Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs: introducing the Dukes of September
Published: Tuesday, July
20, 2010, 9:26 AM
Jay Lustig/The Star-Ledger
Donald Fagen is joining Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs in the pop-soul supergroup, the Dukes of September.
The possibilities are endless.
The Dukes of September a new pop-soul supergroup featuring Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs will sing covers as well as their own songs on their upcoming Rhythm Revue tour, which starts Aug. 19 and comes to Atlantic City on Aug. 20 and Holmdel on Sept. 2. In a phone interview with a group of reporters last week, the three said they are considering songs recorded by everyone from the Beach Boys to David Ruffin, of Temptations fame.
Ive been doing revue-type things on and off since the early 90s and its, in a way, the most fun kind of show to do, because it gives the audience a lot of variety, so it never gets boring, said Fagen, who is best known as the voice of Steely Dan.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the interview came when Fagen said he may perform the Grateful Deads 1978 hit Shakedown Street. In the 70s after all, the polished, subtly humorous Steely Dan and the scruffy, hard-jamming Grateful Dead were about as different as two bands could be.
As it turns out, Fagen has been singing Shakedown Street lately, when sitting in with Levon Helms band.
It wasnt the typical Grateful Dead song because it had kind of a dance beat to it, said Fagen, 62. I think they were kind of cashing in on the disco craze or something like that, but its a fantastic song with a beautiful lyric and it gets a great response every time that we do it, and so I think Im going to try to put that in the show.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images
McDonald, 58, who contributed backing vocals to some of Steely Dans classic 70s albums but became a star in his own right as a member of the Doobie Brothers, mentioned Ray Charles Ive Got News for You as a possibility for the tour.
Thats a song that I always loved playing, back even when I was a kid, he said. Its one of those mainstays that Im kind of thrilled to get a chance to sing again.
Scaggs, 66, said the three are considering picking one song apiece from the repertoire of Helms pioneering roots-rock group, the Band. Each of us has listened and dug them a lot over the years, and I know Donalds been working with Levon, and its just sort of in the air, Scaggs said. So thats a particularly exciting little bit of real estate that were looking at for the show.
THE DUKES OF SEPTEMBER
This isnt the first time that these three men, blessed with three of the most distinctive voices of their generation, have done this sort of thing. In the early 90s they, and others, teamed up for a series of shows Fagen organized, called the New York Rhythm and Soul Revue.
This is kind of a continuation of that tradition, said McDonald, who described the opportunity as a dream come true.
Its almost self-indulgent for us, he said. And doing the old
(covers) is really the more self-indulgent part for us, because we probably
enjoy that even more than playing our own stuff.
They will play with the same house band made up, mostly, of Steely Dan alumni and will back each other: Fagen and McDonald on keyboards, Scaggs on guitar.
Each of us probably enjoys being a sideman as much as being a
frontman, said Fagen.
They could have resurrected the New York Rhythm and Soul Revue name for this tour, but instead went with the Dukes of September. Dukes is evocative of classic doo-wop groups like the Earls and the Mello-Kings, and September alludes to both the time of the year that the group will be on the road, and the members ages (think of standards such as September Song and The September of My Years).
We had a little trouble finding a name, actually, said Fagen. We went through a few names. I think we started out with the Theme from Sea Hunt Rhythm Revue, but that didnt get universal acclaim.
Jay Lustig; (973) 392-5850 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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