Dukes of September Out-duel Thunderstorm

Dukes of September Out-duel Thunderstorm

Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald and Donald Fagen make up the trio, and they mostly pleased the light crowd at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Friday night.

A four-song encore did fans of the The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue a bigger favor than just letting these diehard fans get to hear even more songs from artists whom they loved. It also helped keep them dry.

Lightning started striking all around Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park Friday night, July 20, with more than a few lightning bolts hitting on the property. That signaled a torrential downpour, and got fans moving out of their seats toward the center of the amphitheater. That high roof doesn't keep the rain off you if there's even the slightest breeze when you are near the edges.

But the night wasn't about the storm, it was about the music. It's been two years since The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue last played in Alpharetta, and it seems they've included more hits in this years tour–though many of those hits were covers of the original artists' songs, not their own tunes.

The concert started out a little rough, with the music (especially the brass) overpowering all of the vocals. Some of this has to be my hearing adjusting to the sheer volume of a concert, of course. Before my ears and the technician operating the soundboard made adjustments, to me it sounded like listening to 45s in the age of Dolby stereo sound. Oh, so some of you have no clue what a 45 is? It was a record that had a single on each side. Since they were usually played on portable record players with just a little tinny speaker, they never sounded as good as an album.

Donald Fagen, cofounder of Steely Dan and its lead vocalist, did all the talking for the trio and their supporting band. For most of the evening he played piano, happy in his role as a backup pianist when another musician was featured.

Boz Scaggs, who, like his "Dukes" bandmates has had success in a band and with a solo career, seemed to gain control of his voice quicker than Fagen. However, on a few songs it seemed as if he was reaching for the proper key, seeming flat to me. Scaggs sang plenty of songs from his solo career and some from when he was with The Steve Miller Band.

Michael McDonald knew Boz Scaggs way back when, having sung background vocals and played keyboards on tour back in the 1970s. But his time with The Doobie Brothers brought him more notoriety–and a few Grammy wins.

But the first song featuring his voice Friday night wasn't one of his own tunes. Nope, he chose the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes hit, "If You Don't Know Me By Now." (Though more people these days probably know the Simply Red version better.)

It wasn't until McDonald brought out one of his Doobie Brothers hits, "What a Fool Belives," that concertgoers stared dancing in the aisles. Yep, them concert folks love their hits. He sounded fine on this song, but couldn't hit the register consistently on the next.

Boz Scaggs didn't disappoint when he led the Dukes of September in a rendition of "Hey Nineteen," a Steely Dan hit.

I guess when you are in your 60s and have had a very successful career as a singer/songwriter, you don't mind not only sharing the spotlight, but giving it away. On several songs the trio played backup to their own backup vocalists. Carolyn Escoffery and Catherine Russell each had a few turns to shine. Early in the concert Escoffery sang a version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," and Russell sang lead vocals on "Piece of My Heart." I'd say Russell nailed it better than Escoffery on her chances, but the music chosen seemed to suit her voice better anyhow.

It's been just a month since The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue kicked off their 2012 summer tour. Since that tour began at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, it's not too surprising that Friday night's crowd in Alpharetta could be considered "intimate." Sure, there were thousands of people in the audience. The maximum seating is 12,000, and that's with the lawn section open. It wasn't and there were still plenty of seats left over. The band didn't seem to care, however, and the crowd of 50+ somethings were happy to be there.

Posted: Sunday 22 July 2012


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