Rolling Stone: Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs Team for Summer Tour

Dukes of September gigs will deliver “a real band, not some TV thing like ‘American Idol’ “

By Andy Greene

Jun 17, 2010 2:40 PM EDT

Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs are hitting the road this summer nearly 20 years after their last joint tour. Calling themselves the Dukes of September, the longtime friends will share the stage for each full show and take turns singing. “This is a real band, not some TV thing like American Idol,” says Fagen. “There’s no synthesizers, a small, tight horn section and we’re going to try really respect the music.” The tour kicks off August 19th in Danbury, Connecticut.

The trio is still crafting the set list, but Fagen says he plans to play the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” and the Band’s “King Harvest,” while Scaggs will cover Chuck Berry and McDonald will do Ray Charles numbers as well as hits from his solo and Doobie Brothers catalogs. “I think I might also do ‘I.G.Y’ and some other stuff from my solo records,” says Fagen, “because I go out every summer doing Steely Dan. The show should move pretty fast. We’ll do one or two songs apiece and then someone else will do something.” He says they’re considering breaking out some duets, as well.

Get the lowdown on the rest of the season’s hottest tours in our Summer Tour Preview.

Steely Dan are actually launching their own 10-city tour of Australia in November, but the band has no plans to record an album anytime soon. “We throw some ideas around once in a while,” says Fagen. “We can’t seem to get serious about it for some reason. I’m sure eventually we’ll do something.” Their tour last year featured complete performances of their classic albums ASA, The Royal Scam and Gaucho, and Fagen says more LPs might be staged in full in the future. “Everything went so well last time with the full album idea that we’ve been thinking we’d try some other ones,” he says. “The reason we chose the three is because they were the most consistent all the way through. We never have any filler, but on the other albums there are certain songs we thought could have been better. Pretzel Logic is definitely one of the more consistent ones.”

In the meantime, Fagen has just begun work on his fourth solo LP. “It’s just starting to take shape,” he says. “My previous albums were sort of an autobiographical type. I’m frankly glad that’s all over with. There were certain limitations because it was all about me. Now I can concentrate on writing one song at a time. There’s no theme to them – just stories.” He says the songs have been developing as he gets “a good groove” going with his band. “I’ve noticed there seems to be some James Brown-ish type things happening in the rhythm section. Only one song is done, but the songs are mostly written. When Steely Dan gets back from Australia I’ll probably resume work on it.”

To stay busy between tours, Fagen has been playing keyboards in Levon Helm’s band. “Levon’s got such a great beat and it’s forever fun playing with him,” he says. “It’s like a vacation from my job. The most fun I have when I’m playing music is when I’m part of the rhythm section and I try to lock in with the bass and drums. It’s a great feeling.”

Tour Dates:
August 19 – Danbury, CT @ Charles Ives Center
August 20 – Atlantic City, NJ @ The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
August 22 – Loudon, VA @ Belmont Country Club
August 25 – Charlotte, NC @ Roadrunner Mobile Amphitheatre
August 26 – Atlanta, GA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park
August 28 – Raleigh, NC @ Raleigh Amphitheatre
August 29 – Richmond, VA @ Innsbrook Pavilion
August 31 – Boston, MA @ Wang Theatre
September 2 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
September 3 – Wantagh, NY @ Jones Beach Theatre
September 6 – St. Paul, MN @ Minnesota State Fair
September 8 – Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre
September 10 – Cincinnati, OH @ PNC Pavilion
September 11 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
September 14 – Council Bluffs, IA @ Mid-America Center
September 15 – Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theater
September 17 – Tunica, MS @ Harrah’s Tunica
September 18 – Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Theatre
September 27 – Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
September 29 – Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre
October 1 – San Francisco, CA @ Golden Gate Park
October 2 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint