So I paid my cover, not being sure what to expect from Paul Kneevers and Jeff Hamilton and friends as "Steely Dan." No, I knew exactly what to expect: Precision. I don't think they would have bothered if they couldn't do it 100% on, and from the moment they took the stage in sunglasses, hats, leather vests, and jumping directly into "Reeling In the Years" (and true to the object of their spoof, nailed it) I knew it was worth the night's $10 cover. Right down to the tones on the guitar solos, right down to the synthesizer bends on "Do It Again", right down to the Fagen-esque flourish of the hands, right down to the Becker-style disaffectedness, right down to kicking the singer out of the band for not being perfect and bringing in "Michael McDonald" for the remainder of the set, they maintained a jazzbo smugness because they had it and they knew it. As much as Fagen/Becker were legendary for a level of polish and perfection that ranked up there with another guy would would be spoofed later in the night, Kneevers/Hamilton are no slouches in the Department of Anal Retentiveness either (they've both recorded my bands-- so I can personally attest to this in the studio), and so, as they spoofed the Dans, they were very clearly laughing at themselves as well.
Up next: "38 Special." Don't know any of the guys in this band (or maybe I do and they were that well disguised) and I realized that I unfortunately knew a lot more .38 Special songs that I cared to admit. All of em were clad in those Southern Rock regalia pieces: Stetsons, hillbilly hair, oversized boots, Jack Daniels T-Shirts, and quart bottles of booze that each of them swigged between every song: "Hold On Loosely" (oh, is THAT what they're saying?) and "Caught Up In You" and "Second Chance" and oh, dear, I actually know this stuff from road trips up north where all we can get is KROCK-style stations. FM-friendly stuff to put on inbetween the Zeppelin and the Aerosmith, or when you've had enough of Molly Hatchet or Skynyrd. I get the feeling that these guys, whoever they were, could have taken on Skynyrd (but not the Allmans) and pulled it off, but that might have been treading on too sacred ground.
while a 8"x6'x1" plank piled high with
given that there's a half inch of sugar all over the front) because they had to make room for a horn section, a full band,backup singer chicks, and a "Danny Ray" to hold the purple cape for "James Brown," starring probably the only guy in town who could have even approached this: Freddy Lee and his band and friends. No bruised women around, he did all the major hits: I Feel Good (and yes, he hit the high notes), Sex Machine, and of course, Please Please Please. Horn section could have danced around a bit more, but the hardest working man in Milwaukee was backed up by full suits, and a tightly knit machine of a band that forced pure sweat out of both singer and audience. I think the only thing that kept the set as short as it was could have been bar time. I didn't make it out the second night, but this won't be my last Spoof Fest for sure.
Meantime, a public service announcement. Normally, I have mixed feelings about bands/artists trying to finance themselves via Kickstarter. Build up your fanbase, and make a CD already. But the issue here is that Mike Frederickson has already done just that and for some odd reason I have to attribute to the stupidity of the music industry and ignorance of the masses, he just isn't rich and famous. So he could just use a little kickstart to make his next CD, "Make It Stop." Here's the link to his Kickstarter Page. That's my PSA for today.