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rock royalty From left, Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs.
From left, Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald, and Boz Scaggs. Enlarge
Published: Sunday, 8/12/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Rock royalty comes to Toledo Zoo

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

As rock super groups go, you'd be hard-pressed to find one as idiosyncratic as the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue.

The three principal members -- Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, and Donald Fagen -- are responsible for some of the most enduring hits of their era, but it's a time that passed 30-plus years ago. Now their songs are ubiquitous on oldies radio and as supermarket Muzak.

And rather than play a passel of those tunes in concert, which undoubtedly would be easy and overwhelmingly crowd-pleasing, they've chosen to perform only a smattering of their hits in exchange for presenting even older songs from a completely different period of rhythm and blues.

So if you're going to the Toledo Zoo Amphitheatre Wednesday night, don't expect Scaggs to plow through "Lido Shuffle," "We're All Alone," "Harbor Lights," or much else from his fertile mid-'70s period other than "Lowdown."

Ditto for McDonald, who steers pretty far away from his Doobie Brothers standards other than "Takin' It To the Streets" and "What a Fool Believes." Fagen generally works in four to five Steely Dan songs: "Hey Nineteen," "Reeling in the Years," "Pretzel Logic," "Kid Charlemagne," and "Peg."

For the most part, though, the set lists are packed with classic and semi-obscure soul and R&B songs such as "Do You Like Good Music" (Wilson Pickett), "Tell the Truth" (Ray Charles), "Love TKO" (Teddy Pendergrass), and "Them Changes" (Buddy Miles).

The result is a blue-eyed soul tour that has received uniformly rave reviews as it heads around the country. The superstars augmented by a first-class backing band first took the Dukes of September show on the road in 2010 and that incarnation was an evolution of an earlier pairing called the New York Rock and Soul Revue, which toured from 1989 to 1993.

Here's a look at what the three Dukes have been doing on their own in recent years:

Steely Dan is still a working concern for Fagen, of course. The band played at the zoo last summer and its most recent album was 2010's live "Perfection in Performance." The last studio album from the band, which Fagen formed with Walter Becker in 1972, was the 2003 release "Everything Must Go."

He has released three solo discs, the most recent of which is "Morph the Cat" six years ago. You can check out his writing on a number of issues, including literature, fellow musicians, and satirical subjects, on his Web site, www.donaldfagen.com.

Thanks to his pleasant, husky voice and taste for upscale R&B arrangements, McDonald's music became synonymous with light rock in the mid-'80s after he left the Doobie Brothers. He scored a number of solo hits and carved out a long career that has included a pair of soul standards discs and a Christmas album.

He told Billboard magazine late last year that he is working on discs with blues guitarist Robben Ford and his son Dylan McDonald, a musician.

McDonald's Web site is www.michaelmcdonald.com.

Scaggs' career stretches deep into the early '60s when he first began playing in Texas with the Steve Miller Band. After a solo stint, he reunited with Miller and was featured on his two seminal San Francisco albums before setting off again for a career on his own.

With his bluesy soul sound, Scaggs kicked around and recorded several albums throughout the '70s before scoring massive success with the 1976 release, "Silk Degrees." The album featured "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle." He followed it up with a series of discs that had moderate to solid sales before basically retiring and running a bar throughout the 1980s.

The New York Rock and Soul Revue in 1988 resurrected his career and he began recording again. He tours both with the Dukes and on his own and his most recent album was the 2008 release "Speak Low," comprised of jazz standards. His Web site is www.bozscaggs.com.

Show time is 7:30 for the Wednesday concert. Tickets are $39.50, $59.50, and $79.50. They can be purchased at all TicketMaster locations, livenation.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 or 419-385-5721, or visit the Toledo Zoo main box office Monday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The box office is in the Visitor Services/Guest Information Building. Enter from the Anthony Wayne Trail side of the Toledo Zoo.

Contact Rod Lockwood at rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.



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