Live - Steely Dan Home At Last At Jones Beach

Letís get right to it: let me answer the most
popular questions asked after a Steely
Dan gig and then I will add my

1. What did they play?

2. How did they sound?

3. Who was in the band?

The gig was at Jones Beach. And although this
is a ìniceî place to see a show (going down to
the beach and hearing some great live music)
we all know that the sound there is decent ñ
not great. That being said, this was Steely Dan
who are the most meticulous about their
recording and their sound so on this night, the
sound was as best as it could be outdoors and
the weather was perfect.



ìTime Out of Mindî


ìThe Caves of Altamiraî

ìBlack Cowî

ìBabylon Sistersî

ìSlang of Agesî


ìHome at Lastî

ìJanie Runawayî

ìHey Nineteenî

ìHaitian Divorceî

ìThings I Miss the Mostî

ìParkerís Bandî


ìKid Charlemagneî

ìDonít Take Me Aliveî

ìMy Old Schoolî


The band this year was mostly the same as the
2002 band that toured for Two Against
with a couple of new additions.
Cornelius Bumpus: Tenor sax ñ

Walt Weiskoph: Tenor sax (new this

Michael Leonhart: Trumpet

Jim Pugh: Tenor Trombone
(could be one of the best ever)

Tom Barney: Bass (Steely
Dan hasnít done a live gig without him since

Ted Baker: piano

Keith Carlock: Drums (new
this year ñ and absolutely incredible)

Jon Herington: Rhythm/lead guitar
(friend of mine ñ toured and recorded last 2
albums with SD)

Cynthia Calhoun: Backing vocals
(toured with SC back in 2000 also)

Cindy Mizelle: Backing vocals
(new this year)

Carolyn Leonhart: Backing vocals
(she toured with them last year and does the
incredible falsetto with Donald Fagen
on "Pixeleen" off the new album)

Of course the entire ensemble is led by Fagen
and Walter Becker, who both looked
a little whiter this year (Walterís beard and
Donaldís hair) but that had no affect on their
delivery. Walter was in a blue shirt and jeans
and played his blue Fender Strat the entire
night. Donald switched off from the Fender
Rhodes and his melodica came on stage in
trademark sunglasses (green lenses this year)
and a black leather button down and after
intermission returned in a turquoise blue
button down. Things got off to a rusty start
(during "Aja," Donald began to sing the line
about Chinese music in the third verse during
the first verse i.e., "Chinese Music always sets
me free" instead of "Chinese Music under
Banyan tree." But after 30 years of tunes ñ heís
entitled. 2nd song of the set and clearly the
award for obscure tune of the evening was
"Time Out Of Mind" off of Gaucho,
which was incredible. A Steely Dan fan is
always hopeful weíll get not only an oldie, but
also something completely obscure. After all,
they toured in 1974 and then not again until
ë95 so there is a lot they havenít played. They
had decided to stop touring and make better
records after another band called The
Beatles had done the same thing and
were successful at it. But since touring again,
each year theyíll delight us with a few tunes
that are pleasant surprises (i.e., last year they
opened the show with Boston Rag at some

The only new tunes from Everything Must
that we got were "Godwhacker," "Slang
Of Ages" and "Things I Miss the Most." All
were impeccable and Walter did the solos on
all of these tunes. He never ceases to amaze
me..sounding better than ever. Another
highlight, during "Godwhacker" jazz pianist
and Blue Note recording artist Bill
Charlap came out and did a solo. Donald
and Walter were delighted as Bill ripped into a
long solo. Thatís the thing about Donald/
Walter. They love to hear their machine turn.
They love to sit back and bask in what they
created and see musicians come in and
interpret what their visions were long before
they came out to being final tunes. Anyone
who is a fan of this band knows that many
many studio musicians since the '70s have all
played on Steely Dan records. And at times,
Donald/Walter would have eight to ten
musicians coming in to try and lay down say, a
guitar solo for one song. This would take
hoursÖdays. But if it wasnít what they wanted
ñ then that was it ñ on to the next. So a guy
like Bill Charlap comes on stage and it was
clearly magic. Donald /Walter turned to face
him during the solo ñ and at one point
simultaneously signaled for him to go on yet
another verse. Sure, Donald and Walter are up
there playing ñ but you might think of them as
conductors..inspectors if you will ñ or as I like
to call them, scientists. They are watching
every single thing going on and listening to
each musician so carefully. Whoever is soloing
ñ they are just as much a part of that solo as
the musician doing it. It is clearly an amazing
thing to watch.

Donald hasnít changed in his well thought out
song introductions and dry sense of humor.
Greeting Jones Beach with ìHello, kids.î Or
introducing "Peg" by saying ìthis next tune
you might know..or you might not know.î Or
another time looking at Walter and saying
îWhat are we doing next?î And finally in
between other songs he says ìWhat a night..
Iím buggin !î Other highlights hearing "The
Caves of Altamira" and "Donít Take Me Alive"
off of Royal Scam ñ tremendous! Or
Walter taking lead vocals twice ñ once on his
new tune "Slang Of Ages" but he also sang
lead on "Haitian Divorce." Another knockout
was hearing "Parkerís Band" from Pretzel
sung by the three female back up
singers. Last year they did something similar
with "Dirty Work" ñ this time it worked even
better. I was hoping to get more from Two
Against Nature
but we only got "Janie
Runaway." "Black Cow," "Josie" and "FM" also
sounded great. And Herrington who took
many of the classic solos ñ did particularly
exceptionally on "Kid Charlemagne" and the
first solo in "Aja."

The show had a visual element as well with
video monitors showing random images
throughout the evening. At times it was sky
and fire, then musical notes then film contact
sheets then old film footage. This worked well
but was not impactful to the show in my
opinion. Not really needed. Another guest who
was in the house who came out to take a bow
was Jay Black. This guy gave
Donald/Walter one of their first jobs as
backing musicians for Jay and the
Americans from 1969-1971.

Seeing these genius composers still sounding
better than ever and still putting out records
and good records,at that, after all these years
is simply a musical treat for all us fans. Due to
the possibility of rain (that never came) the
band was set back a little further on stage
requiring the use of binoculars. I like to seeÖa
lot. I recommend seeing them wherever you
can and if you donít own a Steely Dan record
and you truly want to test the quality/accuracy
of your audio system you own ñ then you need
to do it with a Steely Dan record.

For us New Yorkers ñ next up is Roseland 9/
12 ñ 13. For everyone else, check for the rest of the

Photo By Drew

Live - Steely Dan Home At Last At Jones Beach