Another Sold-Out Show for the Dukes

Dukes of September Rhythm Revue — Reelin’ in the years and the memories

Posted on 07/19/2012 by Hector Saldaña

The show: The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue – Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, the Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald and ‘70s R&B star Boz Scaggs backed by seven virtuosic musicians and two vocalists – at Majestic Theater on Wednesday. Guitarist Jon Herington led the exceptional band.

Attendance: About 2,350; sold out

Much of the battle is won when one employs guitarist Jon Herington, bassist Freddie Washington, drummer Shannon Forest, keyboardist Jim Beard, horn players Michael Leonhart, Walt Weiskopf and Jay Collins, plus background singers Carolyn Leonhart and Catherine Russell.

This is especially true when out to create the ultimate, crowd-pleasing bar band, which seems to be the intention of the Dukes of September.

Whatever the motivation, the stars of the show didn’t phone it in. In their hands, what might have been ho-hum for this audience on any given night at any given bar in the country became worthy of standing ovations and the odd shout, “Mike, you’re a god.”

Screams went up as McDonald, Fagen and Scaggs joined the revue to open with the Isley Brothers famous remake of their own song, “That Lady, Pt. 1.” Scaggs set the pace strumming the opening chords; Fagen nestled behind a grand piano (where he bopped all night, swaying side to side and shaking his head in delight) and McDonald played an electric piano.

Fagen announced that they were going to play “songs that we love.” It was the safest of bets. For example, Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music” is hard to resist. It was also the first evidence that Scaggs was in the best of voices of the three.

The first original number came via McDonald with “I Keep Forgettin.’” If the rendition was somewhat hoarse all these years down the line, no one seemed to care.

Likewise, Fagen talk-sang and even threw in some scat on Marvin Gaye’s “Troubled Man.”

He was more recognizable on the classic Steely Dan track “Kid Charlemagne.”

Scaggs was the revelation. The voice remains supple and rangy. A soulful reading of Muddy Waters “Same Thing” even gave him a chance to stretch out on guitar – not something so easy with this band of virtuosic musicians.

Of the three, Fagen was the most playful, peppering the banter with plenty of “Okey dokeys.” All were engaged in the set list, especially on a song like Chuck Berry’s “Never Can Tell,” one of the best of the night with McDonald on accordion.

It was a generous, fun night. The 19-song set list – some of it remains some of the most cloying (and over-played) music on radio in its ‘70s heyday — was followed by four encore numbers.

Fans ate it up whether it was a cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” made famous by the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes or the hits like “What a Fool Believes, “Hey 19,” “Lowdown,” “Peg,” “Takin’ It to the Street,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” “Pretzel Logic” or Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes.”

But it’s a surprisingly winning and entertaining formula from these three influential musicians and the audience was as engaged and loud as any the Majestic Theatre has seen in recent memory. One woman’s rather uninhibited dancing in the aisle was an education for a youngster in a fedora sitting right behind her. That’s gonna leave a mark.

Posted: Friday 20 July 2012


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