- Raph PH via wiki commons
- Even though bandmate Walter Becker passed away in 2017, Donald Fagen continues to produce and tour with Steely Dan.
Though we still have half the year to go, we have a definite contender for the hot-ticket event for a touring band passing through Colorado Springs in 2019, as tickets are now on sale for the legendary Steely Dan’s appearance at the World Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 10. That’s plenty of advance notice, but I’d wager tickets will go fast.
Steely Dan, in case you just woke up from an extended coma, is possibly the most successful jazz-rock band to emerge since the early 1970s. Purists may certainly squabble over this distinction, but what are purists in any field for, if not squabbling?
For the majority of the band’s lifespan, Steely Dan was helmed by keyboardist/vocalist Donald Fagen and guitarist/bassist Walter Becker. Aided by a revolving-door sort of lineup and an assortment of ace session players (guitarists Denny Dias and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, backing vocalist/keyboardist Michael McDonald, bassist Chuck Rainey and drummers Jeff Porcaro and Bernard Purdie are a mere few to make notable contributions), the duo developed a reputation as both sonic perfectionists in the studio and craftsmen of masterful, if ultra-cynical, pop music. The fact that the band took their name from a fictional steam-powered, ahem, “marital aid,” described in William Burroughs’ classic family favorite Naked Lunch, speaks to both Fagen and Becker’s hyper-literate sensibilities and their general view of humanity.
The band was ever-obsessive over their studio performances and production, and Steely Dan’s run of albums from 1973’s Countdown to Ecstasy to 1980’s Gaucho ranges in critical consensus from “outstanding” to “flawless,” racking up accolades and five Platinum certifications from their experimenting with increasingly complex song structures and attention to sonic minutiae. In fact, the thought of Steely Dan touring at all would have once seemed unthinkable, as Fagen and Becker eschewed touring completely from mid-1974 until a reunion in the early ’90s, preferring to give their full attention to studio craftsmanship. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Walter Becker passed away in 2017 following a battle with esophageal cancer, but Donald Fagen has kept the music of Steely Dan alive with a group of longtime collaborators through various tours and residencies, including well-received stints at New York City’s Beacon Theatre and Las Vegas’ Venetian Resort in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Elsewhere, on Thursday, June 13, the Zodiac will play host to a surf-rock act that certainly knows how to stand out in a crowd... before stomping them into oblivion. Daikaiju originally hail from Huntsville, Alabama, but take their name and stylistic approach from the Japanese Kaiju films that feature giant monsters wreaking havoc — think Godzilla, Gamera and so on.
The band performs clad in Kabuki masks and, impressively, has managed to maintain anonymity throughout the years, with its various members assuming identities such as “Blast-Man” and “Secret-Man.” Before you catch them live, you can sample their metal-infused, surf-y madness through the new single released to their Bandcamp page, “Deluxe Electric Ninja Mistress.” Be aware; they have been known to light things on fire. Daikaiju will be joined at the Zodiac by Giardia, Kenaima and Eater.
Finally, while pyrotechnics probably won’t be involved in the performance, on June 16, the Pikes Peak Center stage will showcase music from one of the most celebrated artists of the swing era with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Despite his relatively short career as a bandleader, Miller achieved phenomenal success and there exist myriad interesting tidbits and anecdotes about him. He went to high school and college in Colorado! He recorded more top-10 hits than the Beatles and Elvis Presley! He disappeared under fairly mysterious circumstances during World War II! Granted, his name wasn’t quite as cool as big band contemporary Bix Beiderbecke, but I suppose you can’t have it all.
The current Glenn Miller Orchestra has been performing since 1956 and continues to consistently tour and flourish under the direction of vocalist/bandleader Nick Hilscher, bringing faithful renditions of “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “String of Pearls” and other big band standards.
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