Boz Skaggs likes the Dukes of September, the all-star collaboration with Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald, to "a Ferrari." And after an initial test drive in 2010, he says the trio is really gunning its engine this summer.
"The last time, most everything we were doing felt good," says Skaggs, 68, who toured with McDonald last summer. "So this time it just seems that we can work a little farther afield. The band is clicking. We just got more familiar playing with each other. It gives you a sense of a little more freedom knowing that. It feels good."
McDonald, who's logged time in Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers as well as on his own, adds that, "In (2010)...we were wondering how obscure we could get with some of the material. We did everything from Grateful Dead to Beach Boys to The Band, a lot of old soul tunes and things. It's kind of self-indulgent. But I think it's self-indulgent for the audience too, in a way, because it's not too many shows where you're going to see this much material that is kind of old and obscure.
"Our aim is always to pick those songs that people go, 'Oh, man, I haven't heard that in years!' But they remember the song. It's been a lot of fun to do"
Besides the three musicians' own material, this year's Dukes of September repertoire includes songs by the Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Sly & the Family Stone and others. And part of the allure for the musicians is experimenting with stylistic directions that are "out of our comfort zones," according to McDonald.
"We've all been spending a lot of years playing our own material," McDonald, 60, says. "In this realm, we're playing songs that we've never done before or we haven't done since we were kids. It's kind of terrifying at first, but it's a lot of fun in the end. It does a lot for I think the three of our spirits just as musicians and getting a chance to do this.
"It's really a kind of rejuvenating experience I think."
The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $49.50 pavilion, $25 lawn with a $60 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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