "Rescue Me" (it was the single she released just before that, "Don't Mess up a Good Thing").



If none of those tracks sounds overly familiar, well, it's because they aren't. But they set the tone for an evening custom-made for scholarly, record-collecting types who still remember, say, Mink DeVille.


It wasn't necessarily the ideal show for nostalgic boomers hoping to kick back and reminisce about what it was like back when they used to get high and listen to "Aja."

It took just four songs for antsy audience members to start shouting out requests and seven songs to get to the first cut written by one of the evening's stars. The number? "Green Flower Street," from Fagen's 1982 solo debut, "The Nightfly." Scaggs' 1980 hit "Miss Sun" came next, followed by McDonald's "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," the first song of the set to get an "Oh, I know this one" reaction from the majority of the crowd.

Elsewhere, the Dukes played not one, but three(!) songs from Robbie Robertson's the Band.

They also tackled the Grateful Dead classic "Shakedown Street," turning it into a Steely Dan song in the process. Alas, those seeking multiple hits actually written by Steely Dan left empty-handed.

Backed by a crackerjack nine-piece band, the trio seemed to be enjoying themselves, albeit in an open rehearsal sort of way. With their graying manes, untucked dress shirts and loose-fit jeans, McDonald and Scaggs looked like half the guys in the audience. Fagen, meanwhile, just gets odder and more mannered with age, and spent much of the show doing his Ray Charles shtick behind the piano.

It's refreshing, I suppose, to see these guys take this novel approach and not rely on their own warhorses to draw a crowd.

But, more often than not, it felt like a show suited to an intimate theater rather than the populist masses of the Fair.







Minneapolis Star Tribune Review

An oddball musical collection at fair

A windswept show by three legendary hitmakers included surprising set-list choices -- plus a few hits.

By Jon Bream / Star Tribune
September 7, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 6, 2010

Elements played a big part in Monday night's closing concert at the State Fair grandstand -- rain, wind and elements of musical surprise.

A heavy rain delayed by 40 minutes the start of the concert by 1970s/'80s rock heroes Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs -- billed as the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue. Wind and rain pelted the performers late in the show, compelling a roadie to shield Fagen with an umbrella and Scaggs to don a heavy plaid lumberjack jacket (this is the Minnesota State Fair, after all).

But the biggest element was that of surprise, as the Dukes as a whole were weirder than the sum of their individual stars. They opted for an idiosyncratic set list, mining nuggets from 1960s and '70s R&B and rock legends, and playing a limited number of their own hits. What on paper looked like a baby boomer's dream instead turned into something of a bad acid trip with tunes by the Grateful Dead, the Band and Buddy Miles.


Unless, of course, you didn't mind seeing a high-priced cover band that took plenty of risks with its repertoire. They were indeed a very good 12-piece band. In fact, the supporting cast sometimes outshone the three stars, who, as Fagen admitted in an interview, prefer being sidemen instead of frontmen. Guitarist Jon Herington was the instrumental star, and backup singer Cat Russell stole the spotlight whenever she duetted with McDonald.

The Dukes truly played this as a revue, giving more attention to the coolness of the tune than to pacing, presentation and pleasing the ticket buyers. The first part of the two-hour set featured obscurities (Lee Michaels' "Heighty Hi"), quirky curiosities (the Dead's disco-fied "Shakedown Street") and oddball choices from the stars (the 66-year-old Scaggs' "Miss Sun").

Despite being obstructed by two music stands, electric pianist McDonald, 58, perked things up with the Doobie Brothers' "I Keep Forgettin'" but the Dukes took a detour into three songs from the Band, a widely revered pioneer of Americana music. Wouldn't the 5,554 fans have preferred more hits from Steely Dan, Fagen's band (only "Reelin' in the Years" was offered), than the Band?

When the hits section finally arrived, the Dukes and their Rhythm Revue were wonderful. Fans danced joyously to McDonald's "What a Fool Believes," Fagen's solo hit "I.G.Y." and Scaggs' "Lowdown," during which the 38-mph wind blew the singer-guitarist's hair the way a fan blows Beyonce's onstage. (A roadie held an umbrella over ringmaster Fagen, 62, at the grand piano, which was the strangest moment at the grandstand this year, next to Kiss' Paul Stanley flying over the crowd on a trapeze -- a first at the fair.) Buoyed by the wind and Herington's guitar, "Lowdown" was a highlight.

So, too, were the ensuing "Takin' It to the Streets" (during which Russell, a most powerful vocalist, stole the song from McDonald) and "Reelin' in the Years," featuring Herington's soaring solo and the tightest sound the Revue had all night (most of the backup musicians toured with Steely Dan last year).

But the Dukes gave in to the elements. As the winds whipped and the rain started to pick up, the band trimmed three songs from its planned set list. The highly talented ensemble finished with Buddy Miles' "Them Changes," a funk-rock raveup that reminded everyone that the Dukes had delivered too little too late.

Dukes of September: 22 oldies & outfits from closets of Byrne & Young


By Jon Bream / Star Tribune
September 7, 2010

Now that I’m out of the wind and rain, here are a few more thoughts about the Dukes of Disappointment’s performance Monday at the State Fair, beyond what was in my wind-aided review.

*The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue sounded, for the most part, like hired guns, until they came to the final six songs. Then they came across like a tour-tested band.

*Donald Fagen looked like he was wearing a sport coat from David Byrne’s wardrobe closet for “Stop Making Sense.”  Yes, Fagen shoulders a big burden as organizer, ringmaster and spokesman for the Dukes, but enough with the linebacker-sized shoulder pads.

*When Boz Scaggs buttoned up that plaid jacket to fight off the wind, he looked like Neil Young. And his voice had more noticeable Texas twang than usual all night long.

* Couldn’t tell you what Michael McDonald looked like because he was mostly obliterated by two music stands in front of his electric piano. Mike sang hard on his solo and duo selections. A different music stand blocked Fagen when he was doing standup singing.

* Cat Russell, not Carolyn Leonhart, should have sung Aretha’s Rock Steady. While Carolyn is a soulful screamer, her voice was small, especially in comparison to Russell’s. However, they were perfect backup vocalist partners.

*The Band’s King Harvest, about farm union organizers, seemed appropos to sing on Labor Day.

 * Because of the weather, Fagen called an audible and trimmed three tunes from the planned set list: Love Train (the O’Jays), Help Me Rhonda (Beach Boys) and Something In the Air (Thunderclap Newman).

Here is what the Dukes played:

Sookie Sookie (instrumental by backup band; Don Covay hit, 1965)/ Heighty Hi (all three Dukes sing; Lee Michaels, 1969)/ Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing (McDonald & Russell sing; Fontella Bass & Bobby McGuire, 1965)/ Shakedown Street (Fagen sings; Grateful Dead, 1978)/ You Never Can Tell (Boz sings; Chuck Berry, 1964)/ I Got News for You (McDonald sings; Ray Charles, 1961)/ Green Flower Street (Fagen, 1982)/ Miss Sun (Scaggs, 1981)/ I Keep Forgettin’ (McDonald, Doobie Brothers, 1982)/ Rock Steady (Carolyn Leonhart sings, Aretha Franklin 1971)/ King Harvest (Fagen sings, the Band, 1969) Rag Mama Rag (Scaggs sings, the Band, 1969) The Shape I’m In (McDonald sings, the Band, 1970)/ Love TKO (Scaggs sings, Teddy Pendergrass, 1980)/ I Love the Life I Live (Russell sings, Muddy Waters, 1957) Cadillac Walk (Scaggs sings, Mink Deville, 1977)/ What a Fool Believes (McDonald, Doobie Brothers, 1978)/ I.G.Y. (Fagen, 1982)/ Lowdown (Scaggs, 1976)/ Takin It to the Streets (McDonald and  Russell, Doobie Brothers, 1976) ENCORE Reelin in the Years (Fagen, Steely Dan, 1973)/ Them Changes (McDonald sings, Buddy Miles, 1970)

©2010 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.




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New Jersey PNC Center Concert Review

The Dukes of September Bring Real R&B to the PNC Bank Arts Center

By Sonya Alexander / NY Classic Rock Examiner
September 4th, 2010
Concert Date: Sept. 2, 2010

The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue is a new and refreshing take on a traditional theme. On September 2, 2010, veteran musicians Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs truly lived up to the term "revue" by playing a variety of rhythm and blues-based songs from various eras, though the PNC Bank Arts Center crowd didn't truly seem to appreciate the prime panoply of songs that were played. It seemed as if they expected the power trio to play only their own hits, which would have also been a top-notch show, but the fact that they played such a wide range of music was a testament to their true love and appreciation for music as a whole.

They kicked off the night with Don Covay's "Sookie Sookie" and Lee Michaels' "Heighty Hi," and from there it was a soulful mix of hits from other artists as well as their own. Michael did a duet with backup singer Catherine Russell, Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure's "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing," both tackling the tune with rich, sonorous vocals. Fagen then jaunted through The Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street," channeling Ray Charles at the baby grand piano, rocking side-to-side, his body in constant movement. Boz Scaggs, voice-like-honey, then launched into a rousing take on Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell," with Michael jamming on the accordion.

Of the 25-song, two hour-set, only a handful of the tunes were the artists' own hits. Michael McDonald, with his wonderfully gravelly voice that at times seemed strained in the outdoor venue but was captivating throughout, performed signature songs "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" and "Takin' it to the Streets," Boz sung his sultry hit "Miss Sun" along with crowd favorite, "Lowdown," and Fagen grooved with "Green Flower Street," "I.G.Y.," and "Reeling in the Years." They really got-down in a special tribute to Jersey's own The Band, performing three heady cuts by the seminal band: "Caledonia Mission," "Rag Mama Rag," and "The Shape I'm In." The guys also proved themselves to be generous musicians, giving each backup singer a solo: Russell belted out Muddy Waters' "I Love the Life I Live" and Carolyn Leonhart rocked Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady." One of the highlights of the night was Boz singing soul legend Teddy Pendergrass' "Love TKO," which he sang with such mellow, controlled vocals and cool passion, he left the somewhat mainstream crowd at a loss when confronted with such raw soul music. But it showed Boz has still got it, tenfold.

The seasoned triumvarite was backed by a lively, first-class seven-piece band: Jon Herington on guitar; Freddie Washington on bass; Michael White on drums; Jim Beard on keyboards; and horn players Michael Leonhart, Walt Weiskopf, and Jay Collins.They seemed to be having a good time, backing up the Dukes with plenty of energy and dexterity.

They closed the night with some wonderful 60s throwback songs; the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda," with Boz on lead vocals, Fagen doing a touching rendition of the Thunderclap Newman classic "Something in the Air," and Michael closed it out with a funky version of Buddy Miles' "Them Changes." This was only the ninth concert out of the 22 in their tour, which wraps up in Las Vegas on October 2, but the performances and production-quality are seamless. The Dukes of September are more than just blue-eyed soul, they're consummate musicians that recognize great music crosses all genres and all boundaries of the imagination.

PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ - Sept. 2, 2010 Video courtesy of nedlimpopo


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Boston Wang Theater Concert Review

The Dukes rule with edgy risks, classic hit gems

By Jed Gottlieb / Boston Herald
September 1, 2010
Concert Date: Aug. 31, 2010

Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs are no mere yeomen on the high seas of yacht rock. No Gophers nor Isaacs nor Julie McCoys are thee, but Captain Stubings piloting a gentle course through the popular, pristine adult rock that dominated the late ’70s.

But last night at the trio’s Dukes of September tour stop at a stuffed Citi Wang Theatre, they were also pirates. Instead of a set of wall-to-wall singles from solo albums, the Dukes raided the past, coming up with chestnuts from soul legends, rock ’n’ roll architects and hippie icons. The gems were welcome treasure next to the classic-but-ubiquitous hits.

The frontmen slowly wandered out while the ace nine-piece backing band vamped over Don Covay’s “Sookie Sookie.” Then the whole crew launched into Lee Michaels’ “Heighty Hi.” Oh, yes, these guys unearthed some truly rare nuggets.

Fagen dressed the groovy Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” in a sport coat and sunglasses and pushed it out into the curious crowd as the Steely Dan song it always wanted to be. Scaggs thumped out Chuck Berry’s tremendous “You Never Can Tell.”

But the high point of the dozen-plus covers was a trifecta of Band tunes. Leaving the mellow ’70s far behind, the old men nearly got into a hootenanny. “King Harvest” worked perfectly with Fagen’s voice and McDonald’s banjo strummin’ - although he joked that every time he plays it, he “gets further from ever having sex again.”

Of course, the fans had paid a lot of money for hits, so every so often, the guys sailed back into their ’70s sound. Huge cheers (almost of relief) went up when the Doobie Brother hit the electric piano chords that open “What a Fool Believes” and “Takin’ It to the Streets,” and Scaggs got big love from the baby boomers with his dirty, dirty “Lowdown.”


Wang Theater - Boston - Aug. 31, 2010 - Video courtesy of dgold61

But tops was Fagen doing Steely Dan’s always cool “Reelin’ in the Years” - not enough can be said about guitar master Jon Herington, who made a great guitar solo greater.

Some of the stuff was corny, some of it was kooky, but almost all of it took a risk.

And for guys not known for being risky, it was great to see them embrace a set no one imagined they’d do in 1977.



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Boston Globe Concert Review

’70s pop stars ‘don’t mess up a good thing’

By Marc Hirsh / Globe Correspondent
September 1, 2010
Concert Date: Aug. 31, 2010

“One for them, one for me’’ is the showbiz mantra describing an artist who switches between popular entertainment and more personal projects. Last night, at Citi Wang Theatre, the Dukes Of September Rhythm Revue seem to be the “one for me’’ for ’70s-rock stalwarts Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs.

They played just enough of their own material to placate the fans, giving the rest of the performance over to an idiosyncratic mix of songs they claimed to have grown up with. (Youthful vigor aside, they weren’t fooling anybody with the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street,’’ from 1978.) The nine-piece band — including three horns and two female vocalists — was particularly suited to R&B, but it also handled the flower-power pop of “Something In The Air’’ and the surf-rock of “Help Me, Rhonda.’’

Fagen called out “That’s right!’’ when the latter started, as though addressing the audience’s unspoken incredulity at a trio better known for cool, jazzy soul-pop taking on one of the Beach Boys’ sunniest tunes. For the most part, they picked lower-profile material from artists such as Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Aretha Franklin.

It seemed that the Dukes were determined to avoid guaranteed crowd- pleasers. But please the crowd they did. Fagen pounded twitchily at his piano on “Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing’’ and “The Shape I’m In’’ like he was Larry David channeling Ray Charles. Scaggs took on sultrier numbers, like “Love T.K.O.,’’ drawing listeners in with his light vocal touch, and the deceptively high-performance hum of “Cadillac Walk.’’

And if McDonald’s voice has weakened since his prime, it would have taken an especially close listen to detect it in his wailing on “I’ve Got News For You’’ and a gospel-amplified “Takin’ It To The Streets.’’ The other three big hits — Scaggs’s “Lowdown,’’ McDonald’s “What A Fool Believes,’’ and Fagen’s “Reelin’ In The Years’’ — seemed more perfunctory. The concert was a reminder that sometimes just watching musicians playing for fun is rewarding enough.


Wang Theater - Bozton - Aug. 31, 2010 - Video courtesy of dgold61



Virginia Belmont Country Club Review

The Dukes of September (Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs & Donald Fagen)

By Mike Gruenberg / jambandsdotcom
Published:
August 27, 2010
Concert Date: Aug. 22, 2010

In My Life

What happens when you take the man who’s unmistakable voice as the former lead singer of the Doobie Brothers is added to the elegant blues/rock/jazz guitar styling’s of a man they call “Slim” and mix in a touch of ½ of the duo you knew as Steely Dan and combine those three with a nine piece band of incredible musicians as you sit on the grass on a beautiful Virginia summer evening? I’ll tell you. You applaud until your hands turn red. You shout until you can’t speak anymore and you smile all the way home knowing you have seen a concert that will forever live on in your mind.

On Sunday, August 22nd, I saw one of the twenty-two concerts that will be rolling across the country performed by the “Dukes of September” better known as Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs and Donald Fagen. Each of them played some of the hits that made them famous, but they also played the songs that they listened to as they grew up in the same era as me. For a baby boomer like me, I was at home with the guys on stage. I was with my buds, with my peeps and loving it.

This tour is a reunion, of sorts for Michael, Boz and Donald. In March of 1991, they teamed up at the Beacon Theater in New York for one night along with Phoebe Snow, Eddie & Dave Brigati (formerly of the Rascals) and a cast of ace musicians which was then called the “New York Rock & Soul Revue”. Fortunately, that evening was captured on CD by Giant Records (9 24423-2). Don’t know if this album is still available at the usual record outlets but if not, it’s worth a trip to used record store to find it. I can only hope that the concert I just saw will be out on CD/Vinyl in the near future, although music from the first concert is remarkably similar to the one I saw this past week-end.

Much like the current tour, the NY Revue brought together musicians with a similarity of purpose in the styles of music they all loved as teenagers and budding musicians. In the liner notes of the NY Revue album written by Donald Fagen in July of 1991, he says “The Revue….provides an occasion for our group of like-minded players and singers to get together and perform the sort of music that inspired us to become musicians in the first place– the music we’d like to hear at a good party.”

Nineteen years later (“Hey Nineteen”) there’s Fagen on stage, acting as emcee for the band telling the audience the same things as he wrote on the liner notes so many years prior. The three musicians clearly honor the music, are making an extraordinary living from writing and performing that music and most of all, they still love their work. How many people can say that the still love their job after 30+ years doing the same work? The Dukes do! There was a joy to their playing that could be felt by every person in the audience.

At one point, there was a trumpet solo of a Boz Scaggs song. Boz looked back at the horn section and nodded approvingly to the young horn player who embellished his signature song. He then turned back to the audience and it was quite apparent that he was very impressed with this young guys chops. Fagen played the keyboards with enthusiasm and verve almost in a Ray Charles manner as he bounced back and forth. Michael McDonald, whose voice has not lost an octave since his early days got up from the piano bench at the end of the 2 ½ hour concert, shirt dripping with sweat with a huge grin on his face. By the way, they played continuously; no breaks and the time just flew by.

Among the hits from other artists that they played were:
• I’ve Got News For You by Ray Charles
• You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry
• Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing by Fontella Bass
• Love Train by The O’Jays
• Rock Steady by Aretha Franklin
• Sookie Sookie by Don Covay

They played three songs by The Band and when they played the Beach Boys classic, “Help Me Rhonda”, everyone in the audience sang along.

Evenings like this are magical and are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In these economic times where we all are probably being be more prudent in our spending patterns, which may mean that you have to stretch your concert dollar to only go to a limited amount of shows this year, save up your dollars and go to this one when the Dukes appear in your area. It will be worth it.



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Atlantic City Borgata Concert Review

Michael McDonald-Boz Scaggs-Donald Fagen are The Dukes of September

Jim Galloway
Published August 28, 2010
Concert Date: Aug. 20, 2010

The Dukes started out with 100 songs and narrowed it down to a few Motown & Stax era hits, Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Boz Scaggs, some Dead, The Band &....
 
It was the second night of The Dukes Of September Rhythm Revue tour in Atlantic City, at the Event Center in the Borgata Hotel and Casino. The 21 concert tour that started on August 19th in Danbury Conn.and will wind up in Las Vegas on Oct 2. of this year.
 
Michael McDonald's Pipes-Boz Scaggs Velvet Ballads-Donald Fagen's Classic Rock Songs
 
The backup group was a spectacular mixture of quality session musicians from New York to LA. Including Jon Herington on guitar, Freddie Washington on bass guitar, Michael White on the drums, Michael Leonheart, Walt Weiscoft and Jay Collins were the horn section, Jim Beard playing organ and background vocalist Carolyn Escoffery and Catherine Russell.
 
At stage right it was Michael McDonald on a piano, Boz Scaggs Center stage on guitar with Donald Fagen of Steely Dan fame at stage left on his Grand piano.A full stage to compliment a full night of music.
 
The opening set was the backup players, warming up the crowd, stretching their talents before giving way to the star trio coming on stage to perform musical hits from their own catalogues. They took turns honoring each other with live versions of their own tunes and performing classic from the past mostly R&B and Soul hits that mentored their early musical development.
 
The genesis of the tour started with small venues in New York City in 1993 that turned into The New York Rock and Roll Soul Revue. It toured nationally and produced an album Live at The Beacon Theater. Now, nearly 20 years have gone by I am reminded just how good the best musicians we saw and talked about back then, in the 90's, still are.
 
A Journey Through 50 Years Of R&B With Stops At Each Decade
 
This time the trio from the original Rock & Roll Soul revue, stretched out even further with a funked out rendition of the Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street, the 70’s sound of Soul Train by the O’Jays, Ray Charles,’ I’ve Got News For You, Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing by Fontella Bass.

Then there was a Buddy miles classic Them Changes and Rock Steady, an Areatha Franklin song that Fagen introduced as a diner jukebox song from his high School days before McDonald blew the roof of the Event Center with it. According to press releases concert goers could expect to see the trio delve deep into their individual classic catalogues of music along with selected hits and tributes to their influences. That’s exactly what I and the rest of the 2000 or so mostly 40-60 aged group seen that night.
 
With a Tribute To Levon Helm And The Band-McDonald Played Some Banjo
 
With the soulful McDonald singing his standard classics like "Taking It To The Streets", "What a Fool Believes", "Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing" and "I Keep Forgetting", to Boz Scaggs with his soft jazz influenced arranged songs from his 1976 platinum album Silk Degrees, "We're All Alone" and "Lowdown", along with Teddy Pendergrass' hit "Love TKO" that had the Moms or should I say the Grand-moms up on their feet and back in the disco like it was 1977.
 
Finally the energized Fagen who acted as an MC at times while moving and dancing around the stage, adding some classic rock with Steely Dan hits like Reelin in The Years, I Got The News, Green Flower Street and acknowledging the dozens of request coming from the fans dancing in the aisles.
 
The 3 song tribute to The Band with Scaggs doing Rag Mama Rag Rag. A big and powerful sound that showcased the Dukes of September’s horn section and Jim Beard organ chops that filled the small arena. McDonald Belting out The Shape I’m In. Fagan’s rendition of Caledonia Mission just a tad muffled and bassy.
 
Fagen even acknowledged it to be a little rough and attributed it to the tour only being 2 nights old. This was the worst anyone could come up with after high expectations and comparisons to the 93 Revue. The concert scores 9 out of 10- loaded with the vocals that everyone expected from McDonald, The cool charisma and talent of rocker Fagen and the sultry voice and guitar licks of Scaggs.



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Danbury, CT SoundSpike Concert Review

Concert: The Dukes of September in Danbury, CT

By John Voket / SoundSpike Contributor
Published August 20, 2010
Concert Date: Aug. 19, 2010

Surrounding themselves with a court of crack musical support, the Dukes of September -- Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs and Steely Dan's Donald Fagan -- kicked off a national tour Thursday (8/19), bringing their Rhythm Review to the Ives Concert Park in Danbury, CT.

The trio of frontmen played it smart, opting to run the more than two-dozen songs they performed in a non-stop, two-hour set. The continuity and quick transition between songs also helped to energize the predominantly over-40 audience, even when individual selections downshifted into slower or bluesier arrangements.

In a national teleconference attended by SoundSpike ahead of the tour, Fagan said the trio settled on the intriguing name for their supergroup after determining the bulk of their shows were going to be played in September -- and perhaps as a subtle reference to the age of the frontmen.

"We had a little trouble finding a name, actually," he said. "We actually started out with 'The Theme from Sea Hunt Rhythm Review,' but that did not get universal acclaim. The Dukes is a sort of name that harkens back to those '50s do-wop bands with royalty names."

Fagan explained the genesis of the tour occurred in the early '90s, when his wife, Libby Titus, was producing little shows in Manhattan restaurants featuring mostly friends that included musicians, comedians and other performers.

"This grew into The New York Rock and Soul Revue, which toured nationally for two years and produced an album, 'Live at the Beacon Theater,' Fagan said. "The 1993 show featured, among others, Mike McDonald, Boz Scaggs and myself. The shows were such a blast that we decided to tour together again this year as the mighty Dukes of September."

Based on the opening night's offerings, Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs are delving into their individual classic catalogs of music, while mixing in selected hits and tributes to their influences. They're accompanied by top-echelon players including Jon Herington (guitar); Freddie Washington (bass); Michael White (drums); Michael Leonhart; Walt Weiskopf and Jay Collins (horns); Jim Beard (organ); and background singers Carolyn Escoffery and Catherine Russell.

Scaggs said during the press avail that the final setlist was refined "out of hundreds of songs we've picked out of the hat."

While some of the classic covers -- like Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" and "Love Train" -- were delivered with requisite energy, many in the audience who may have come to hear material from each member's individual catalog instead got to check out alternate and intriguing choices like the Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street," The Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda" and a tribute set to The Band.

Contrary to the heavy, overdriving bottom end that marked the Dead's performances of "Shakedown Street," the Dukes stripped the song into a funkier vehicle that put the spotlight on the horn section and backup singers as much as on Fagan, who handled the lead vocals.

The pivotal midpoint of Thursday's set gave each of the Dukes a chance to perform one favorite from The Band's catalog.

Leading in, Fagan said he wanted to highlight a more obscure track off "Music from Big Pink," pulling out "Caledonia Mission," which worked well with his higher pitched voice and somewhat breathy delivery. Conversely, Scaggs' take on "Rag Mama Rag" was a spot-on reproduction of the original, mimicking the brash and spirited vocal style of Levon Helm.

McDonald brought the whole package to a rousing close, belting out "The Shape I'm In," with Beard capturing the swirling organ fills with precision.

Scaggs' classic hit "Lowdown," was among the most enthusiastically received numbers of the evening. And immediately following up with the obscure "Love TKO" by Teddy Pendergrass really gave the crowd a chance to see how well the Midwestern-born singer and guitar player could stretch.

Fagan had a few familiar tunes, seemingly inserted as tent posts throughout the evening, to keep his and the Steely Dan fans appeased. Early in the show, he jammed on "I Got The News." "Green Flower Street" came a few songs later, and the pre-encore "Reelin' in the Years" brought the audience to its feet. But Fagan's highpoint was "IGY," from his first solo album, "The Nightfly."

McDonald sprinkled the set with a combination of solo and Doobie Brothers hits including "I Keep Forgettin'," "What a Fool Believes," and "Takin' It To The Streets." His duet with Campbell on "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing" and her fantastic contribution to "Takin' It To The Streets" gave this capable backup singer a few minutes in the spotlight.

Escoffery also had two opportunities to come up front, at one point providing blistering vocals to "Rock Steady," one of the songs Fagan said he first heard on a jukebox at one of his old college hangouts.

While the Dukes of September Rhythm Review is certainly a vehicle for the three Dukes, audiences coming to one of the many shows scheduled through early October should enjoy the entire package of great overall musicianship, and a songbook of material that sets this tour up as perhaps one of the most eclectic of the year.



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DUKES of SEPTEMBER FAN REVIEWS:

 

Fan Review - Kansas City

September 18, 2010 - Kansas City, MO - Starlight Theatre

After reading several of the concert reviews, I just had to write to ask what were most of the writers looking for, did they not research anything about the concert before going, some complain about the lack of original tunes, set lists were posted on Web sites or they could have listened to the Rock and Soul review CD . I just have to say I went to the Kansas City concert with rain and all it was still one of the best concert I have attended and if they were in the area I would go again.


- wooddrdavis



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Fan Reviews - Milwaukee Riverside Theatre

September 15, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theater

steveo8091 - Sep 16, 2010 10:15 AM»

This was a GREAT concert. My group was a bit skeptical at the start but loved the whole show.

But it never ceases to amaze me how crappy the sound mix always is in Milwaukee. EVERY concert is mixed by tone deaf guys who don't have a clue what they're doing. Fagan's singing at the top of his lungs and you barely hear him in the mix. His piano was non-existent. We were fortunate that the EQ and level on one mic was good... the one Boz used.

To the guys doing the mix... take off the headphones. Use your ears and eyes. You ruin the shows.

Hawthorne Wingo - Sep 16, 2010 10:28 AM»
steveo:
how can you not get the mix right in a great room like the riverside or pabst??? mindboggling

Doobalong - Sep 16, 2010 10:43 AM»
All the shows I have seen at Pabst sounded awesome, love that place! The
Riverside however depends where you sit, front and center of coarse sounds awesome but that left wall, oy the bass! and don't get me started on that back wall under the balcony. Its like an echo chamber. Saw Feat from back there and it sounded awful. Could be worse, try the auditorium some time! yikes!

Uber-bill - Sep 16, 2010 11:14 AM»
'The Band' songs covered were Rag Mama Rag and The Shape I'm in. Erik, shame on you for not mentioning their final song - Them Changes. Written by Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles, the Dukes horn arrangement blew the roof off the joint. Absolutely blew the it off.

tmt33kp - Sep 16, 2010 11:58 AM»
I was 13th row - dead center and trust me, the music was just as bad there. I thought that maybe in my advanced age, I was just spoiled by excellent musicians and fantastic vocals. Last night was neither. Sound board or not. First time to see Boz live but the other two I have seen multiple times. It felt scripted and forced. The girls were great and "Lowdown" stole the show. The rest, dare I say, was pedestrian at best. For the person reading this wishing they were there - in my mind - you missed nothing near the value of the price of the ticket. It was $243 to watch Michael MacDonald clap out of sync - not be able to hear Fagan's piano play at all - the guy working the spot light couldn't aim right - it was like a dress rehearsal more than anything. Horn section was average, drummer was average, bass player - there was a bass player, right? All in all it was a side stage act at Summerfest that most would listen to a few songs and then move on.

TommyBolin - Sep 16, 2010 12:18 PM»
I was at the show last night...have to agree with the sound issues. I could barely hear Donald Fagen and if I didn't see it I never would have known he was playing the piano. I too think "Lowdown" was the highlight of the show (disappointed he didn't do "Lido Shuffle") but a close second for me was the version of Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady". The woman absolutely killed it!!!

Jo Jo MacGowan - Sep 16, 2010 4:18 PM»
I grew up listening to Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers and had a few Boz Skaggs albumns. Yes, they were albums, not CDs. I sat in the second row. I LOVED this concert. I knew the words to every song they played. My fiance, a Grateful Dead and a Band fan, was delighted to hear "The Dukes of September" play the eclectric selection of music they did. I didn't know what to expect because each of these three talented musicans' own music style is so different. I thought the music collaboration was outstanding. Bozz Skaggs, who I have not followed in years, sang effortlessly. Donald Fagan, who I thought would be somewhat introverted introduced all the songs, the band and did most of the talking. And when he sat down and pounded those piano keys, it was so obvious that he really enjoyed the music they chose for the set last night. That made me enjoy it even more. Michael McDonald -- he has the most beautiful voice. Their harmonies were wonderful. I could not have asked for better entertainment.

illustrator5 - Sep 16, 2010 6:47 PM»
I absolutely loved this last night..... The Shape I'm in was one of the Band's song and Teddy Pendergrass Love TKO plus their own hits! They really really had a knock out back up band and singers...absolutely fabulous! I think the crowd went back in time too especially Thunderclap Neuman and the song Something in the air!!

Michael looks fabulous...always has always will and the Boz is aging gracefully and his voice is still so distinct....Fagen seemed a little strained at times but he was still great!

KWB24 - Sep 16, 2010 8:52 PM»
@ steveo8091
Uhhh...dear Steveo..you do realize that 99.9% of the acts that come through Milwaukee ,especially those playing mid-sized rooms like the R Side or the Pabst, travel with their own sound man for front of house and the vast majority have their own monitor guy as well.. So then according to you EVERY band out there some how mysteriously...and quite oddly at that, as well...hires "tone deaf guys who don't have a clue what they're doing". Interesting. Is there a on-line club that they get them from ? Some sort of fraternity? Are they like mail order brides and you just order one and hope for the best? And why would they ALL do it?

Well, OK then.

wobechar - Sep 16, 2010 9:23 PM»
Boz Scaggs, whom I have seen in concerts from California to Wisconsin, almost always does a flawless show. To see and hear him perform with two other 70s legends - no matter whose work they perform - would have been a gift from heaven.

tenntom - Sep 17, 2010 2:39 PM»
I agree with Doobalong - I was on the left side of the balcony (row 3) and just got POUNDED with bass overtones the whole evening...a real damper on what was an excellent gig. (Note to tech - it's not always all about the drummer you know - turn him down every once in awhile, please)



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Fan Reviews - Council Bluffs, Iowa

September 14, 2010 - Council Bluffs, IA - Mid-America Center

The Dukes Are a Dud

Sep 15th, 2010 by Mark Carpenter

Last night, me and some buddies from work went to see The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue at a 6,000-seat venue here in town. The Dukes of September are Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan), Michael McDonald (of The Doobie Brothers) and Boz Scaggs, all backed by a first-rate jazz band. Each of these three guys is incredibly talented with a huge catalog of hits, ALMOST NONE OF WHICH THEY PERFORMED!

In a set consisting of 26 tunes, the Dukes played a scant two songs from each of their giant repertoires. The rest of the night was filled with covers of turgid blues clodhoppers by Muddy Waters, The Band and Buddy Miles. When the Dukes and their band finally broke into Boz Scaggs’ joyous Miss Sun, the crowd was so relieved to finally hear something familiar, they instantly shot out of their seats with a roar.

When Fagen, Scaggs and McDonald returned for an encore, every ear in the hall was prepared for a raging Lido Shuffle, but instead the band broke into a loopy version of Help Me Rhonda. Go figure.

My advice to the Dukes: play your hits, guys! I didn’t pay $150 to hear Teddy Pendergrass


The Dukes of September  
 
Post By: B0NES Wed 09/15 05:56
 
Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs.

Billed as a 'Rhythm Review' I didn't exactly know what to expect from this show other than to know that if you are a touring musician for any of these dudes you are going to be tighter than a "insert religious person and a type of hole"...

I'm a huge fan of Steely Dan and Michael McDonald did a lot of background vocals for them before joining the Doobie Brothers so it was a special treat to hear 'Peg' performed with McDonald singing back ups.

They performed the entire set with all three of them playing on stage together for each song, often switching between instruments.

They played a lot of covers as well as their respective repertoires and their back up band...whew fucking awesome.

I have to say that I had no idea what to expect from Boz Scaggs. The only visual representation I had of him was from my copies of the first seasons of Saturday Night Live. When he came out on stage he looked a little worse for wear. None the less when he kicked in to 'Low Down' he could have had any woman in the place.

I just realized that none of you kids have any idea what i'm talking about. If you do, well...it was awesome to see performed live the music your parents listened to while you were being conceived.

They were all very impressive. The band was pretty much made up of Steely Dans touring band.



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Fan Reviews - Boston, MA

The Dukes of September!  Saw them at the Wang last night, August 31, 2010, and it was a fantabulous time.  Had 2nd row seats right in front on Michael McDonald and Jon Herrington. So close I could only snap a couple of crappy phone pics that I have attached. Security was present and tight.

First the setlist...then I will give some random thoughts...
 
1. "Sookie Sookie (Don Covay) Instrumental
2. "Heighty Hi " (Lee Michaels) All
3. "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing" (Fontella
Bass and Bobby McClure) Mike and Catherine duet
4. "Shakedown Street" (Grateful Dead) Donald
5. "You Never Can Tell" (Chuck Berry) Boz
6. "I Got News For You" (Ray Charles) Michael
7. "Green Flower Street" Donald
8. "Miss Sun" Boz
9. "I Keep Forgettin" Mike
10. "Rock Steady" (Aretha Franklin) Carolyn
11. "Caledonia Mission" (The Band) Donald
12. "Rag Mama Rag" (The Band) Boz
13. "The Shape I'm In" (The Band) Michael
14. "Love TKO" (Teddy Pendergrass) Boz
15. "I Love the Life I Live" (Muddy Waters) Catherine
16. "What A Fool Believes" Michael
17. "Cadillac Walk" (Mink Deville) Boz
18. "I.G.Y." Donald
19. "Lowdown" Boz
20. "Takin' It To The Streets" Michael
21. "Reelin' In The Years" (1972 version) Donald
22. "Love Train" (O Jays) All
Encore
23. "Help Me Rhonda" (Beach Boys) All
24. "Something In The Air" (Thunderclap Newman) All
24. "Them Changes" (Buddy Miles) Michael
25. "Sookie Sookie" (Don Covay) Instrumental/Girls
 
As you can see....quite an exciting and eclectic setlist. All the people around that kept shouting for Steely Dan songs obviously didn't quite get what they were coming to see. Crowd was laid back ... real laid back. At one point Donald cracked "Its aweful quiet...is there anyone out there?"  But the crowd warmed up once the "Hits" started playing and it became a lovefest ...I would say the mean age of the crowd was 54...lol.
 
Michael McDonald - Mr. Versatility . Played accordian, bango and ukelali in addition to keys. Maybe it is because I have seen him so many times in the past couple years, but I thought "White Lightning" was the least conspicuous of the group last night. NOT BAD...he is always great...just not as many highlights for him in my estimation.
 
Donald Fagan - I always wondered exactly how good Donald is on keyboards because on many Steely Dan tours...and even his own solo tour, Donald really doesnt step out intrumentally. Sometimes it seems he is just banging on it or just playing fills....but tonight I got my answer. Donald spent most of the evening behind a grand piano and really played some gorgeous stuff.  Even did a couple musical interludes between songs...this was a great surprise to me.  When not behind the grand he played that damn melodica...but it was all great. He only did one "real" Steely Dan song ....Reelin In the Years (the original 72 arrangement). This was a great disappointment to many in attendance although IGY got a huge ovation.
 
Boz Scaggs - the undisputed STAR OF THE SHOW...boy did Boz shine tonight. He played the coolest songs (priceless to hear him sing "You Never Can Tell", "Love TKO" and :"Love Train".  "Miss Sun" got the biggest ovation of the night at the end of a song....and Lowdown maybe got the biggest ovation as the opening notes were recognized. Even loved Boz doing the double lead with Jon Herrington on "Reelin"...
 
Help Me Rhonda -  wow this was so cool to see these guys do this. Boz and Donald on harmonic lead.  I was picturing these three in their youth trying to learn this song in their respective garage bands...
 
Love Train -  this was just such a cool version. Boz sang most of the lead but everyone took a turn.
 
Something In The Air -  wow this was a blast from the eclectic past. Donald said after the song...."Bet you haven't heard that one in awhile".  This was new to the setlist from the first few shows.
 
The Band - As you can see...each star took a turn doing a Band song.  Donald has been playing with Levon Helm lately so I am sure this was the inspiration for this.  I think Boz's Rag Mama Rag was the best...with Michael on bango.
 
Ok...I have rambled. I am just so glad I get to do this all over again in a couple weeks down in Tunica, MS...outside Memphis.  If they are coming your way....you HAVE to go see this one of a kind party.
 
- IrishDan



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Fan Reviews - Richmond, VA

By Handful Of Brains
Supporting music in Richmond since 2000
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Had a great time at the Dukes of September concert on Sunday night, August 29, 2010, at the Innsbrook Pavilion.  Dukes of September of course being Donald Fagan of Steely Dan, Michael McDonald & Boz Scaggs.  This show was heavy on the covers including a nice version of the Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street" and a mini-set of songs by The Band with each singer taking a song.  And kudos to them for not choosing the obvious.  I really don't need to hear "The Weight" again.  Fagan did "King Harvest Has Surely Come", Boz did "Rag Mama Rag" and McDonald did "The Shape I'm In" with Boz faring the best, I think. 

The backup singers, Carolyn Leonhart and Catherine Russell, were also prominent all night including taking front stage for a couple songs.  One did Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady" and the other did Muddy Waters' "I Love The Life I Live", and this allowed the prime players to just sit back and groove.  Other highlights included Boz doing Teddy Pendergrass' "Love TK" in which he really nailed the soulful vocals, Donald Fagan's "I.G.Y." from his "The Nightfly" album, and Michael McDonald doing Ray Charles' "I Got News For You".  


I was reading some of the commetns on the Richmond Times-Dispatch review and some people seemed upset that they didn't play more or all of their original songs but that wasn't really what this was meant to be and I enjoyed seeing a great band, including guitarist Jon Herington who shone all night, and a crack horn section play some of their favorite songs.

I do think that they should have loaded some of their originals toward the end of the show.  Of the encores, ("Help Me Rhonda" by the Beach Boys, "Something In the Air" by Thunderclap Newman, and "Them Changes" by Buddy Miles) only "Something in the Air" really took off with Fagan, Boz & McDonald each taking a verse.



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