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NYC (2) – Steely Dan Continues To Rule

.: I am three days into the NYC trip. Weather has been very warm and humid. .: On Thursday, 17 August 2006, I went with friends to the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater to see the Michael McDonald/Steely Dan show, aka the Steelyard “Sugartooth” McDan – The Man … The Legend … The Tour. The concert was amazing – the Jones Beach Theater is an outdoor amphitheatre on the beach in Wantaugh NY, on the south shore of Long Island. It was a clear night, the temperature was warm, the music outstanding.

Michael McDonald opened the show with a full band, and played an assortment of his solo tunes, a couple from his recent Motown songbook, and his killer Doobie Brothers songs, including It Keeps You Running, You Belong to Me, What A Fool Believes, Minute by Minute, and Takin’ It To The Streets. The intro to Takin’ It To The Streets featured a long piano/organ shuffle between McDonald and his keyboardist, John Deaderick. After some brilliant pianistics, McDonald began the opening chords to Takin’, and the crowd roared its approval.

After a short break, the lights dropped out and the Steely Dan band appeared on stage, and began a jazz instrumental tune called Turtle Talk. A few minutes into the song, the band was joined by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. They quickly moved into Bodhisattva, an indication that Don and Walt had plans to revisit a number of older tunes they had not performed for some time. After the song, Fagen welcomed the audience with, “Hello, kids”, and the band continued to weave magic with the following tunes, post-Bodhisattva:

    Time Out Of Mind
    Aja – featuring Carlock’s solid interpretations of the Steve Gadd solo pieces
    I Got The News
    Hey Nineteen – during which the band breaks from the main song, and Donald notes that trumpeter Michael Leonhart and trombonist Jim Pugh were arguing backstage earlier, and invites them to the front of the stage to discuss the issue. Leonhart (brother to singer Carolyn) and Pugh, each using a mute, proceed to perform a little “talking jazz”, trading licks back and forth until Donald yells, “OK, enough, back to your places,” or something similar. The music still chugging, he asks the girls about that certain drink of a certain kind, he can’t remember the name, what was it again, to which the girls begin singing the chorus, “The Cuervo Gold, the fine Columbian…”
    Green Earrings
    Deacon Blues
    Black Friday
    Dirty Work (sung by Carolyn and Cynthia)

Donald began speaking to the audience about the need to feel a groove, and this was the segue to the portion of the show where the band members showcase themselves individually. Walter then introduced each of the band members, and concluded by welcoming Michael McDonald back to the stage to join in with them. While the band continued to play a low-keyed funk groove, McDonald sat down in the middle of the stage, between Becker and Fagen, settled in at his keyboard and started singing Show Biz Kids, one of my all-time favorite SD tunes, from Countdown to Ecstasy. After enthralling the audience with his reading of this great song, featuring backup vocals from Fagen, Young, and the girls, Donald explained that when Michael was a member of SD in the mid-70s, on tour he would often sing lead on some of the tunes, including “this next one”, which turned out to be Do It Again, their first big hit. Once again, the audience was blown away by McDonald’s version of the song. The McDonald/Steely set list included:

    Show Biz Kids
    Do It Again
    Don’t Take Me Alive
    Kid Charlemagne

McDonald joined The Dan for the encore, which opened with FM (the encore song for all their tours, it seems), and a wicked version of My Old School.

Steely Dan continues to impress, and the Dan music gets better with age. Becker and Fagen continue to surround themselves with brilliant musicians, and the current lineup is no exception:

Eleven dates remain on the current tour. If you are a fan of The Dan and Michael McDonald, and they come to your part of the world, don’t miss this show – it’s worth the time and effort, and you won’t be disappointed.

.: I am otherwise spending time visiting friends. I haven’t made the time to see a play or movie yet – perhaps today, which is a “free” day, with nothing scheduled as yet.

8 Responses to “NYC (2) – Steely Dan Continues To Rule”

  1. Daniel K. Says:

    Man, I gotta see those guys live again… there is no one better. I wonder if they’re still pissed off at Owen Wilson?

  2. john Says:

    thanks for the review. i’m seeing the ac show this weekend and just wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to be a 6 songs and off deal. one correction, though: michael leonhart is NOT carolyn leonhart’s brother. just a coincidence.

  3. Rick Says:

    Saw them last night at the PNC Art Center in New Jersey. Exact same show–though, sadly, no Deacon Blues. They played Chain Lightning instead. Nothing from Two Against Nature or Everything Must Go. Also nothing from Fagen’s new solo album Morph the Cat. It was great to see them with their old bandmate. I actually think McDonald is more effective as a background singer with a couple of turns in the spotlight–I started to tune him out in the opening slot, except for the Doobie songs. He is a great song writer.

    The guy above is wrong, I think. They are brother and sister, as I recall from the vast amount of reading I did at about the time of Two Against Nature. Their father is Jay Leonhart, a great jazz musician. Maybe some Googling would clear this up. But I can’t be bothered~,:^)

  4. sheri Says:

    saw them last night at the pnc arts center, as well.

    cant tell you how much better they were last night compared to the last time i saw them. the last time was the first time they had toured in years. they were to “controlled”

    i thought the show was fantastic and michael macdonald was a great addition.

    theres NOONE like them…………………………….

  5. Randy Says:

    The Leonharts are siblings. I’m not sure where the confusion started. I met Carolyn in 2004 when she was performing at Smoke, and she mentioned at that time that she was preparing to attend her brother Michael’s wedding, and spoke about his band as well.

    Check out their father, Jay Leonhart’s site , where it says, among other things:

    “At 21, Jay moved to New York City to start his career and to proceed on his oddessy towards adulthood. He played lots of funky road gigs with big bands, small bands and singers and visited all the little jazz joints around the world. In 1968, he met and married a lovely young singer named Donna Zier and settled down in New York. Jay and Donna Leonhart have also raised two very musically inclined children, Michael and Carolyn, who perform with Steely Dan, among other notables.”

    On this photo page, about halfway down, is a picture of Jay and Carolyn and Michael.

  6. steve forty Says:

    Randy this is totally off topic, but did you know that Shaw has added Canadian time shift channels on digital tv? I thought that you would like to try them as they carry CKY from Winnipeg now. Should be channels 231 to 240 with Cky being 233 in Vancouver (the addition is Shaw wide). They announced the Hi Def additions, but not the Canadian Time Shift Channels. They even carry NTV from Newfoundland. The package is free for one month I think and then it is $3.95 or so per month. I would have sent this by e-mail, but your last e-mail address I had from years ago did not work when I tried it several months ago.

  7. john Says:

    I stand corrected on the Leonhart thing! Anyways, they’re both very talented. The AC show was brilliant, although the sound mix was so-so.

  8. Jay leonhart Says:

    To the Steely Dan fans wondering about Carolyn and Michael Leonhart. Yes, they are brother and sister and I am proud to be their father!

    Jay Leonhart

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